In the 12 years since author Suzanne Collins introduced Katniss Everdeen to readers, The Hunger Games franchise has published more than 100 million books in 54 languages. On May 19, Collins will publish a prequel to the trilogy, titled The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, with a 2,500,000-copy first printing. The story has already been greenlit for a Lionsgate film adaptation, reuniting the team behind the previous films, director Francis Lawrence, screenwriter Michael Arndt, and producer Nina Jacobson.
In a media statement, Collins says she aims to use the book "to explore the state of nature, who we are, and what we perceive is required for our survival."
The prequel will return readers to the nation of Panem long before Katniss, Gale, and Peeta. Set 64 years before The Hunger Games, an 18-year-old Coriolanus Snow — the to-be tyrannical president of Katniss’s time — prepares for the 10th annual Games. We know he’ll mentor a “tribute,” a sacrificial fighter who will battle to the death to gain television views and maintain Panem’s authoritarian rule. We know she'll be from District 12, Katniss’s home district. We know she won’t win. But with the exception of a few other clues about the plot, that’s all we know about the book... until now.
In this exclusive clip, Collins reads the opening scene from The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. She introduces the new protagonist and his very familiar cousin. Listen in.
SUZANNE COLLINS, AUTHOR:
Hi there! I'm Suzanne Collins and I'm thrilled to read to you from the opening of the story.
Coriolanus released the fistful of cabbage into the pot of boiling water and swore that one day it would never pass his lips again. But this was not that day. He needed to eat a large bowl of the anemic stuff, and drink every drop of broth to prevent his stomach from growling during the reaping ceremony. It was one of a long list of precautions he took to mask the fact that his family, despite residing in the penthouse of the Capitol’s most opulent apartment building, was as poor as district scum. That at eighteen, the heir to the once-great house of Snow had nothing to live on but his wits.
His shirt for the reaping was worrying him. He had an acceptable pair of dark dress pants bought on the black market last year, but the shirt was what people looked at. Fortunately, the Academy provided the uniforms it required for daily use. For today’s ceremony however, students were instructed to be dressed fashionably but with the solemnity the occasion dictated. Tigris has said to trust her and he did. Only his cousin’s cleverness with a needle had saved him so far. Still, he couldn’t expect miracles.
The shirt they'd dug from the back of the wardrobe — his father’s, from better days — was stained and yellowed with age, half the buttons missing, a cigarette burn on one cuff. Too damaged to sell in even the worst of times. And this was to be his reaping shirt? This morning he’d gone to a room at daybreak, only to find both his cousin and the shirt missing. Not a good sign. Had Tigris given up on the old thing and braved the black market in some last-ditch effort to find him proper clothing? And what on Earth would she possess worth trading for it? Only one thing — herself — and the house of Snow had not yet fallen that far. Or was it falling now as he salted the cabbage?
Excerpt from The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes © 2020 by Suzanne Collins. Provided courtesy of Scholastic Inc.