New Hunger Games prequel gets a compelling title, book cover

Suzanne Collins’ book prequel gets an eye-catching jacket and an official title.

Author Suzanne Collins’ new Hunger Games prequel officially has a name (and no, Effie Trinket, it is not Mahogany).

As announced Friday on Good Morning America, the upcoming Scholastic book will be titled The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, and will serve as a precursor to the dystopian YA series — which first introduced fans to the fictional world of Panem across three Hunger Games books between 2008 and 2010 — on May 19, 2020.

The book’s cover was also unveiled, featuring a golden mockingjay perched on a branch over a slithering reptile.

Set 64 years before the events of the first Hunger Games book, which set Katniss Everdeen (later portrayed by Jennifer Lawrence across a successful quartet of movie adaptations) on a mission to overthrow an oppressive regime that pitted children against each other in the titular traditional death match, the prequel will detail the events surrounding the 10th Hunger Games.

In a press release, Scholastic President Ellie Berger said the novel “raises important questions about authority, the use of violence, and the truth of human nature,” while the brand’s VP, David Levithan, said the mockingjay’s “new angle” on the cover “is very much in line with the story that Suzanne Collins is telling.”

“With this book, I wanted to explore the state of nature, who we are, and what we perceive is required for our survival,” Collins previously said of the novel. “The reconstruction period 10 years after the war, commonly referred to as the Dark Days — as the country of Panem struggles back to its feet — provides fertile ground for characters to grapple with these questions and thereby define their views of humanity.”

Following the global success of Lawrence’s four Hunger Games films (which grossed roughly $3 billion at the worldwide box office), Lionsgate has hinted that the series could continue via big-screen prequels as well.

“As the proud home of the Hunger Games movies, we can hardly wait for Suzanne’s next book to be published,” studio Chairman Joe Drake said upon The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes‘ announcement in June. “We’ve been communicating with her during the writing process and we look forward to continuing to work closely with her on the movie.”

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