This review was submitted by one of our talented teen virtual volunteers.
Stripped of his family's wealth and depending on water-downed cabbage soup and makeshift shirts to mask his poorness, eighteen-year-old Corionalus Snow leads a double life in order to preserve his image compared to his well-off classmates at the Academy. An opportunity to gain a prize that would pay the tuition fee for University presents itself, and Corionalus becomes a mentor for the 10th Hunger Games. At first, he is disconcerted by getting a female tribute from District 12, one of the poorest and lowest districts, but Lucy Gray Baird proves herself to be an enchanting and inspiring musician that sways the Capitol watchers in her favor.
Coriolanus and Lucy Gray start developing a close, later to become romantic, relationship during the time before the Hunger Games started. Unfortunately, even though they emerged victorious, Coriolanus is found to have cheated by placing a handkerchief with his tribute's scent on it to deter the snakes the Head Gamemaker, Dr. Gaul, sends in. He is sent to District 12 as a Peacekeeper where he is shortly reconciled with one of the other mentors named Sejanus Plinth. Since they were already friends during the mentoring, they settle in with the Peacekeeper life with their bunkmates and the sweets Sejanus's mother mails over. He also reunites with Lucy Gray and meets her band members.
Unfortunately, the bliss is short-lived after Sejanus is hung for associating with rebels and Lucy Gray betrays him after conspiring to flee to the north away from Panem's control. Under the pretense that he was to be shipped off to an elite officer's school, he instead is returned to the Capitol and allowed to attend University by Dr. Gaul's request since he exposed Sejanus. Now with no idea what Lucy Gray's fate was and steeled against love, he goes on his road to become the tyrannical president that Katniss Everdeen overthrows today.
The romance between Coriolanus and Lucy Gray appears unbelievable at worst and forced at best, and the book puts more emphasis on Panem and the history of the Hunger Games, which vary vastly from what Katniss was put through. The games are short and brutal and cast in an old, decrepit arena with much fewer viewers. It also gives us insight into humanity and morality under pressure. Though with less action, fans of the trilogy would find this book an enjoyable read.