The Hunger Games Prequel novel from Suzanne Collins, “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” was officially released at midnight Monday night.  Due to in-store promotions and events being cancelled due to the coronavirus, this midnight release feels more like a launch; with social media posts, video trailers, quizzes and challenges building up to the day, a social media countdown the night of, and a website update at the stroke of midnight Easter Time, that included both the first chapter of the audiobook read by Santino Fontana, along with a video of Collins herself, reading chapter 3 from the book.  Both are available at the novel’s website: songbirdsandsnakes.com

Published a decade after the trilogy finale Mockingjay, the new book takes place 64 years before the events of the first book, at the 10th Hunger Games, in the wake of Panem’s failed rebellion.  The website describes the novel as:

It is the morning of the reaping that will kick off the tenth annual Hunger Games. In the Capitol, eighteen-year-old Coriolanus Snow is preparing for his one shot at glory as a mentor in the Games. The once-mighty house of Snow has fallen on hard times, its fate hanging on the slender chance that Coriolanus will be able to outcharm, outwit, and outmaneuver his fellow students to mentor the winning tribute.

The odds are against him. He’s been given the humiliating assignment of mentoring the female tribute from District 12, the lowest of the low. Their fates are now completely intertwined — every choice Coriolanus makes could lead to favor or failure, triumph or ruin. Inside the arena, it will be a fight to the death. Outside the arena, Coriolanus starts to feel for his doomed tribute . . . and must weigh his need to follow the rules against his desire to survive no matter what it takes.