Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls in Districts 1 through 12 within the ages of 12 to 18 and those further beyond the districts and age-range...
In case you missed the news, The Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins will officially be releasing a prequel novel set seventy-five years before the first games—and yes, we’re hungry for more!
The prequel, set for May 2020 release, will take place just after the Dark Days after the First Rebellion, the civil war between the districts and the Capitol. If you know your fictional history better than whatever you just scribbled down on your final, you’ll know that this rebellion ground to a halt when District 13 abandoned the others to secure its own freedom. With 13’s resources out of the picture, the Capitol crushed the remaining districts and plunged the fractured nation into the aforementioned Dark Days, a ten-year reconstruction period during which the Treaty of Treason—the legal stipulation for the games themselves—was enacted.
While we already know some of what happened, let’s look back on this excerpt from The Hunger Games and remember that global warming was probably what caused everything to go to hell in the first place:
He tells of the history of Panem, the country that rose up out of the ashes that was once called North America. He lists the disasters, the droughts, the storms, the fires, the encroaching seas that swallowed up so much of the land, the brutal war for what little sustenance remained. The result was Panem, a shining Capitol ringed by thirteen districts, which brought peace and prosperity to its citizens. Then came the Dark Days, the uprising of the districts against the Capitol. Twelve were defeated, the thirteenth obliterated. The Treaty of Treason gaves us the new laws to guarantee peace and, as our yearly reminder that the Dark Days must never be repeated, it gave us the Hunger Games.
The encroaching sea that swallowed up so much of the land? The brutal war for what little sustenance remained? Sounds like global warming to me. But I digress—the exact cause of the First Rebellion isn’t the only thing we’re dying (is this in poor taste?) to know. Whenever fans get a spinoff or prequel, the very first thing we want to know is if any of our friends will be there. As readers, we bond with our favorite characters and want to feel some echo of their life in these new stories. We want to know that they’re as important to the world of the story as they are to us personally.
Of course, this is rarely possible when time-skips are involved. Fans of Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunters universe have historically been lucky on this front; fan-favorite quick-witted, bisexual warlock Magnus Bane is immortal and can therefore appear in any book, giving readers a sense of familiarity within the new story. Fortunately, we can guess at which characters might appear in the prequel based on the timeline. According to Time, the prequel will begin at the reaping of the 10th Hunger Games, over sixty years before we meet Katniss Everdeen. So, who was alive back then?
Let’s take a look at who we might encounter:
President Snow would be eleven at the time of the prequel, so it’s possible that we could meet the ruthless despot when he’s only a child. Admittedly, it would be interesting to see how coming of age in this time period could influence his worldview and the man he becomes. Of course, Snow’s age comes with certain implications: he would have been born barely a year before the first Hunger Games and knows no other world. This could offer readers an interesting juxtaposition between himself and teenage characters, who may remember life before the Games. We would also get to see what life is like for a child of the Capitol: born into wealth, Snow likely never experienced the mortal fear that consumed children of the same age. (Compare his life with Prim’s, a life in which a pre-teen could be reaped for the Games.)
The oldest featured character in Collins’ trilogy, Mags is the District 4 female tribute who befriends Katniss in Catching Fire. You might remember her most iconic (yet blatantly upsetting) scene: Katniss is trying to carry Mags to safety as the poison fog encroaches in Plutarch Heavensbee’s clock arena when Mags lets go and is quickly engulfed. Since she sacrificed herself so that Katniss could outrun the fog, fans resonated with her extraordinary gesture. If you’ll recall, self-sacrifice is in her nature: she was only in the games because she volunteered to save Annie Cresta, Finnick Odair’s troubled girlfriend.
At eighty years old, Mags is the right age to appear in the prequel as a teenager. Given that she won the 11th Hunger Games, just one year after the timeline of the upcoming novel, it’s highly likely she’ll at least make an appearance. Unlike with Snow, the narrative could present Mag’s unique perspective as someone born before the Hunger Games ensured the districts’ submission. District 4 is traditionally a Career district: children train for the Games, following the local cultural convention that to fight and win is a tremendous honor. While we don’t know whether or not Mags herself was a Career, it would be interesting to watch a character’s bloodlust and desire for glory transform into the deep empathy she obviously possesses at eighty.
If we’re lucky enough to see both Mags and Coriolanus Snow, the juxtaposition of District 4 and the Capitol could make for fascinating political commentary. Among the twelve remaining districts, District 4’s fishing industry has made it one of the wealthiest. The residents of 4 are a complex bunch: affluent enough to produce Career tributes and strong-willed enough to side with the Second Rebellion. It would be fascinating to see the differences between a wealthy district (the Capitol) whose citizens were guaranteed physical safety and a wealthy district whose prosperity could not save it.
What do you think? Will we see anyone we recognize? Or will we, much like whoever our characters may be, remain in the dark?
Featured Image Via Lights, Camera, Pod Twitter.