Prequels and Whatnot: Midnight Sun and The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes
So yeah, I read both the Twilight rehash and the prequel to The Hunger Games, with varying success. I was never a massive Twilight fan but when I first read the books they were fun diversions, read at an age where Edward’s posessiveness didn’t grate on me, and I didn’t like the film adaptations at all. But I thought Midnight Sun would be fun, I remember reading some of it a few years back when it was leaked and Stephanie declared the project over.
Well it wasn’t over, she had over 700 pages left to tell us. I do not remember Twilight being so long, it’s meant to be the same story told from Edward’s point of view. There were theories that maybe it covered more than one book, but no, it ends as Twilight ends. I would have enjoyed it so much more as a novella. It was funny at first, Edward is thinking like a hundred year old vampire forced to go to school, he plans how best to kill Bella and cover it up. This was great! But then he turns into a mushy, possessive, boy and I still have no idea why he liked Bella so much other than she smelled good.
There were some other aspects I enjoyed though, the snippets of backstory of the Cullens and the whole ending, and cover up, with Alice’s visions guiding their way, was brilliant. It just needed most the middle chopping out.
Another chunkster returning us to a beloved YA franchise was The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. We knew a Hunger Games prequel was coming, but there was widespread dismay when Suzanne revealed it was to focus on a young Corilonius? Snow. I was intrigued…
Snow is not a likable character, you are not meant to like him. He craves control, his background shedding some light on that, they nearly lost everything thanks to the war. There are moments you can pity him, but he is not a simple character and his arc is not one of redemption, even if it comes close at times. We know what he becomes, it was nice to think he was becoming a better person but as you read you are just waiting for the defining moment to happen.
It provided a better understanding of how the games came to be in their current format. Initially more gladiatorial in nature, it’s part of Snow’s education to come up with ideas to keep people engaged, and to keep the people in line. Lucy Baird is the tribute assigned to Snow, coming from a travelling group of performers, and her personality and singing helps get to the point where you can see the idea of the new games forming, with entertainment, a way to gamble and sending favours to your favourites.
In the edition I bought, there’s a Q&A with Suzanne where she talks about the different philosophies contained in the book, how different characters represent different ways of seeing human nature. Do you believe everyone has common decency or is everyone just out to save themselves? Will people behave out of a belief in the way society is run or do you need to scare them into submission by holding the Hunger Games?
Anyway, I thought it was a lot deeper than I was expecting. It wasn’t just a rehash of the first two books, it was much more about the kind of people who allowed that way of governance to take hold and how difficult it can be to effect change when the odds are never in your favour.
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