The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes: Top Ten Pointers to the Trilogy

Amazon.com: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (A Hunger Games ...

It’s been an exciting past week or so here for serious readers, from J.K. Rowling’s new slow-release of The Ickabog to the release of the new Hunger Games prequel, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. We’ve already taken a few looks here at the new prequel, which will doubtless continue to yield further treasures upon repeated readings. If you have not yet checked out The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, I hope you will, and that you will join our conversation on its many layers. One of the most interesting features is the way in which the novel uses foreshadowing for events that we, savvy readers of the original trilogy, already know well. Although set 64 years before Katniss Everdeen’s name comes out of the Reaping bowl in the well-manicured hand of Effie Trinket, this novel should only be read by those who have already completed the trilogy. Like the Star Wars prequels, with moments like Obi-Wan Kenobi chiding his friend Anakin Skywalker, “You’re going to be the death of me,” BSS  is an experience that only works if the readers know what is coming. This is a useful technique in literature and film. After all, we cannot gasp with horror when Oedipus declares that the murderer of Laius will be exiled and live in misery, unless we are familiar with the myth, so we know he himself is the man he seeks and that he will indeed be ruined and miserable.  We cannot mentally headslap people in Titanic when they declare the ship’s invincibility if we do not know that the ship is going down, along with many of its passengers and their hubris.

So here are our first “top ten” moments and themes of The Ballad of Songbirds Snakes that point to and set up the trilogy we already know, some of us quite well. This is just the start to a much longer list, one that I am sure will grow with each reading. [Read more…]

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, First Thoughts on a Sad, Familiar Song

When I first started using The Hunger Games in my college English 111 courses, it was an obscure little book, and I was the only one in any of my classes who had read it before the first day. But times have changed over the past Hunger Games': All about the new 'Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes'decade. I still use the book in my classes, mainly because I have not found anything else that works so well. In that time, movies have been made(with some of my students as extras), popularity has swelled, and my students who don’t pay attention to my constant harping on the importance of the number three in the trilogy (they are confused by four films), keep saying they want a “fourth” book. Instead of spoiling the beautiful symmetry of the original trilogy, the master Gamemaker herself brings us a prequel, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, which is both its own special sort of creature and a perfect companion to the original trilogy.

If you haven’t yet read Suzanne Collins’s just-released prequel to The Hunger Games trilogy, fear not, spoilers won’t crop up until after the break, but, if you have read the novel already, or don’t mind the spoilers, join me for a quick round-up of first thoughts, using the three major elements of the title, Snakes, Songbirds, and Ballads, but in reverse order (why? There are many reasons, actually, but I may fall back on the old excuse that I am an ornery mountain woman with excessive book learning). There will be many more posts to come, but we’ll start the dance here.

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