Are you looking to dive back into your middle school obsession with “The Hunger Games?” Look no further. Suzanne Collins released a prequel to the original trilogy, and it will bring you right back. Here are my thoughts on the new book and if you should read it.

“The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” tells the story of a young Coriolanus Snow before he became the evil president that we know from Katniss’ story.

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Set during the 10th annual Hunger Games, 18-year-old Snow is chosen to mentor a tribute in the Games in the hopes of securing a scholarship to the university if he can produce a victor. He’s paired with 16-year-old Lucy Gray Baird from District 12.

The story follows Coriolanus and Lucy Gray on their journey through the Games and their aftermath. We see Snow’s constant internal battle between morality, pride and family loyalty which gives a lot of insight into his character.

While reading this book, I actually started to root for Coriolanus though I knew what he would become, as the Snow in “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” and the Snow from the original trilogy feel like two different people.

But while Snow’s backstory is a large part of the novel, the best part of the book, and the reason you should read it if you’re a “The Hunger Games” fan, is the greater context that it provides for the original trilogy.

If you left the original series with questions about Panem, this book will give you a lot of the answers. It explores who came up with the idea of The Hunger Games and how they became the pageant-like event that Katniss and Peeta experienced.

It also gives insights into the revolution that led to the creation of The Hunger Games and its devastating effects on not only the Districts but the Capitol as well.

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In the original trilogy, we see the Capitol citizens as rich and sheltered. But, “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” gives a new perspective as we learn that the citizens of the Capitol experienced many atrocities during the war and that the aftermath was devastating for them as well. This context adds another level of complexity to the idea of the Hunger Games as a punishment for the Districts.

But while the content of the book is fantastic, it does get slow at times and can be tough to get through if you’re not interested in Snow or Panem’s backstory.

So, should you read it? The answer is — it depends. If you liked the original books, but don’t care to know more about Panem or Snow, you should probably skip it. If you were into the original trilogy and want to know more, I’d say go for it!

And if you’re not ready to put the time into reading the book, a feature film adaptation has been greenlit by Lionsgate, so it seems the story will be coming to screens eventually. For now, pick up a copy, and may the odds be ever in your favor!