Friday, June 12, 2020

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

DNF @ p.101

Me going on a date with The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.

Me: So what do you like to do for fun?

TBoSaS: Cabbage soup.

Me: Uh huh.

TBoSaS: Roman names.

Me: Uh huh. *signalling desperately to the waiter for a glass of wine* Those aren't really hobbies you know.

TBoSaS: Hobbies?

Me: You know, things that give your life meaning.

TBoSaS: Oh.

Me: Yeah.

TBoSaS: Does hating on the poors and being surprised that they have feelings count?

Me: This date is over.

So, nobody was looking forward to THE BALLAD OF SONGBIRDS AND SNAKES more than I was and if they say they are, they are liars. Even though a prequel with Coriolanus Snow seemed a bit like a cash grab, I was still willing to put down a "soul of my firstborn" down payment to get my grabby little hands on a copy of this book because I love a good villain origin story.

Keyword: good.

I think the problem here is that it feels so impersonal and boring. The first three books were all narrated in first person and had tautly written action scenes so everything felt very in the moment and urgent. We see the Capitol from Katniss's eyes as this glittering bacchanalia of conspicuous consumption while she and her people are literally starving and she is horrified that she has to compete to the death for the entertainment of these awful people who don't care whether she lives or dies as long as she puts on a good show. Children, for these people, are just another commodity.

Here, it doesn't really work. We already know that the Capitol looks down on the other districts. Seeing Coriolanus bitch and moan about being in genteel poverty while in the same breath whining about how his mentoring Tribute is from the grodiest district doesn't really add anything new to the narrative. And it doesn't help that Lucy Gray is a manic pixie dreamgirl who literally arrives on stage in a frilly ruffled dress, singing stupid songs that take up waaaaay too much of the page count.

And if I heard Coriolanus talk about his fecking cabbage soup one more time.

I can't. I just can't. RIP my untarnished memories of the original series, because this bloated 500-page mess crapped all over it. I think the author would have been better off writing about the first Hunger Games, or one of the games that took place in extreme conditions (like the arctic one), or maybe about a more sympathetic character, like Haymitch or Finnick. I would LOVE to read about Haymitch or Finnick's competitions in the Games and seeing how they got to be the fucked up and jaded individuals that they were in the books. That is the kind of subtle darkness that I expected from the series. I wish it had panned out with this one, but I was mostly just really, really bored.

Date over. And I hope you know, you're paying for that wine, TBoSaS.

1 out of 5 stars

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