Scholastic

This 'The Ballad Of Songbirds & Snakes' Excerpt Is Everything 'Hunger Games' Fans Wanted

When The Hunger Games debuted in 2008, the series was an instant hit, with Lionsgate picking up the rights to adapt it for the big screen. The story of Katniss Everdeen and the yearly reaping of tributes from each District was a perfect blend of reality competition and dystopian revolution. When the novels ended, it seemed like there was little room for a sequel. But now, author Suzanne Collins has written a prequel, with plans for a new film. This The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes excerpt gives readers a taste of the first chapter, and where the book is going to go.

The Hunger Games is a story set in the future, after global disasters have destroyed the United States and the remaining country has been rechristened Panem. The country consists of the Capitol, which is surrounded by a federal district, with the rest divided into 13 outlying districts. Everdeen hailed for District 12, the country's most impoverished area.

At the time the book begins, it is the year of the 74th Hunger Games, indicating that it has been three-quarters of the century since the practice started at the end of the revolution. At the time, Panem is overseen President Coriolanus Snow, who becomes Katniss' main antagonist.

The new novel is set much earlier in Panem's history. The excerpt from the forthcoming audiobook once again begins the morning of the reaping ceremony. But this is a different time and a different angle. It is the 10th annual Hunger Games, 65 years before Katniss will volunteer as tribute, putting the revolution within recent memory. This time, the series is told from Coriolanus Snow's point of view, but he is far from being president yet. Instead, he's a young 18-year old scion of the House of Snow.

But anyone who assumes this story is about a privileged boy living an easy life on his way to inevitable power will be surprised. As the excerpt reveals, the House of Snow is far from the ruling family it becomes. Coriolanus lives in genteel poverty, with a grandmother whose patriotism towards Panem has driven her a little off the deep end, and a sister, desperately working to keep up her brother's appearances in public, for the family.

The excerpt is read by Santino Fontana, Tony-winning Broadway star (Tootsie), best known for his turn in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. You can hear the full 11-minute excerpt here.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes arrives on shelves in hardback and audiobook on Tuesday, May 19, 2020. Pre-orders are available here.