The prequel to The Hunger Games connects many dots for die-hard fans of the trilogy
Prequels have a reputation of not living up to their usually successful main books, of being boring and drab. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is anything but. In The Hunger Games trilogy, we saw the fierce Katniss with a rebellious heart and a streak of sensitivity struggle to end the monstrosity called Hunger Games, along with Bread-boy Peeta and lifelong friend and rock Gale. The primary antagonist of the series, President Snow, for whom the reader instantly develops a distaste, is the tyrannical state leader, who has the last word, and a twisted past.
Flashing back 65 years prior to the end of the series, to the 10th Hunger Games, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes tells us of a time when President Snow is revealed to have a first name of Coriolanus, and a curious mind. The story reveals the stark contrast between the personalities of Snow 65 years before and after, as we see the manner in which the Hunger Games were conducted so very differently in the two time periods, and the way Snow’s mind worked. The cruel and twisted President Snow is shown to be concerned and in opposition to the Games as Coriolanus, something which would come off as a bit of a shock to die-hard fans of The Hunger Games.
The prequel tells of the origins and roots of Snow, as well as the girl who came like a hurricane into his life, and created a strong vacuum upon her exit, the girl who changed the way Coriolanus saw the world, and ultimately, life itself. As the President’s favourite phrase goes, “Snow lands on top”, the entire story explains his desire to be the ultimate leader, his need to be in charge. His complicated past and mentality is well-explained, as is what the country of Panem, the setting of the main series, was like 65 years earlier. The book has the perfect setting, amazing writing and fabulous characters, even if the beginning is stronger than the ending, which lacks a sense of satisfaction, as though the intricate character of Coriolanus hadn’t been given full justice. Even then, the book is packed with emotions as we see each character grow. It has a great moral lesson too, and is worth reading, providing a good sense of closure to those who wonder what the country of Panem was like before Katniss was ever heard of.