Rating 3/5 stars
The one star ratings from other reviewers seem a bit harsh. While I wasn't sure what to expect when going into this prequel, it wasn't terrible. But unfortunately, it wasn't great. Knowing what we know about President Snow, it was hard to imagine what I would gain from his backstory. Snow, to me was not a character you could empathize with in the original trilogy. But I don't think it was Suzanne's intention to gain that from her readers. Fair, but still... this book was... something.
Snow spent basically this entire story with an extreme lack of self-awareness. There were times where I found myself going "aww, that was sweet." Until I realized that his actions were just a ploy to get what he wanted. Attention, praise, and power. This story was told from his POV and we are introduced to many, (Too fucking many) new characters. And if you're familiar with the Hunger Games books, then you know that the names are typically outlandish and odd. The 24 mentors are mentioned quite a few times, and I found myself giving some of them nicknames to keep up with who was who. The only characters besides Snow that I could name if you asked me, are Sejanus, Lucy, Sigris, Clemensia and Arachne. I bet you got a headache just from reading that, didn't you? LOL
But I did enjoy the trip down memory lane we got with this book. It was nice to see how the brutal early days of the games were, and how Snow's relationship with Lucy inspired how he ran the Capitol and the games years later. I do feel like some scenes involving the tributes fighting in the arena could've been cut down, since it didn't provide anything new that we hadn't seen the previous books.
Besides Tigris, Lucy and Sejanus, there were no characters with REAL positive standout qualities. There was no one to really root for in this book and pretty much everyone was one-dimensional. Sejanus & Tigris seemed to be the only ones with a conscience. Which partially came from Sejanus having lived in the Districts as a kid. Which is another aspect of this story I didn't care for. The mentors being Capitol people meant that they didn't care at all about their tributes. At least in the original books, the mentors were also from the Districts, which made sense. These people were hardly mentors at all. Just temporary pet owners observing a dog fight.
I believe good prequels can be read first or last. Some serve as a good introduction to a series. But this isn't a book I would read first. I probably would've DNF'd it a few chapters in had I not been a Hunger Games fan already. By the 75% mark I was ready for it to reach the climax and be over. This prequel was a missed opportunity to give us a story from someone else like Haymitch. I'm going to end my review here before I start thinking too much and reduce it to 2 stars. Would I recommend this book? I guess? It has it's moments, and the nostalgia is there. But if you want to love it, you probably won't.
You can check it out on Amazon, Your local library apps, or Audible!
Follow Hardy Publications on Facebook!