May 2020 marks the return of the most popular young adult dystopian series. Suzanne Collins brings us back to Panem with a new book. "The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes" is a prequel which takes place 64 years before the events the first trilogy.
10 years since Suzanne Collins published the first book in the Hunger Games trilogy and started a global phenomenon, the trilogy has sold more than 100 million copies in the world. It also became one of the most lucrative film franchises of all time. Now, nearly four years after the release of the fourth and final Hunger Games movie, Collins is back with The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, a prequel story with a surprising protagonist — President Snow, the antagonist of the original "Hunger Games" trilogy.
In The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay, readers were introduced to Panem, a country divided into “districts”. After a rebellion led by District 13 and resulting in a war, the Capitol instituted the Hunger Games, a punishment for the rebellion to ensure it doesn’t happen again. In the Games, a girl and boy from each district are chosen to compete in a battle to the death, all played out on TV for others’ entertainment. Katniss Everdeen, played by Jennifer Lawrence in the ever-popular movies, becomes tribute, or competitor, for the very poor District 12, but soon becomes a symbol of a new rebellion for her people.
Back to the fictional world of Panem.
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes takes place 64 years before the events of the "Hunger Games" series.
Just like in the original trilogy, the Hunger Games exist as a way to punish the 12 districts for fighting against the Capitol, however it hasn't yet become the spectacle it would grow into in later years.
The prequel opens on the morning of the reaping, where 24 tributes will be selected to fight in the 10th annual Hunger Games. Eighteen-year-old Coriolanus Snow is set to mentor one of them and hopes that this shot at glory will let him rescue his esteemed family from the relatively penniless life they've led since the recent war.
Snow is initially horrified when he's assigned to mentor the female tribute from District 12, who hails from the country's poorest region and seems unlikely to win. However, when his mentee, the charismatic young folk singer Lucy Gray, shows promise in the face of the brutal early Hunger Games, he plots to help her win — and use her to make himself a powerful figure in the process.
On returning to the world of The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins said, “With this book, I wanted to explore the state of nature, who we are, and what we perceive is required for our survival. The reconstruction period ten years after the war, commonly referred to as the Dark Days—as the country of Panem struggles back to its feet—provides fertile ground for characters to grapple with these questions and thereby define their views of humanity.”
Listen To Suzanne Collins Read An Exclusive Excerpt From 'The Hunger Games' Prequel
Cover art by Tim O’Brien © 2020 Scholastic Inc.
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