'Hunger Games' prequel is an origin story of the young 'hero' who later becomes President Snow

Donald Sutherland as President Snow in The Hunger Games (Credit: Lionsgate)
Donald Sutherland as President Snow in The Hunger Games (Credit: Lionsgate)

Writer Suzanne Collins has released a first look at the prequel novel in her Hunger Games series, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.

But the 'hero' of the story will come as something of a blow to fans of both the novels and the movies – it is the young Coriolanius Snow.

Snow, of course, later becomes the despotic villain of the books The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay, the president of the post-apocalyptic Panem, and ruler of the Capitol.

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The new book is set 64 years before the events of The Hunger Games, beginning on the morning of the 10th annual Hunger Games, in which a group young people from each district are chosen to fight each other in a televised death match.

An exclusive excerpt has now been published in Entertainment Weekly, noting 'Snow as our new protagonist, a teenager born to privilege but searching for something more, a far cry from the man we know he will become. Here, he’s friendly. He’s charming. And, for now anyway, he’s a hero'.

Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay (Credit: Lionsgate)
Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay (Credit: Lionsgate)

Snow was played by a gleefully evil Donald Sutherland in all four movies (the final book was split in two), the first helmed by Gary Ross, and the latter three by Francis Lawrence.

They starred Jennifer Lawrence as the reluctant revolutionary Katniss Everdeen, and made nearly $3 billion in all at the box office - around £2.2 billion.

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Lionsgate has already optioned Collins new book for a movie, even before it hits book shops on May 19, with Francis Lawrence said to be a likely candidate to direct.

She said of the new novel last year: “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 ten 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.”