#1 New York Times best-selling author Suzanne Collins wrote one of the most iconic book-series back in 2010 when the third- and final Hunger Games novel Mockingjay dropped along with the last movie adaptation in 2015. And then, we never heard from her again… Until this year, when she announced that a brand-new prequel book titled The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes – taking place 64 years before the events of The Hunger Games – is set to come out May 2020! Ten years after the finale of the epic trilogy.
The Rise of The Hunger Games and the Dystopian Genre
If you still don’t know, The Hunger Games Trilogy is a three-book series about the 16-year old Katniss, who volunteers to take her younger sister’s place in the 74th Hunger Games. Taking place in a futuristic dystopian country called Panem, 24 tributes are reaped to participate in the annual fight-to-the-death competition on live TV, until one victor remains. You probably have at least seen the films starring Jennifer Lawrence, which in total – with four movies spanning from 2012 to 2015 – have grossed over almost three billion dollars worldwide. The Hunger Games was especially praised for its realistic socio-political themes, world-building, and how it dealt with poverty, war and revolution, grounding it in typical dystopian fiction of the time.
The Fall of the Dystopian Empire
Coming out in a time where the genre of dystopia was at its heyday, The Hunger Games also paved the way for so many other dystopian books to be published and to be made into movie adaptations, such as Divergent and The Maze Runner. Dystopian in (modern) fiction means that stories mainly focus on the social and political structures of a futuristic world governed by oppressive and corrupt governments, usually in the aftermath of post-apocalyptic events. Societies basically had to ‘‘re-set’’ – after a nuclear war or deadly plague, for example – and that’s when the nightmare world of a dystopia comes in.
When the last movie, Mockingjay Part 2, came out four years ago, the dystopian genre in book and film literature kind of died down. We didn’t really get to see anything in pop culture about it anymore as the hype under young-adults faded. We also didn’t hear much from the author after the series was coming to its end and she certainly did not release any other works since 2010. But that was until the announcement dropped in June this year: Suzanne Collins was to come out with a Hunger Games-prequel novel next year. As a dystopian future seems more and more realistic these past few years, perhaps she got her awakening call again after almost a ten-year hiatus.
If that is not the biggest power move, I don’t know what is
The New Hunger Games Prequel
The most anticipated book of 2020 is definitely The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. Years after the release of the immensely popular and critically acclaimed Hunger Games Trilogy, this prequel is to come out along with plans for a new movie adaptation by Lionsgate! Suzanne Collins revisits the dystopian world of Panem, taking place 64 years before Katniss volunteered for the 74th Hunger Games. Not much is known about the plot, only that it will (mainly) follow the competitors of the 10th Hunger Games.
With this book, Suzanne Collins has stated in a Scholastic press release that she 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.’’
Many people have speculated that this book might follow Mags, the victor of the 11th Hunger Games, who appeared in the book and movie ‘Catching Fire’ as one of Katniss’s allies. As The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes focuses on the 10th Hunger Games, on the morning of the Reaping, the chance is slim that it will feature the young Mags. Fortunately, the novel will be delving deeper into the world of the Hunger Games, with the same underlying themes of survival against humanity and life against love – and millions of fans could not be more excited.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Syndrome
However, some are worried that this new book could turn into a Harry Potter and the Cursed Child 2.0-situation. If you didn’t know, J.K Rowling – author of another iconic book-series: Harry Potter – released a sequel in 2016, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Written originally by other authors as well, it takes place nineteen years after the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, centering around Harry and his friends as adults. It was met with a lot of criticism by the fandom, arguing it felt like ‘‘bad fan-fiction’’, and the book was not considered to be canon by many. But as The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes will only be written by Suzanne Collins, let’s all hope that this won’t be the same case.
Rebirth of the Dystopian Empire
Can we talk about how iconic Suzanne Collins is? She wrote a pop-culture phenomenon – adapted into worldwide blockbusters, over 65 million copies sold, translated into over 51 languages, and revolutionized the dystopian genre – and then she completely dipped. If that is not the biggest power move you’ve seen, then what is? And now, the renowned author is set to make her return and save us all, just in time for the 2020 presidential elections. But the question remains: will she deliver? Will the Dystopian Empire rise again from the ashes? The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes comes out on May 19th, 2020 and it won’t be long after until the movie adaptation, so we shall definitely see.
Cover: Danny Cao