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Parents' Guide to

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes: A Hunger Games Novel

By Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Equally violent prequel shows notorious dictator as a teen.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes: A Hunger Games Novel Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 12+

Based on 10 parent reviews

age 12+

Terrific... A few warnings

This book was a truly good book. It is the prequel to the legendary Hunger Games trilogy. Has great structure and many questions from the trilogy are answered. (Spoiler) the book ends with our main character trying to shoot his love dead because she found out about the murders he committed. The character Dr. Gaul makes me want to scream. Her view on humanity is we all have animal instincts of survival and killing just waited to be revealed at the right moment. There is little innuendo, though it’s there. There is lots of violence, but really anyone over eleven would be able to cope. A song has ‘ you can kiss my ass’ but it’s not bad. A teen says he’s acting like a jackass, but he is overreacting. Zero consumerism. Teens drink what is call posca, a very week wine. Men in their twenties get drunk a lot, but are never dangerous, just hungover and incoherent. I absolutely LOVED this book. I’m twelve, and a few of my friends enjoyed it too. ( though it’s not as good as the trilogy). Thank you for reading!!! Enjoy!
age 13+

Be Prepared for the worst, hope for the best.

The book is a wonderful book with lots of plot and artistry. I say 13 because it is extremely violent. I would even say it is MORE violent than the other Hunger Games novels. But, this book is a must read, but beware, my daughter Analina was scared because of various parts.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (10 ):
Kids say (80 ):

Not as tightly woven as the original series, this prequel showing the notorious President Snow as a teen will still intrigue fans of dystopian novels. The whole story is from Coriolanus Snow's perspective, which gives The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes a more sinister, hopeless feel. The few redeeming qualities Coriolanus possesses at the beginning of the story erode at each desperate turn he takes. He betrays the few people who trust him, and it's disappointing even though we really should have seen it coming. The future Panem president works out new ways to make the Hunger Games "better" in the process, giving readers a glimpse of how the squalid 10th annual games turned into the theatrical and high-tech marvel of decades later.

The first part of The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes deals with the blood-soaked lead-up to the games (a few tributes don't even make it to the arena) and the games themselves. After the games, the story takes an unexpected turn back to the districts. This section slows down considerably and lacks any careful buildup of tension, even though each problem Snow finds himself in digs him into a deeper hole. It's hard to say if the writing needed tightening in general or if readers just need less time in Coriolanus' head. Or maybe it would have helped to have at least one character to root for here to pull the story along at an emotional level. Lucy Gray has lost her mysterious charm by this point in the book, and Coriolanus' rebellious friend Sejanus makes one bad choice after another. It's a reminder at least that there's no one quite like Katniss, and all hope isn't really lost at the end of this tragic chapter of Panem's history. To bring back that sense of hope, you can always reread The Hunger Games.

Book Details

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