I was such a big fan of The Hunger Games trilogy, so of course I had to read this prequel about Coriolanus Snow (i.e. President Snow to-be) as a young, poor, student and mentor in the 10th Hunger Games. Picking up this book, I was intrigued to know how Suzanne Collins would try to make us sympathize with one of the most evil villains in YA literature and had hoped for something that would shake things up and alter my whole impression of him. But unfortunately that didn’t happen. If anything, this book made me like President Snow even less.
Even though the book provided Snow’s perspectives and gave more depth to his character, it didn’t really do enough to endear him to me. It was interesting to learn more about the consequences of the war and how Snow had to struggle with keeping the façade up and protect his family legacy, while starving in post-war Panem. But already from the start, there was something selfish, manipulative and spineless about him, with his ambitions and his need to always keep up appearances. Also his mentorship and kindness towards Lucy Gray was really just another project for his portfolio and a means to get him the desired university scholarship. And as the book continues, he becomes more and more ruthless, willing to do anything, betray anyone, in his quest for power.
I did enjoy the backstory of the games though, and to see how Snow impacted them to evolve the way they did to Katniss’s time. It was also interesting to get the history as to why the mockingjay became a symbol for the rebellion. I loved Lucy Gray Baird’s character and I enjoyed getting to know more about Snow’s cousin Tigris and his grandmother, but I never really felt attached to any of the characters the way I did in the original series. I missed the bravery and honesty of the original characters, and their struggle for the freedom and their willingness to sacrifice themselves for the greater good that made the original story so addictive and engaging.
All in all, this book felt unnecessary. I did enjoy parts of it, but it didn’t make me change my mind about President Snow. My main problem was the lack of characters I loved and rooted for, which made me not feel as invested in this book as I had hoped for. It was also a bit slow and it definitely would have benefited from being shorter. So even though the book was enjoyable enough, it was still quite the disappointment.
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