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SYFY WIRE The Hunger Games

Hunger Games prequel novel turns the saga's biggest villain into a hero

By Josh Weiss
Donald Sutherland The Hunger Games

Fans of Katniss Everdeen should prepare themselves for a big shock, because Suzanne Collinsupcoming prequel novel to her best-selling Hunger Games trilogy will put its main emphasis on none other than Coriolanus Snow. That's right, the future and antagonistic president of Panem — the man who made Katniss' life a living hell — is the surprising hero of The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, which arrives in May, per Entertainment Weekly.

EW has a posted a snippet from the book, which finds Snow preparing to mentor a Hunger Games participant in order to make the annual event more palatable to the people of Panem. For some strange reason, the citizens of this dystopian America (the insurrection still fresh in their minds) have a problem with kids killing each other on live television. Go figure.

Here's some concept art of young Snow drawn by Charles Chaisso. As you can see, he resembles a young Donald Sutherland, who played the white-haired villain in the live-action films.

As readers glean from the excerpt, right off the bat Collins establishes Coriolanus as a cunning and charming go-getter from the Capitol, who knows how to keep his wits about him. For example, he refuses to allow himself to be intoxicated by a wine-like beverage called "posca" during a pivotal moment in his educational career.

Funnily enough, Snow's tribute mentoree hails from District 12, the very same district that would produce Katniss Everdeen (played by Jennifer Lawrence in live action) almost five decades later. The snippet also name-drops the surname "Heavensbee," a fun easter egg that hearkens back to rebellion leader Plutarch Heavensbee in the original trilogy (played by Philip Seymour Hoffman on the big screen). It seems Plutarch came from a very respectable (not to mention loaded) family.

Hunger Games prequel cover

Set 64 years before the original Hunger Games novel, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes goes on sale from Scholastic on May 19.

A film adaptation is already in development at Lionsgate, which made over $2 billion at the global box office from its four adaptations of Collins’ books.

While there are only three literary entries in The Hunger Games franchise, Mockingjay was split into two films. Francis Lawrence, who took over directing duties from Gary Ross after the first movie, may return for the big-screen Ballad.