It has been four years since Mockingjay, the fourth and final Hunger Games film, hit theaters. Mockingjay concluded one of the most popular young adult franchises of the decade. Suzanne Collins and The Hunger Games are back with a prequel titled The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes coming out in 2020. The Hunger Games is a young adult series set in a dystopian future.

The Hunger Games film with Jennifer Lawrence.
Credit: Lionsgate Films

Kids the ages of twelve to eighteen go into a drawing to be chosen to participate in an annual broadcast battle to the death. The first novel attracted readers of all ages, selling over 100 million books. This led to the film adaptation starring Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson. The book trilogy came to an end in 2010, and the film series in 2015, with Mockingjay. The series ended on such a somber, bittersweet note with Katniss and Peeta watching their children play on the playground.

The Hunger Games film with Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson.
Credit: Lionsgate Films

Peeta has no recollection of his life before the Hunger Games, and Katniss notes how her children are playing on top of a graveyard. Instead of a fourth novel that gives us an update on where Katniss and Peeta are now, we are going back in time. Back before we ever knew the famous duo.

What Do We Know About The Ballad Of Songbirds And Snakes?

The book cover for The Hunger Games, Mockingjay, prequel, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.
Credit: Scholastic (2019)

Scholastic recently released the title of the upcoming novel: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. The cover features two interesting figures: the first, a picture of a golden Mockingjay, the symbol of Katniss Everdeen and the rebellion she led and the second, a golden snake tangled in the branches. The cover gives a few insights into what fans can expect in the prequel. While other Hunger Games books have included the Mockingjay looking forward, this Mockingjay is looking back.

The Mockingjay’s placement in the round branches may reference Collins’ return to the origins of Panem and the Hunger Games. The snake wrapped around the branches proposes a convoluted entwining of good and bad. Snakes can also mean there are themes of betrayal and questioning trust.

The Mockingjay and the snake appear to be foils of each other in regard to what they represent: returning to your roots and the inner turmoil and unease of their return. While Scholastic has not confirmed the meaning of the cover, fans can expect lots of internal and external struggles between freedom and oppression.

The Premise Of The Upcoming Book

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes will concentrate on the rebuilding period, named The Dark Days. “The Dark Days” were a result of the First Rebellion. The civil war waged between the districts and the Capitol and sixty-four years before the start of The Hunger Games. Sadly, this means that we probably won’t be seeing any of Katniss Everdeen or Peeta Mellark.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.
Credit: PanemUpdates

However, both President Snow and Mags would have been alive during this time. There’s a chance we could see a couple of familiar faces. After District 13 left the rest of the districts to seek freedom, the Capitol’s forces defeated the rebel forces. The Capitol’s win resulted in the institution of the Treaty of Treason, which created the annual Hunger Games. The novel will open on the morning of the 10th annual Hunger Games. 

In a statement about her upcoming novel, Suzanne Collins said,

“With this book, I wanted to explore the state of nature, who we are, and what we perceive is required for our survival. The reconstruction period 10 years after the war… provides fertile ground for characters to grapple with these questions and thereby define their views of humanity.”

Is There A Possible Movie In The Works?

According to Lionsgate chairman Joe Drake, the studio has been working with Collins during her writing process and is very excited to work with her to create the film adaptation. Although Lionsgate itself hasn’t made any announcements about obtaining the film rights to The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, Drake’s statement is a pretty clear indicator that fans can expect a film within the next couple of years.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes will hit U.S. shelves on May 19, 2020. Mark your calendars!