In June, Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins announced a new prequel to the bestselling series, set for release on May 19, 2020. Today at New York Comic Con, Scholastic revealed the cover to the upcoming novel, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.
Fans received a few hints at the plot with the initial announcement in June. The prequel will take place on the morning of the reaping of the 10th Hunger Games, 64 years prior to the first book in the Hunger Games trilogy. In the press statement, Collins described her approach to the new book as exploring the state of nature and what is required for 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,” Collins shared.
With this timeline, stars of the Hunger Games trilogy like Katniss, Peeta, and Gale are unlikely to appear in the new book. However, at least two major characters, Mags and President Snow, could play a role in The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.
David Levithan, VP, Publisher, and Editorial Director for Scholastic, shared more hints of what the cover might mean. “This cover does an extraordinary job of capturing the conflict—both inner and outer—that lies at the heart of The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes,” Levithan said. “The mockingjay has returned, but at a new angle… which is very much in line with the story that Suzanne Collins is telling.”
The cover art provides some clues to the themes readers might expect in the prequel. As highlighted by Levithan, the image shows a mockingjay, but while other Hunger Games books have featured the mockingjay looking forward or out, this mockingjay appears to be looking back. The mockingjay’s perch on branches may reference the prequel’s return to the roots of Panem and the Hunger Games. But the intertwining of the roots with the image of a snake suggests a complicated interweaving of good and evil, and a question of what can be trusted. While Scholastic has not yet revealed many details of the upcoming novel, readers can expect a new perspective on the world of the Hunger Games and complex narrative on right and wrong.
The Hunger Games trilogy is a young adult series set in a post-apocalyptic future where children aged 12-18 are selected each year to compete in a televised fight to the death. The series showed great appeal to both young and adult readers, selling more than 100 million books since first released in 2008. It was also adapted into film franchise starring Jennifer Lawrence.
This news of the first Hunger Games book released since 2010 has many fans wondering if they can expect additional movies in the franchise. While no official announcement has been made about a film adaptation of The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, Lionsgate, the studio behind the record-breaking Hunger Games movies, hinted as early as 2015 that prequel films may be coming.