Of Songbirds and Snakes

“The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” will be released May 19.

In 2008, Suzanne Collins introduced readers to the world of Panem, a dystopian world set in the ruins of North America, where the Capitol and its outlying 12 districts participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

Now in 2020, Collins is taking us back to Panem with new book, “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes,” a prequel to the trilogy, also being made into a movie by Lionsgate.

“The Hunger Games” centers around 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen after she volunteers for her sister, Primrose, during the annual Reaping, which selects the tributes who participate in the annual games, a fight to the death.

In 2009, the sequel to “The Hunger Games” was released. In “Catching Fire,” the surviving victors of the 74th Games must compete again at the Quarter Quell, a cruel twist of the annual Hunger Games in which surviving victors are reaped to fight again against other surviving victors.

With twists and turns galore, “Catching Fire” led to the final book in the trilogy being released the next year, “Mockingjay.”

Lionsgate, along with Collins, began production on the movie versions in 2011, with the first film being released in 2012. “Catching Fire” was released in 2013. The third book was broken into two parts with the cinematic version, part two picking up in the middle of the book starts.

The prequel book was announced in late 2019, with the new film being announced April 2020. A production or release date has yet to be announced, along with a cast list, however it has been said that the prequel film will focus on Coriolanus Snow, the future President Snow, at the age of 18 as he is chosen as a mentor for the 10th Hunger Games.

In the trilogy, President Snow (Donald Sutherland) is a cruel tyrant whom fans have hated since the very beginning. He rules Panem with an iron fist, and when Katniss and Peeta defy all odds in the 74th Games, his own rebellion ignites within him as he issues a personal vendetta against the two.While the cast list hasn’t been released, there is speculation that Jennifer Lawrence, who played Katniss in the original films, Josh Hutcherson (Peeta Mellark), and Liam Hemsworth (Gale Hawthorne) will not be returning due to the timeline of the books. 

Since “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” takes place roughly 74 years before “The Hunger Games,” the characters we’ve long associated with the trilogy would not be present in the book. 

However, that doesn’t mean we won’t see familiar faces. One of the favorite characters from “Catching Fire” is Mags Flanagan, who served as Finnick Odair’s mentor in his games and makes an appearance in “Catching Fire” as a fellow tribute who teams up with Katniss and Peeta. 

We may also get to see younger versions of Katniss’s mother and maybe even her father, who is not present in the books other than in references, since he died in a mining accident when Katniss was 11. We may also get to meet Gale and Peeta’s parents, as well as a young Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson), who is Katniss and Peeta’s mentor in the 74th Games.

Director Francis Lawrence, who directed three of the four films, will also oversee the newest film. Collins was brought back on for approval of scripts and to help Lawrence with the film.

There hasn’t been any further information released regarding the film. However, Collins’ new book will be released May 19 as originally planned for sale on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

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