Book Review: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes – Suzanne Collins

Book Review: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes – Suzanne Collins

Header (46)
Series:
The Hunger Games #0.5
Release Date: May 19th 2020
Publisher: Scholastic Books
Pages: 624
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I bought a copy of this in my local supermarket
Rating: 2/5 stars

Synopsis

Ambition will fuel him.
Competition will drive him.
But power has its price.

It is the morning of the reaping that will kick off the tenth annual Hunger Games. In the Capitol, eighteen-year-old Coriolanus Snow is preparing for his one shot at glory as a mentor in the Games. The once-mighty house of Snow has fallen on hard times, its fate hanging on the slender chance that Coriolanus will be able to outcharm, outwit, and outmaneuver his fellow students to mentor the winning tribute.

The odds are against him. He’s been given the humiliating assignment of mentoring the female tribute from District 12, the lowest of the low. Their fates are now completely intertwined—every choice Coriolanus makes could lead to favor or failure, triumph or ruin. Inside the arena, it will be a fight to the death. Outside the arena, Coriolanus starts to feel for his doomed tribute . . . and must weigh his need to follow the rules against his desire to survive no matter what it takes.

Review

Copy of book cover (18)The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is the recently released prequel to The Hunger Games trilogy. In this story we follow Coriolanus Snow, who grows up to become the infamous President Snow in the original books. We follow Snow as he becomes a mentor in the games to the District 12 tribute, where he must use all his wits and smarts to keep his tribute alive and win the competition.

I must admit when I heard this was being released I was pretty excited. I loved The Hunger Games growing up and I had pretty high expectations for this. Unfortunately this just was not for me. Following Snow felt like a bit of a surprise choice for a prequel, there were so many fascinating characters in the original trilogy that I would loved to know more about – Snow just wasn’t one of them.

The story is pretty slow paced and while I did find some parts of the competition it often felt like I was slogging through the chapters. Snow is a very unlikeable main character and so I found it difficult to care about what was going on. I think The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes did have potential, but the pacing really did not work for me. It’s a pretty chunky book but only the last few chapters actually held my interest. The ending felt a bit on the rushed side, compared to the slow opening. As much as I wanted to love it this really made me struggle reading it.

If you loved the original books I’d definitely recommend giving this one a go, plenty of Hunger Games fans have absolutely loved it and it was interesting being back in the world. Overall however this one just wasn’t for me.
2 Stars

Book Review: All Your Twisted Secrets – Diana Urban

Book Review: All Your Twisted Secrets – Diana Urban

Header (33)
Release Date:
March 17th 2020
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 400
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 2.25/5 stars

Synopsis

Welcome to dinner, and again, congratulations on being selected. Now you must do the selecting.

What do the queen bee, star athlete, valedictorian, stoner, loner, and music geek all have in common? They were all invited to a scholarship dinner, only to discover it’s a trap. Someone has locked them into a room with a bomb, a syringe filled with poison, and a note saying they have an hour to pick someone to kill … or else everyone dies.

Amber Prescott is determined to get her classmates and herself out of the room alive, but that might be easier said than done. No one knows how they’re all connected or who would want them dead. As they retrace the events over the past year that might have triggered their captor’s ultimatum, it becomes clear that everyone is hiding something. And with the clock ticking down, confusion turns into fear, and fear morphs into panic as they race to answer the biggest question: Who will they choose to die?

Review

Copy of book cover (20)Debut YA thriller All Your Twisted Secrets is a story that follows five teenagers who have been awarded scholarships for college. Invited to a celebratory dinner, the group find themselves locked in the restaurant where they discover a bomb and a syringe full of poison. The only note tells them they must pick someone to poison, or they will all die when the bomb goes off. The question is who do the choose, and who put locked them in in the first place?

I really wanted to love this book. I thought it would be another One Of Us Is Lying, it sounded exactly like the kind of thing I would enjoy. However this one just fell a bit flat for me. For me it was just a bit too unrealistic, and the reveal at the end just didn’t work for me at all. The plot jumps around a lot between the current situation and the past and while I enjoyed seeing the secrets unravel and the characters trying to figure out which person to kill, it wound up feeling a bit on the repetitive side. I had expected a bit more tension, to be on the edge of my seat but the story just didn’t click for me in that way.

I liked the characters well enough, our main protagonist Amber is interesting but aside from them fulfilling their roles of ‘queen bee’ ‘athlete’ ‘band geek’ ‘stoner’ and ‘valedictorian’ there wasn’t all that much too them. I would have loved the chance to get to know the characters a bit better and then perhaps that would have made me more invested in the overall story.

That being said, Urban does have a really nice writing style and it was easy to keep turning the pages. I thought this book had a really fascinating premise and if you’re a fan of YA thrillers this could be one you’ll really love – it’s a fast paced read and has an ending you probably won’t see coming.
2 Stars