In a statement to the media, Collins says she aims to use the book “to explore the state of nature, who we are and what we perceive is necessary for our survival.”
The prequel will bring readers back to the Panem nation long before Katniss, Gale and Peeta. Set 64 years before The hunger Games, Coriolanus Snow, 18, the future tyrannical president of Katniss’ time, is preparing for the 10th annual Games. We know he will be the mentor of a “tribute”, a sacrificial fighter who will fight to the death to gain television views and maintain the authoritarian Panem regime. We know it will be from district 12, Katniss’ hometown. We know she will not win. But with the exception of a few other clues to the plot, that’s all we know about the book … so far.
In this exclusive clip, Collins reads the opening scene from The ballad of songbirds and snakes. It introduces the new protagonist and his very familiar cousin. Listen.
SUZANNE COLLINS, AUTHOR:
Hi! My name is Suzanne Collins and I am delighted to read you from the beginning of the story.
Coriolanus dropped the handful of cabbage into the pot of boiling water and swore that one day he would never run his lips again. But it was not that day. He needed to eat a large bowl of anemic substance and drink every drop of broth to keep his stomach from growling during the harvest ceremony. He was part of a long list of precautions he took to hide the fact that his family, although living in the penthouse in the most opulent building on the Capitol building, was as poor as the scum of the neighborhood . At the age of eighteen, the heir to the great house of Snow had no other life than his spirit.
His harvest shirt worried him. He had bought a pair of acceptable dark pants on the black market last year, but the shirt was what people were looking at. Fortunately, the Academy provided the uniforms it needed for everyday use. However, for today’s ceremony, students were asked to dress in fashion, but with the solemnity that the occasion dictated. Tigris said to trust him and he did. Only the intelligence of his cousin with a needle had saved him so far. However, he could not expect miracles.
The shirt they had removed from the back of his wardrobe – his father’s, better days – was stained and yellowed with age, half the buttons missing, a burnt cigarette on a cuff. Too damaged to sell even at the worst of times. And it must have been his harvest shirt? This morning he went to a room at daybreak, only to find his missing cousin and shirt. Not a good sign. Had Tigris given up on the old thing and braved the black market in a final effort to find suitable clothing for him? And what the hell would she have in return? Only one thing – itself – and Snow’s house hadn’t fallen that far yet. Or was he falling now while salting the cabbage?
Excerpt from The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes © 2020 by Suzanne Collins. Courtesy of Scholastic Inc.