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The Student News Site of Altoona Area High School

Mountain Echo

The Student News Site of Altoona Area High School

Mountain Echo

“The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” Book review

Madison Aboud
Snakes among songbirds. “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” is the newest edition to the Hunger Games series.

In 2008, Suzanne Collins published “The Hunger Games.” From there, the novel became a bestseller, alongside the publication of “Catching Fire” and “Mockingjay.” In 2020, Collins shocked readers again by releasing “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” which takes place during the tenth annual Hunger Games. 

I first read the original Hunger Games series when I was 11 years old. At that time, I loved them, but I didn’t understand the power and the truth that they held. With the release of the movie based on “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” by the same title, I decided it was time to read the novel on which it is based. 

“The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” tells the story of Coriolanus Snow, the future President of Panem, when he is just 18.As a Capital citizen, he has been asked in his final year of Academy to be a mentor in the Hunger Games. His tribute is Lucy Gray Baird, a fiery girl from District 12. 

Throughout the novel, Snow faces many challenges, including first love, family pride and corruption. The novel gives us the history of what made the promising and understanding student into the vile and cruel man he would become years later. 

“The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” gives foresight into why Snow is the way he is in the original series. It also shines a light on why he despises Katniss Everdeen and all that she stands for. 

One thing I particularly adored about the novel was the lyrics that Collins put in. Throughout the story, Lucy Gray sings many songs and Collins puts in the lyrics to them all. When the movie was released, almost every song she sings throughout the novel is used throughout it. My favorite song is “The Ballad of Lucy Gray Baird.” During her interview for sponsors, she sings her ballad which tells of her life before the games. However, there are some things she has left unfinished back in District 12. “Too bad I’m the bet that you lost in the reaping” she sings. 

Lucy Gray is the polar opposite of Katniss Everdeen, the heroine of the original Hunger Games series. However, this doesn’t make her any less rebellious or brave than Katniss. Lucy Gray is the quieter rebel than Katniss. Instead of action, she sings, using her voice as her most dangerous weapon. On the other hand, Katniss is a fighter. During the games, she can be cutthroat because that is what she has to do for herself and Peeta to survive. 

I don’t have a favorite between the two women, but I understand and connect to Lucy more than Katniss. 

However, Lucy isn’t the only main character in “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.” She isn’t the ‘true’ main character of the story. Coriolanus Snow, future president of Panem, is our main character. 

In the original series, Snow is the villain of the story. However, in “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes,” Snow isn’t the villain. In many ways, at the start of the story, he is the hero. 

Reading this novel, there were many times when I had to remind myself of who Snow became. I wanted to be on his side throughout the story and kept hoping he wouldn’t turn out the way he did in the end. But, this didn’t stop me from enjoying reading about him, even if he isn’t my favorite character, I can’t deny he is very intriguing and dynamic to read about. 

In regards to the plot of this novel, I found it thoroughly intriguing, but I preferred when the novel was purely focused on the Capital and the games because that was a key point focused on in the original books. However, I did enjoy seeing District 12 earlier, as well as other places with both District 12 and the Capital. 

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.” Everything from the setting, the plot, the characters and the dialogue just flowed beautifully and engagingly. That being said, there were times when the story just didn’t flow the proper way and would drag. Overall, the story is an incredible one about grief, finding inner strength and how the power of music can be just enough to light the spark of rebellion. 

In truth, the reason I love The Hunger Games series is due to the topic of society, as well as moral corruption. I chose to look at the series not as a ‘fun time,’ but as a lesson to be learned. Although the dystopian world depicted in the series is extreme, the consequences of society’s actions don’t go unnoticed or unheard. One mistake could lead to the ruin of morals within our world and society. The Hunger Games series, particularly “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes,” portrays this in a very empowering and emphasized way. 

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About the Contributor
Madison Aboud
Madison Aboud, Associate Editor
My name is Madison Aboud and I am a sophomore at AAHS. This is my second year on Mountain Echo staff and my first year as an Associate Editor. In Jr. high, I was a reporter on the AAJHS Livewire. In my free time, you can find me reading or singing along to my favorite show-tunes. I’ve always had a passion for writing. My ultimate goal after high school is to become a professional journalist. Outside of Mountain Echo, I am in band, chorus, vocal ensemble, student council and Friends of Rachel. I strive to make sure students of AAHS are finding out everything they need to know within a timely manner. I can’t wait for another great year! 

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