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For years, readers have speculated whether author Suzanne Collins would revisit the world of The Hunger Games, and to the delight of her fans, she’s returned to the Republic of Panem with a surprising twist. Her newest novel, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (Scholastic), is a prequel to The Hunger Games featuring a shocking, yet familiar, protagonist — the most despicable of the trilogy’s characters, President Coriolanus Snow.

Readers will recall that Katniss Everdeen was The Hunger Games’ sixteen year-old protagonist who lived with her widowed mother and sister, Prim, in District 12, the coal-mining district of Panem. In Collins’s post-apocalyptic North America, not only were the fourteen poverty-stricken districts responsible for sustaining the Capitol, a city of extravagance and waste, but they each sacrificed two children to compete in the annual death-match known as the Hunger Games.

Katniss was literally starving when she volunteered to take Prim’s place in the games alongside her fellow tribute Peeta Mellark. During the series, Katniss matured from a reluctant hero to one accepting of her role as the symbolic Mockingjay, the advocate for justice throughout Panem’s districts.

At the heart of the narrative, Katniss’s “Daddy Issues” fed her spiritual, physical and emotional hunger, and fostered her evolution into the champion of the revolution. Her father and Panem President Coriolanus Snow were the two men who served as father figures in her life. They represented two sides of the paternal coin — good and evil — traits that Katniss required to survive the trilogy.

FATHER ARCHETYPES: THE TEACHER, THE TYRANT

At the age of 11, Katniss lost her beloved father in a mining accident. She missed her father’s ability to find joy in the small things — teaching her to hunt and understand the ways of the forest and its creatures, and to live off the land. His death forced her to become the sole support of the family and the keeper of her unstable mother. Katniss’s attachment to his worn leather jacket symbolized the void he’d left in her life. Through his teachings, her father provided her with the archery skills and ingenuity necessary to survive the Hunger Games.

However, Katniss’s greatest challenge was her complicated relationship with Coriolanus Snow. In the series, readers were told little about Snow, except that he was a cruel, self-centered and manipulative dictator. He poisoned allies whom he deemed future foes and ingested the poison to prove his innocence of the crime. He wore a genetically engineered rose to mask the scent of blood on his breath from the permanent sores in his mouth.

There was no traditional fatherly love between the two; however, every action taken by Snow contributed to Katniss’ strength and willingness to acknowledge her power as the Mockingjay and to overthrow the Capitol. Snow’s threats to Katniss’s family, his manipulation of her into portraying Peeta’s star-crossed lover, his lies about the uprisings and his repeated orchestrations of Katniss’s and Peeta’s deaths only fueled Katniss’s determination to prove him wrong and see him dead.

In Mockingjay, Katniss is given the opportunity to kill Snow, an encounter that soon proves that Katniss and Snow were neither friends nor enemies. Their relationship was much more intimate. While Snow’s Hunger Games may have threatened her life, Snow would never have murdered Katniss himself. He’d let the games play out to his advantage. In the end, Katniss “repays” Snow in a surprising — and fitting — turn of the plot.

THE ORIGINS OF A DICTATOR

In The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, readers are introduced to the charming Coriolanus Snow sixty-four years before Katniss enters his life. It is the tenth Hunger Games, ten years after the Treaty of Treason has quashed the rebellion in the districts. Snow is a senior at the prestigious Academy in the Capitol and is a mentor for the games. His once well-connected family has fallen on hard times and Snow seeks to redeem himself with a winning tribute. As Snow discovers, certain situations in life are beyond his control.

In The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes readers will finally come to understand Snow’s unquenchable thirst for conquering Panem, and the origins of his final confrontation with Katniss Everdeen.


Read Jodé’s full review of The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes here.


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In 1991, Suzanne Collins began her professional career writing for children’s television.

Thinking one day about Alice in Wonderland, she was struck by how pastoral the setting must seem to kids who, like her own, lived in urban surroundings. In New York City, you’re much more likely to fall down a manhole than a rabbit hole and, if you do, you’re not going to find a tea party. Well, that’s the story of Gregor the Overlander, the first book in her five-part fantasy/war series, The Underland Chronicles, which became a New York Times bestseller.

Her next series, The Hunger Games Trilogy, is an international bestseller. The Hunger Games has spent over six years to date on The New York Times bestseller list since publication in September 2008, and has also appeared consistently on USA Today and Publishers Weekly bestseller lists. It has been sold into 56 territories in 51 languages. In 2010 Collins was named on the TIME 100 list as well as the Entertainment Weekly Entertainers of the Year list.

Her books have sold over 100 million copies worldwide.