Monday, March 29, 2021

THE BALLAD OF SONGBIRDS AND SNAKES by Suzanne Collins. New York: Scholastic Press, 2020. 517p. ISBN: 978-133863517-1 hb. $27.99     Gr. 9-12    YA FIC

How could this author top the dystopian complexity of The Hunger Games novels?  By writing a prequel featuring 18 year-old Coriolanus Snow, before he became President Snow of the Capitol, who controlled all of Panem’s twelve districts through political intrigue, along with the annual reaping of children for the Hunger Games.  Readers find Coriolanus to be a good student and quite charming, which helps him conceal the fact that his illustrious family has no money for his college education.  He’s been chosen to mentor one of the Hunger Games tributes and is in the running for a scholarship, if his tribute performs well.  His ambition for power and the comforts of wealth drive Coriolanus to the savagery needed for success in this society where everyone watches their backs. Coriolanus navigates unknown territory with the help of his grandmother, devoted cousin, classmates, and two diabolical professors who, together, define the term “sinister.”  Jabberjays and venomous neon snakes, both mutants designed to keep the Capitol in power, also play significant roles in the story.  Regardless of having read the original three books, readers will be hooked by the end of the first chapter.  
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

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