May the prequel-itis be ever in your favor. Scholastic announced on Monday that it will publish Suzanne Collins’ next book, a prequel to the dystopian Hunger Games trilogy on May 19. The still-untitled novel will be set in Panem 64 years before the events of the first book. Lionsgate is wasting no time planning a screen adaptation and has been “communicating with [Collins] during the writing process,” according to a statement by chairman Joe Drake. “We look forward to continuing to work closely with her on the movie.”
What’s refreshing and intriguing about this announcement is that Collins is not writing a simple origin story about the first ever Hunger Games, in which teenagers are forced to fight to the death to entertain the masses and quell insurrection against the government. Instead, the prequel will open on a less-obvious era, 10 years later, with tributes being chosen for the 10th annual Hunger Games.
“With this book, I wanted to explore the state of nature, who we are, and what we perceive is required for our survival,” said Collins in a press release. “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.”
It’s not immediately obvious whether the protagonist will be someone already known to readers or an entirely new character. During the 75th Hunger Games, one of the veteran contestants was 80-year-old Mags Flanagan, but she won the 11th Hunger Games, not the 10th. Until more details are released, we’ll just have to settle for theorizing endlessly about the meaning of the image that accompanied Scholastic’s announcement: a single white feather.