Review + Giveaway: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (The Hunger Games #0) by Suzanne Collins – The Origin Story of a Monster

Caitsbooks Reviews The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, 4 Stars

*This review, like all my reviews, is spoiler free. If you would like to know my spoiler-y thoughts on the book, check out my youtube channel!*

Overall: 4/5 Stars
Characters: 4/5
Setting: 5/5
Writing: 5/5
Plot and Themes: 2.5/5
Awesomeness Factor: 4/5
Review in a Nutshell: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes was much better than I thought it would be. Granted, I expected to hate it.

“Snow lands on top.”

[ Related: The Betrothed by Kiera Cass – I Need to Rant (ARC Review) ]

// Content Warning: Violence, Death, Eating Disorder, Suicide (Mention), Poisoning, Amputation (Mention), Snakes, Rabies, Murder, War Themes, Cannibalism, Animal Death //

Release Date: 5/19/2020
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Page Count: 540

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is the prequel to The Hunger Games trilogy. It takes place during the 10th annual Hunger Games, following a young Coriolanus Snow (not yet the President Snow we all love to hate). For the first time, the Games are having Capital students mentor the tributes, and Snow has been assigned the girl from District 12.

“Nothing you can take from me was ever worth keeping.”

Read more to see all of my thoughts on The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, as well as get more information on the Giveaway!

“It’s amazing, how little things change. After all the killing. After all the agonized promises to remember the cost. After all that, I can’t distinguish the bud from the blossom.”

Writing & Setting

If you’ve read The Hunger Games, you should know what to expect with the writing. Suzanne Collins’ writing style is easy to jump into and captivating. The only difference in her style with this book is that it’s written in third person, not first (as it is in the original trilogy).

Now, I thought I knew what to expect with the setting, but I was wrong. Yes, we have the Capital and the districts, but the war was recent, and everyone is still recovering. The Capital is more toned down, and instead of the Games being this high-tech, extravagant event, it’s much more straightforward.

What I loved most about this book was seeing how the Games started, and some of the reasons for why things changed and how they became the way they were for the 74th Games. It was absolutely fascinating (and horrifying) to read.

“Courage in battle was often necessary because of someone else’s poor planning.”


The plot for this book is solid, but the pacing? Not so much. It can take some time before the action really begins, and even when it does, the pacing is a little all over the place. The beginning is slow, then it picks up, then it slows a little, then the last couple of chapters include SO MUCH and it goes by overwhelmingly fast.

But like I said, the actual plot is decent. Some aspects were a little predictable, but then there were some twists that come out of nowhere and completely shock you. There is also a small romance plotline, but I struggled to get into it (which says something, because I adore all romance). I just felt like it was too rushed to be believable.

“What are lies but attempts to conceal some sort of weakness?”


Okay, let’s talk about Snow. My biggest concern with this book was that they would try to make me pity the “poor fascist dictator”. Thank God that didn’t happen. I won’t lie, they kinda toe the line in the beginning, showing how his life isn’t great, but his actions in this book really make sympathy impossible. However, I’m really glad they didn’t make me completely despise him from the start. He spent a good portion of this book in a grey area, where you can see his opportunities to do the right thing and are just waiting to see if maybe he’ll do it. This book is a fantastic villain origin story and it was so fun to watch his decline (maybe that’s not the nicest thing to say, but he’s a monster so I don’t feel bad).

Snow isn’t our only character. There are some characters whose names may sound familiar, which was really fun to see, and some completely new characters. Lucy Gray definitely gets a lot of attention, and I did like her, but I didn’t feel like she was the most well-rounded character. I think she definitely could have been if that ending didn’t feel so rushed, but unfortunately, that’s not what happened. 

But there were some characters I adored. Mostly Sejanus. His storyline was just as interesting as Snow’s and I loved every scene he was in. Also, Dr. Gaul. She absolutely terrified me but she added so much to this book.

“If the people who were supposed to protect you played so fast and loose with your life . . . then how did you survive?”


Pros- So many great easter eggs, loved learning more about the world
Cons- pacing was a mess
Overall- 4/5 stars.
I really enjoyed The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. It was the villain origin story I didn’t know I needed, and explored areas of this world and a part of the history I’m so glad I got to see. If you’re a Hunger Games fan, then I definitely suggest picking up this book!

“The show’s not over until the mockingjay sings.”

Want More of My Thoughts on Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes?

I will also be posting a review to youtube, with both a spoiler-free and spoilery section!

And on TikTok, I have a reading vlog!! It’s spoiler free, and shows some of my reactions as I was reading.

If You Liked The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, I’d Recommend:

I am giving away one (1) hardcover copy of The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes!!!

Start: Thursday, June 11th, 12:00am
End: Thursday, June 18th, 11:59pm
Prize: one (1) US hardcover edition of The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

Enter here!

What book did you like more than you expected?

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5 responses to “Review + Giveaway: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (The Hunger Games #0) by Suzanne Collins – The Origin Story of a Monster”

  1. I love this review, Cait! As a THG fan, I knew I would pick up this book someday, but your review makes me want to check it out sooner! I agree that my biggest worry is that it would try to humanize Snow.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I loved this review. I’m a huge Hunger Games Fan and have been wanting to read this. Your review has made me want to read it more. All though I’m going to miss Katniss. I think it’ll an addition to the story to see what Snow’s life was like as well as what the Hunger Games we’re about before he came into power.


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