Update, January 21st, 2020, 4:20 p.m. ET: Okay, we’re feeling a little better about that failed fan theory because there’s no way we were going to guess who the Hunger Games prequel book was going to be about. It’s a legitimate shock. Today, Entertainment Weekly published an excerpt of The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, and with it revealed that the protagonist is…President Snow?
Yes, the same President Coriolanus Snow who acts as Katniss’s (and, basically everyone’s) primary adversary through the Hunger Games series. The dictator and murderer. Here’s what EW has to say about it:
The article asks, “But what if there was more to him than we knew? What if he could be—crazy as it may sound—a hero?” Um, no thank you? At least that’s what the internet has to say in response.
Of all the characters in The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins decided to humanize President Snow. Like we need another story about some tortured white boy. I hate it here. pic.twitter.com/iAxnMrBlJz— merline - hiatus (@merlinereads) January 21, 2020
Me when I discovered President Snow as a teenager is the main character of the new Hunger Games books. pic.twitter.com/PnLAJdZpvz— Justina *Preorder Deathless Divide* Ireland (@justinaireland) January 21, 2020
you mean .... to tell me .... I’ve waited years and preordered the hunger games sequel .... thinking it was abt mags ... for it to be a president snow origin story ... about a rich white boy becoming an authortarian who loves *checks notes* genocide? pic.twitter.com/JgAf9jJxkz— Soraya Bouazzaoui (@warnersadam) January 21, 2020
suzanne collins: the protagonist of the hunger games prequel will be a young president snow— chris (@pottermcu) January 21, 2020
me, still traumatized from finnick’s death and peeta’s torture, in front of her house: pic.twitter.com/IdMIjpIPAo
According to the excerpt, it seems like Snow will act as a mentor for the Hunger Games and will be advising a District 12 girl. Could it be a Snow story that actually acts as a backdoor to this new character’s world? We’ll have to wait until it’s scheduled to be released, on May 19th.
Update, October 8th, 4:50 p.m. EDT: This post has been updated to reflect confirmation about when in time the Hunger Games prequel book will be set.
Update, October 8th, 12:35 p.m. EDT: We were already feeling excited about the news that a Hunger Games prequel was coming, but now that we know the title and can see the book cover, we’re grabbing our bow and arrows to go full Katniss.
The prequel will be titled The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, according to Entertainment Weekly.
With this news comes confirmation that the book will start on the morning of the reaping for the 10th annual Hunger Games—not the 11th, as many fans had suspected. Which means that it’s centering on the Games before the one for which Mags was the victor. While that doesn’t mean that the popular fan theory that this book will center on Mags is entirely disputed (read more on that below) as Mags would be alive during the Dark Days, it does put it as less likely.
Publisher Scholastic revealed the cover on Twitter.
RETURN TO THE HUNGER GAMES! THE BALLAD OF SONGBIRDS AND SNAKES from Suzanne Collins is coming out on May 19, 2020. Pre-order your copy now! #SongbirdsandSnakes #HungerGames https://t.co/0g5zgrmgoz pic.twitter.com/kO1Pwt3ZTK— Scholastic (@Scholastic) October 4, 2019
We’re throwing up our (temporary) three-finger salute to the Mags fan theory, but we’re still super stoked for our return to Panem.
Original post, June 17th: The Hunger Games saga isn’t over just yet. Scholastic just announced that Suzanne Collins is writing a yet-untitled Hunger Games prequel that is slated to hit shelves on May 19th, 2020. It will be the first Panem-set book since the trilogy’s third installment, Mockingjay, was released in 2010. The publisher noted that the book would take place 64 years before Katniss Everdeen competes in the annual Games. Fans of the series immediately did the math and have a theory that the book will follow Catching Fire breakout star, Mags Flanagan.
Quick backstory: The book and movie series follows Katniss Everdeen as she competes in Panem’s annual “Hunger Games,” a televised event in which children fight to the death. In the second book, Catching Fire, Katniss competes in the 75th annual Games and meets Mags Flanagan. Mags is an elderly woman who had won the 11th annual Hunger Games, and she volunteers as tribute at the 75th Games in place of a younger woman. During the competition, Mags becomes one of Katniss’ allies before she eventually sacrifices herself.
True Hunger Games fans did the math and noted that 64 years before the events of Catching Fire would put us right on time to see Mags win the 11th annual games.
Wanna know who won the Hunger Games 64 years before the trilogy?— Jessica James (@literarilyjess) June 17, 2019
It’s a Mags book. https://t.co/5dJFXvY3Mf
MAGS!!! 😭😭😭😭😭😭 pic.twitter.com/HK1qoeBpDw— Maria Hossain is freeeeeeee (@Maria__Hossain) June 17, 2019
Oh GOD. I hear “Mags” and I’m utterly overcome with feels— Zabé/Z.R. Ellor (editing, on hiatus) (@ZREllor) June 17, 2019
Collins has not confirmed whether the prequel would follow Mags, and the author’s official synopsis of the book only states that the prequel will take place during the “Dark Days,” which was 10 years after the failed rebellion that turned the United States into the nightmarish Panem.
Unless there is some weird math trickery going on in Panem, Catching Fire revolves around the 75th annual Hunger Games, and the prequel takes place 64 years before the events of the current books. In case you’re not following, we also did the math: 75 minus 64 equals 11. Mags competed in the 11th Hunger Games, so…the book is totally about Mags. Boom, solved it. Thanks, fans!