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Ballad Of Songbirds And Snakes: Is It Worth the Read Before the Movie?

Tom Blyth as Coriolanus Snow and Rachel Zegler as Lucy Gray Baird in The Hunger Games: Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. Credit: Murray Close.

“It’s not over until the Mockingjay sings.” These striking words with layers of complex meaning are uttered by Lucy Gray Baird, a main character in the book by Suzanne Collins and upcoming movie Ballad Of Songbirds and Snakes. 

Songbirds and Snakes, the fourth installment in The Hunger Games universe is set to release in theaters on Nov. 17, 2023.

Songbirds and Snakes, a prequel to the Hunger Games trilogy, illustrates the early life of 18-year-old Coriolanus Snow. Snow is the antagonist of the trilogy, and this book explores his role as a mentor in the tenth annual Hunger Games. The impending release of a film adaptation has people wondering: is Songbirds and Snakes worth the read?

Songbird and Snakes follows the relationship between Snow and the tribute Lucy Gray Baird. Lucy Gray is from District 12, the same district as Katniss Everdeen, the protagonist of the trilogy.

One thing that makes the book worth reading is the contrast between the two female protagonists Collins writes, Lucy Gray in the prequel and Katniss years later in the trilogy. Collins did not fall into the trap of making all the women in her series the same, and we see that with how both main characters deal with the games and their exposure. Unlike Katniss, Lucy Gray is charismatic, artistically cunning, and above all an entertainer. She is a performer placed in a hunt, while Katniss is a hunter placed in a performance.

Another benefit of reading it is the way the Songbirds and Snakes needles into a reader’s mind. Readers are aware of the villain Snow later becomes, which creates a dark undertone despite the story’s many positive points which frame Snow as a hero.

The book poses a similar question: love or power? Collins shows how different characters respond to this question, and how it affects them later on. Relationships are built, trust is broken and people fight for their place in the ever-changing power dynamic.

The biggest reason you should read this book is how the artfully intriguing writing style makes you unable to put it down. It fully immerses you with its imagery and enticing plotline, and it feels more like watching a movie than reading words on paper. 

The final consensus is that the plotline is worth it; on the silver screen, many expect an accurate adaptation, and in the book, it’s captivating and will evoke many emotions. I recommend reading the book first, because that feeling that one gets from reading is immeasurable compared to a movie adaptation. 

If you were a fan of the trademark 2000s dystopian films/books: The Maze Runner, Divergent and The Hunger Games,  this is the book for you. This book is quick-witted, inspiring, thought provoking and above all: the prequel the iconic trilogy deserved.

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