Weekly Blog April 17th, 2022: The Ballad Of Songbirds And Snakes

*****SPOILERS FOR THE BALLAD OF SONGBIRDS AND SNAKES*****

Hello Internet!

I hope everyone is doing well and staying healthy. Happy Easter to all of those that are celebrating today. I actually think that there are a few different holidays going on this time of year so Happy whatever you are celebrating and I hope it’s a good one. For me, I am just happy that it’s spring. Spring is fully here and the weather is fluctuating like crazy. Some days it’s warm and sunny and other days it’s cold and windy. Some would say both are perfect spring weather. I’m just glad I can get some time outside in nature, seeing the flowers bloom and leaves begging to grow on the trees. Spending time out in nature really does boost my spirit. 

Anyway, I know it has been a bit since I’ve had a proper Weekly Blog so let me quickly talk about the stuff I’ve published in the past week and then I’ll move on to what I’ve been reading recently. On Wednesday I published a Poem titled “Purple Days.” This is a Poem about a bad breakup and the regrets of looking back on it. Emotions can run high in relationships and these can boil over into arguments. This Poem was pretty popular so thanks for supporting me when I put out these poems. But if you haven’t read it, give it a read. Then on Friday, I published the latest chapter of my Dungeons and Dragons inspired series, “Answer The Call (D&D).” The group made their way to Augendale where they ran into an old acquaintance named Christine Hauck, who runs the town’s general store. She insists that they all stay overnight at her house and the group agrees. However, Grace has trouble falling asleep due to some gruesome nightmares and she ends up wandering through Augendale at night. This D&D inspired series is one of my favorite things to write so I’m glad so many of you seem to enjoy reading it. It’s a fun series to read all the way through or just jump into the middle of. If you missed out on it, I highly recommend it.

Enough talk about the things I’ve written. I want to switch gears and talk about something I read. If you haven’t figured it out from the title of the Weekly Blog, I recently read “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” by Suzzane Collins. If you don’t recognize that name, Suzanne Collins is the author of the Hunger Games Trilogy and The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is a prequel book set in that world. I will dive deep into the plot of the book and my thoughts on it, but first I want to quickly talk about The Hunger Games. I was a huge fan of the books when I was a teenager. These books came out at the perfect time for me and I was the target audience. I ate these books up and really enjoyed them. I have the last line of Catching Fire burned into my memory. Katniss is with Gale and she asks Gale what happened to District 12 and Gale says “Katniss, there is no District 12.” Bum bum buuuuuum. It’s dramatic and for some reason it’s burned into my brain. Also if you don’t remember the context. The Capitol firebombs District 12 because Katniss and her team kick off the rebellion and she gets out of the arena. That being said, I don’t know if the Hunger Games Trilogy holds up. I imagine that I’ve outgrown that sweet spot where The Hunger Games really hits for me. I also remember Mockingjay having some pacing issues which may have carried over to this new book.

So what is this book all about anyway? Well I’m glad you asked. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is about a young Cornelius Snow, future president of the Panem. It has been only ten years since the war between the Capitol and The Districts ended and the Hunger Games was started. The games are a far cry from what they are when Katniss Everdeen enters the games. Basically they just throw starving kids into an old sports stadium and let them kill each other. No dramatics or pizzazz. Cornelius is a young adult about to graduate from his school and go off to study in the academy. However the Snow family is actually pretty poor and only holds such high stature because no one knows how poor the family is doing. Both of Cornelius’ parents were killed during the war and now he just lives with his Grandmother and cousin. While Cornelius is at school it is announced that him and his classmates are going to become coaches for the newest batch of tributes and they will be tasked with helping them while they are in the arena by delivering supplies via drones. Cornelis is actually a part of the group that comes up with the idea of getting sponsors from the capitol and having them supply the food and water the tributes will need. 

Due to some friction between Cornelius and the headmaster of the school, Cornelius gets stuck with the Female Tribute from District Twelve, named Lucy Gray Baird. She is a performer and singer who is a part of a traveling band that gets trapped in District 12 when the war ends and the barriers between the districts become stricter. Cornelius is able to leverage Lucy’s performances to get many sponsors for the games. Cornelius and Lucy end up forming a real bond and even fall in love. The games begin and tributes are eliminated through disease, starvation, and gold ol’ fashion murder.  Through some luck and some cheating, Lucy ends up winning The Hunger Games. However the school’s headmaster discovers the fact that Cornelius stole food from the school and cheated to help Lucy win the games. 

This is where the book almost becomes a whole other story. Cornelius ends up agreeing to leave the school and become a peacekeeper in order to keep this from coming out. Cornelius chooses to go to District 12 as a Peacekeeper so he can reconnect with Lucy Gray Baird. When he gets there, he excels at the training and even ends up on a track to become a Peacekeeper Officer. He ends up meeting up with Lucy and their romance flourishes. However there is a problem. A boy named Sejanus, who was formerly a classmate of Cornelius, also becomes a Peacekeeper in District 12. When he arrives he starts helping out the rebels in the district and Cornelius is forced to rat him out to the Capitol and Sejanus is hanged for treason. After this Cornelius and Lucy make a plan to escape the district together so neither of them get tied to the rebels and killed. They end up running away together but a short time into the trip, Cornelius lets slip that he had something to do with the fact that Sejanus was found out and killed. Lucy tries to run away and Cornelius tries to kill her in order to silence her. Cornelius ends up shooting at her but it is unclear whether or not Lucy actually gets killed or if she gets away. Cornelius ends up returning to the Peacekeeper base like nothing is wrong. He gets on a transport to go to the Peacekeeper Officer Academy but it turns out that he is actually being sent back to the Capitol on orders of the Head Scientist/Gamemaker. The whole time she is fond of Cornelius and she believes that his talents would be wasted as a Peacekeeper and Cornelius ends up gaining a spot at the university where he wanted to go in the first place. 

So overall what did I think of this book? Well from that plot synopsis I just gave, you may be able to tell that there’s a lot in this book. It’s almost like there’s two books in one. There’s the book where Cornelius is the mentor to Lucy and helps her through the games and then there’s the book where Cornelius is a Peacekeeper in District 12. There’s a lot this book has to cover and it manages to do so in a little over 500 pages. Compare this to Mockingjay which was under 400 pages (I looked up the number of pages online and don’t have a physical copy on me so that number might not be accurate, but stil). I think this book also struggles with some pacing issues. It seems to me like the author does not spend enough time in the scene. It’s like one thing happens and then a paragraph later we are in a completely different scene across the city. The situation can change so quickly from paragraph to paragraph. At times I found this quick pace refreshing but it definitely was a lot at times. I think the idea of showing what the early Hunger Games and how the modern Hunger Games came to be is really interesting. But I’m not sure that idea had to be paired with Cornelius Snow. I wasn’t reading through the Hunger Games Trilogy, clamoring for a villain origin for President Snow. I also think that if you were going to do a prequel to the Hunger Games focused on Snow, I’d rather read a book where’s a young-up and comer politician trying to gain the system to become President. I want the political intrigue with the games just being something in the background. I actually think a direct sequel to this book where we follow Cornelius Snows’ rise would be great. But this book is not that book. 

And it’s not to say that I didn’t like this book. I have some criticisms of it but there’s a lot of great stuff in here too. It did manage to tell an interesting story about Snow as he struggles with keeping up his family name and the morality of these games. Just like in the original Hunger Games trilogy the themes of food, power, human nature, survival, keeping up appearances, and the parallels between the districts and the capitol are on full display. It’s just that at the end of the day some parts really let me down and the pacing issues are hard to overlook. If you really liked the Hunger Games and you are craving some more from this world, I’d recommend checking out The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. If you are just a casual fan or didn’t enjoy The Hunger Games Trilogy, you are better off skipping this one. 

Thank you so much for reading that Weekly Blog all about The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzzane Collins. Hopefully you enjoyed reading my thoughts about the book as well as my general thoughts on The Hunger Games. If you really enjoyed this Weekly Blog, feel free to give it a Like. You can also leave a comment down below with your thoughts on the book. Have you read The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes? Did you like it? Hate it? Did you think it was just meh or alright? I’d love to hear all your thoughts on the book and whether or not you enjoyed the Hunger Games Trilogy as well. If you really enjoy the stuff I write, I encourage you to Follow Me here on WordPress. That way you will be a part of the positive and creative space I’m building here on WordPress. You’ll also see my stuff show up in your reader’s feed as soon as it gets published. I really appreciate all the love and support and I get from readers new and old. I know I say it a lot but it’s true. Thank you so much for all the support on the stuff I write. It blows me away how nice you all are.

Thank you again and have a wonderful week!

-Allen_The_Writer


Header Photo Credit to The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes’ Wikipedia Page
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ballad_of_Songbirds_and_Snakes

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