Monday, April 12, 2021

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

     Hello all! I hope that everyone is staying safe and getting ready for the summertime.  I recently read the new release in the Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins titled, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, and I wanted to share my thoughts with you on the book. Be warned, there might be some "SPOILERS" in my review/summary of the book. I hope that I don't give too much away but just enough to entice you to read the book too.

    The book opens on the day of the reaping for the 10th Annual Hunger Games. Young Coriolanus Snow is a Senior at the Academy and will soon graduate. This year the Head Gamemaker, Dr. Gaul, has decided to create a program where the Seniors will be mentoring the tributes for the games. If the tribute that the senior is sponsoring wins the games they will also receive an award, and Coriolanus needs that award if he hopes to go to the University after graduation.

    You see the Snow family has fallen on hard times, they are poor. After losing his Mother and Sister during childbirth, then his father during the war, the only family he has left is his elderly Grandmother and a cousin, Tigirs. They have sold most everything of value and are barely able to eat. Of course, you wouldn't know that by the way Coriolanus carries himself, he uses his wit and charm to get most of what he needs.

    When Coriolanus arrives at the school to gather with his classmates to get their tributes and watch the reaping, he hopes for a tribute from one of the better districts, such as District 1- 4. However, Dean Highbootom has other plans for Coriolanus. He has a very strong dislike for Coriolanus that is not disclosed until the end of the book. He assigns Coriolanus the female tribute from District 12, Lucy Gray Baird.

    Lucy Gray is what we would call a Gypsy. She landed in District 12 after the death of her parents during the war along with some of the other children in the Covey. Lucy Gray is something else. When her name was called by the Mayor of District 12, she slipped up behind the Mayor's daughter and put a snake down her dress. Lucy Gray believed that her name was called because the Mayor's daughter wanted Lucy Gray out of the picture so that she good have a chance at Lucy's boyfriend. After the Mayor slaps her across the face, instead of shedding tears, Lucy Gray begins to sing. She captived the audience and the Capitol as she sang her song. This sparked a little hope in Coriolanus that maybe with a little luck and help, she might have a chance a winning the Hunger Games.

    Coriolanus and his classmates are assigned the task of writing a proposal with ideas that will spark everyone's interest in The Hunger Games and get them to invest in the outcome of the games. Some of the ideas were to allow the citizens to bet or place wagers on the tributes to see who would win. Another was to allow people in the Capitol to send gifts to the tributes in the arena that they sponsored for a fee.

    The day of the games has arrived and Coriolanus gives Lucy Gray a small token to help her in the games and to show her how much she cares for her. Several tributes are killed quickly due to starvation, poor health, and other contributing factors. Coriolanus learns that Dr. Gaul intends to release her experimental snakes into the arena and Coriolanus drops a handkerchief that was used by Lucy Gray in the holding tank so that the snakes will have her scent and not attack her. (Yes, I left some information out...can't give out all the details.) After the snakes have done their job, Lucy Gray is declared the winner of the 10th Annual Hunger Games.

    But wait, there is more...Coriolanus's little stunt is discovered and he is found to be a cheater. He is given the choice to leave the Academy and join the ranks of the Peacekeepers. He chooses to go to District 12 in the hopes that he will be able to reunite with Lucy Gray. After a few weeks at camp, he is joined by a fellow classmate, Sejanus Plinth. They decide to go to the Black Market in town where he has been told that Lucy Gray plays on the weekends. Everything seems to be going well for Coriolanus, he is doing well with his training, he is reunited with his classmate and he has found his love, Lucy Gray.

    Not long after their reunion, he discovers that Sejanus plans to help District 12 residents escape North. When he confronts Sejanus and one of the residents about it, the conversation is overheard by Lucy Gray's former boyfriend and the Mayor's daughter. A fight breaks out and the boyfriend is shot by the resident and the daughter is shot by Coriolanus. The resident is captured by never reveals who shot who, but Coriolanus isn't in the clear yet. Sejanus knows what he did before Sejanus can do anything about it, Coriolanus turns Sejanus in for treason, Sejanus is captured and hung. Not knowing where the gun is that Coriolanus used to kill the Mayor's daughter he decides to run away with Lucy Gray after she suggested it.

    The morning he and Lucy Gray set out in the woods to heard North, he sneaks out of the camp without anyone knowing. While traveling through the woods and talking with Lucy Gray he lets it slip that he has killed 3 people, Lucy Gray only knew of two but it doesn't take her long to figure out who the third person was. It begins to rain and they take shelter in an old abandoned home. When Lucy Gray leaves to find food, Coriolanus finds the guns that were used in the killings of the boyfriend and the Mayor's daughter. If he destroys the guns then there is nothing linking him to the murder of the Mayor's daughter. Then he realizes, there is one person that can place him at the scene of the crime, Lucy Gray.

    He takes one of the guns and goes out into the woods to search for Lucy Gray. He finds her scarf and as he gets closer, he is attacked by a snake. Fueled by anger he opens fire on the woods around him hoping to kill Lucy Gray. After a while he throws the guns into the lake and returns to camp.

     The next day he is shipped back to the Capitol where he meets with Dr. Gaul. She informs him that he will receive an Honorable discharge from the Peacekeepers and be enrolled into the University where he will begin his tutelage under her. 

    In the epilogue, Dean Highbottom reveals to Coriolanus that he developed the idea of the Hunger Games as a cruel, but theoretical event for a school project with his father. Without his knowledge, Coriolanus's father presented it to Dr. Gaul and the games became a reality. Coriolanus poisons Dean Highbottom, starting his trademark killing that will fuel his rise to power.

    The book was really good. There is a lot going on in the book and I tried to just hit the high points, to give you a general idea of what to expect. Here are the questions that I have. Did Coriolanus really kill Lucy Gray? Could she be related to Katniss Everdeen? There is no answer to these questions at this time, will we ever know the truth as to what happened to Lucy Gray, maybe not. I believe she is a part of Katniss's family, because of "The Hanging Tree". Read the book and will hopefully see the same connection