The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes – by Suzanne Collins

25 06 2020

When a trilogy has been such a huge hit as The Hunger Games was, both as books and films, then a prequel published a decade later is going to be one of two things – excellent like the originals because the author has waited until they have a good story, or awful and they’ve just written it for the cash. I would say this falls into the former category – I really enjoyed reading this!

It’s set about 65 years before the original books, with President Snow an 18 year old in his final year of school, and following the tenth annual Hunger Games competition. The event is far more primitive than the high tech entertainment we were familiar with in the original books, and is just run in an amphitheatre with a few weapons lying around, though the same revolting basic rule still governs it – last alive wins.

Ten years of the games means it’s ten years since the war, and as yet folk haven’t really got into following the games which were created to remind the Districts who is in charge. The Head Gamesmaker is looking for ways to engage both those in the Capitol and in the Districts more, one way they do this is to have final year students in the Capitol mentor a tribute each, and this is where Snow comes in, mentoring the female tribute from District 12. His family has fallen on hard times since the war, but is trying to keep it quiet for the sake of their position in society, and a good result in the games could get Snow a University scholarship to secure his future.

I won’t give anything away, but even at over 500 pages I flew through it! I have one issue with Snow’s character that I’d like to discuss with anyone who’s read it, but won’t leave spoilers here!! But essentially, if you enjoyed the original books, I think you’ll like this.

Re-read: Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins

26 04 2014

The first time I read this I didn’t enjoy it that much, and I read it so quickly so as to find out what happens that I forgot most of it! My housemate would talk about a major plot point and I wouldn’t even remember that it happened, so ready for the first part of the film release later this year, I thought I should read it again!

I enjoyed it much more this time, and I did exactly the same as last time in that I read the last 150 pages (“part iii”) in pretty much one sitting other than stopping for lunch.

I still don’t like the end, I wanted it to end a little differently, but the story is strong, it still twists and turns right up until the end. Definitely a book that hooks you in.

But as we’re due the film soon, I still think I’ll avoid spoilers and just say I misjudged it a little last time, and it really is good!


Edit: 2nd May 2014

I can’t believe in my re-writing this, I forgot the major bit I intended to mention!

There’s a conversation between a couple of characters relatively early on in the book, which is set in the future. It seems to be to be a very direct comment on us:

“If we win, who would be in charge of the government?” Gale asks.

“Everyone, “Plutarch tells him. “We’re going to form a republic where the people of each district and the Capitol can elect their own representatives to be their voice in a centralized government. Don’t look so suspicious; it’s worked before.”

“In books,” Haymitch mutters.

“In history books,” says Plutarch. “And if our ancestors could do it, then we can, too.”

Frankly our ancestors don’t seem much to brag about. I mean look at the state they left us in, with the wars and the broken planet.Clearly they didn’t care about what wold happen to the people who came after them. But the republic idea sounds like an improvement over our current government.

“And if we lose?” I ask.

Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins

7 04 2013

The final Hunger Games book! As a trilogy these books are phenomenal!

This book I’d say was the weakest of the three, but that does NOT make it bad! The speed of time jumps around a lot which gets a bit confusing. There’s a lot going on, but I just didn’t feel it flowed as well as the first couple, the plot was a little more juddered.

This doesn’t mean I still didn’t exclaim out loud at some bits, and yesterday afternoon as I finished it I think I read about 150 pages straight, it’s still one that’s hard to put down!

Again, don’t want to put any spoilers here so won’t discuss the whole outcome with the various elements – but do read it!!


Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

31 03 2013

This book definitely fell into the category of can’t-put-it-down; I read the first half in 2 days, and 3 days later had finished it!

Following the first book we’ve moved on a little while, and deal with the fall out of the events. There are so many twists and turns, I don’t want to write anything for fear of giving away the plot, but just to say, in places this book actually made me gasp audibly – very highly recommended!

catching fire

The Hunger Games – by Suzanne Collins

29 01 2013

Wow, I don’t know when I last read a book this quickly! I saw the film earlier this year, and it was great, but the book (as always) just tells you so much more.

The whole concept behind it is truly horrific. Twelve districts, under rule of “The Capitol”, each year, a girl and boy are taken from each district and put in an arena to fight to the death. All for TV.

And yet it’s told so well, I literally couldn’t put it down. It’s written in the first person, and so it’s just like she’s chatting to you, telling you her story. It makes the relationships and feelings infinitely more believable.

Just a fab book – can’t wait to read the next one!

the hunger games

Divergent – by Veronica Roth

28 10 2016

Having loved the Hunger Games trilogy, I wasn’t sure about trying another YA attempt at utopia which begins to fall apart, but my friends raved about it, so I thought I should give it a try.

This time we have a society split into five “factions”

  • Erudite – values intelligence
  • Candor – values honesty
  • Amity – values peace
  • Dauntless – values bravery
  • Abnegation – values selflessness

On one day every year, all the 16 year olds are assessed to see which faction they are, and then they choose where they will live out the rest of their days. This might be the faction they grew up in, or they may transfer. And they don’t have to choose the one they get in their test results.

It turns out though, that some people just don’t fit into any given faction, their test results are inconclusive, these people are “divergent”. Society doesn’t really acknowledge this and so the best thing to do is pretend you’re not.

For those who fail initiation in their new factions, they are deemed “factionless” and have to go and live outside of society, a little like being homeless I imagined it. But this is at least accepted, better that than being known to be divergent.

It’s not hard to guess that our lead character doesn’t have a smooth ride of it as we join her on the day of assessment and choosing her faction, and from there, follow her through her initiation.

As I alluded to before, of course this system is not perfect. Problems are arising between some of the factions, all is not as it seems on the outside… I think I’ll leave it there for you to discover yourself.

So is it as good as Hunger Games? No I don’t think so, but it’s a good book in itself. I will read the other two, but I spent so long on this one due to things like moving house and going on holiday and changing hours at work…. I think I’ll read something else before getting started on the sequel.


The Magic Finger – by Roald Dahl

31 01 2013

I’ve leant my other Hunger Games books out, so grabbed the next Roald Dahl book in the series while I wait! This one is so short, only 50 odd pages, and lots of that is illustrations! I thought I’d never read it before, but as I got about halfway through I realised I definitely knew the story.

Utterly brilliant, hardly about the finger at all, but about a family that shoots ducks, and how they are punished by the finger…. Easy to read in one sitting, definitely recommended for a quick laugh!

the magic finger