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Ambition will fuel him.
Competition will drive him.
But power has its price.
It is the morning of the reaping that will kick off the tenth annual Hunger Games. In the Capitol, eighteen-year-old Coriolanus Snow is preparing for his one shot at glory as a mentor in the Games. The once-mighty house of Snow has fallen on hard times, its fate hanging on the slender chance that Coriolanus will be able to outcharm, outwit, and outmaneuver his fellow students to mentor the winning tribute.
The odds are against him. He’s been given the humiliating assignment of mentoring the female tribute from District 12, the lowest of the low. Their fates are now completely intertwined — every choice Coriolanus makes could lead to favor or failure, triumph or ruin. Inside the arena, it will be a fight to the death. Outside the arena, Coriolanus starts to feel for his doomed tribute . . . and must weigh his need to follow the rules against his desire to survive no matter what it takes.
- ISBN-13: 9781338635171
- ISBN-10: 1338635174
- Publisher: Scholastic Press
- Publish Date: May 2020
- Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.9 x 1.7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
- Page Count: 528
- Reading Level: Ages 12-17
A peek behind the curtain at the new 'Hunger Games' prequel
Scholastic editor David Levithan reflects on working with Suzanne Collins on her hotly anticipated Hunger Games prequel, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.
How did you balance the way The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes would speak to adults who grew up reading the Hunger Games, as well as to a new generation of teen readers?
I think what’s so exciting about the book is that it will appeal both to fans and to a new generation of readers. As to how we maintained this, we were lucky to have two editors on this project: my colleague Kate Egan and me. Kate reread the trilogy right before we started work, so it was fresh in her mind. I did not—so I represented all the readers who loved the books but who might not have stopped by Panem since the last book (or movie) was released. We had to make sure it worked for both of us—and it did.
Collins has explained that The Hunger Games was inspired by her experience of channel-surfing between a reality TV show and news footage of the war in Iraq. Have contemporary realities similarly informed this new book?
I can’t speak for Suzanne about specific inspirations. But I will say that the book engages larger philosophical issues about power and personhood. It’s striking that they are as relevant now as they were a decade ago . . . or hundreds of years ago.
“The book engages larger philosophical issues about power and personhood. It’s striking that they are as relevant now as they were a decade ago . . . or hundreds of years ago.”
What was it like when you read The Hunger Games for the first time?
Just when I think I know where Suzanne is going with a book, she always manages to drop the floor out from beneath me. With many of the authors I edit, you get to know their writing well enough that you can see into their bag of tricks. Suzanne’s bag of tricks is still a complete mystery to me.
Editors shape books in subtle, invisible ways; other times, their involvement can be more straightforward. Will you share with us something in any of Collins’ books that’s there because of you?
During the writing of the trilogy, when the first drafts came in, it was a little clear who Suzanne felt had the greater claim on Katniss’ heart. So to make it more of a fair fight, I argued a lot for Gale, which I believe in Suzanne’s head made me very Team Gale. (I believe this because at some point she told me, “You’re Team Gale.”) But honestly? If Katniss were going to choose either of them, I’m glad she made the choice she did.
What is one of Collins’ unique strengths as a writer or as a storyteller?
Not many of us manage to write books that effectively challenge readers to question how they see the world and how they see their role within it. But that’s exactly what Suzanne does.
Writers often mention things they learn from their editors. What’s something you’ve learned from Collins?
Rarely have I seen someone structure a story as deliberately and as well as Suzanne. Editorially, I am by nature a tinkerer. But I know not to try to tinker with Suzanne’s structure, because its calibrations are vital to the storytelling.
What’s something about Collins that might surprise readers, who only know her from her words on the page?
I think the natural thing for readers to do is conflate authors with their most famous characters. So I’d understand if people assume Suzanne loves to forage through the wilderness in her free time. But really, she likes the feel of a good recliner as much as the rest of us.