The “Hunger Games” is coming back to the silver screens, but this time without the girl on fire.
Last year, Scholastic announced that “Hunger Games” author, Suzanne Collins, had written a prequel to her largely successful trilogy. The book titled, “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” is set to be released to the public in May. While it would seem that die-hard “Hunger Games” fans would be thrilled at this announcement, a curious choice for the new book’s centralizing character has left many craving for something else.
Since the release of the first book, the “Hunger Games” franchise has experienced tremendous success globally. The famed four-movie franchise based on the best-selling books earned nearly three billion dollars worldwide and won a variety of awards. The series centralized around a televised tournament in which twenty-four competitors—or tributes—aged twelve to eighteen were selected to fight to the death until a lone victor remained. Fiery underdog and protagonist, Katniss Everdeen, capitalized upon her arrow-firing abilities to become a victor of the seventy-fourth Hunger Games and the hero of a rebellion. The series concluded with an overtake of the oppressive capital and the ending of the televised games, where many children lost their lives.
The upcoming prequel is set sixty-four years before the original series and will follow the early life of “Hunger Games” President Coriolanus Snow, whose active role in the Hunger Games show and nasty habit of poisoning people made him the villain of the trilogy. The unusual decision to provide the backstory of the monstrous dictator and not the backstory of any of the other fan favorites, is already turning readers away from the book. Adding to the controversy is a statement provided by Entertainment Weekly that explains how young Snow will not only be the protagonist but the unlikely hero of this prequel. Fans quickly took to the internet to voice their outrage and many have already expressed that they have no desire to read the upcoming book.
After speaking to a few Wittenberg students, it appears that they do not share the rage expressed by many of the die-hard fans, but are still disappointed with the premise. Anna Crichton (’21) explained how she would read the book, but believes that the plot is, if nothing else, dangerous.
“Should that narrative be explored?” Crichton asked. “Should you be sympathizing with people who cause such terrible things to occur?” Crichton voiced her concern with robbing readers of the decision to determine if Snow’s later actions could ever be excused by his past. She believes that a decision of that magnitude should always be reserved for the reader. Additionally, Crichton agrees that there were many other characters whose backstories she would have preferred to read. As a history major, she especially expressed her interest in the history of the twelve districts and hopes the prequel will explain some aspects of the districts that were unanswered in the original series.
Jessica Pinkerton (’22) explained how she would read the prequel if she had time. Pinkerton explained how she had some difficulty initially getting invested in the original trilogy, as she read it during “a phase, where it came and went from my life, like it seemed to culturally.” Despite the challenge she had originally connecting with the books, she agreed “the series was intriguing, if only because of the cultural impact it seemed to have.”
With rumors that Lionsgate entertainment company will be turning the prequel into a movie, only time will tell the success of this latest “Hunger Games” installment. Though the initial reactions seem harsh, there may still be hope that this new book can satisfy a portion of the fans’ appetites.