Before it came out, I was so excited. What was Panem like before the 74th Hunger Games? When will it take place? What's it going to be about? When it was revealed that it was going to be about President Snow's early years, I was even more excited! I was expecting a true, villainous origin story for President Coriolanus Snow; however, what I got was anything but. He's just a poor privileged boy in the Capitol who is chosen as a mentor to one of the participants in the 10th Annual Hunger Games. And it just so happens to be the girl from District 12. Oh, how conveniently similar to the original trilogy.
Sure, there is plenty of interesting stuff. Like Coriolanus's cousin being Tigris, the cat-like shopkeeper from Mockingjay. That was neat. And that it was Coriolanus's idea to make betting on the Hunger Games and sponsoring tributes a thing. Yeah! Great! That's what I want to read about! But then... we go through the games and there's a winner (guess who!) and then Snow becomes a peacekeeper and moves to District 12? What? No thank you. Read the book or listen to the episode to get the full story because I'm not spoiling it here.
I would have loved it so much more if this were a story about the history of the Hunger Games. Or if it were about a character that had nothing to do with the original trilogy. Maybe then I wouldn't have minded the name drops and clear pandering to fans of the series, but you know what? Panem isn't a small town made up of 20 or so families. It's an entire country. There are more people in the nation than the Flickermans (I did love this Flickerman though, not going to lie) and the Cranes and the Heavensbees. There are more districts than just District 12. Set it somewhere else! Do more! Do better! We know you can! It could have been so great, but it just wasn't.
Anyway, you can listen to the episode for more details and complaints about this book. Here's a recording picture. You can see the sheer joy in our faces, can't you?
Snow Lands On Top,