August 2020: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes: A Hunger Games novel by Suzanne Collins

In 2008, author Suzanne Collins gave the world a concept almost too horrific to believe—yet we couldn’t look away. In her fictional world of Panem, the government punished the 12 districts of the country by forcing them to participate in something called the Hunger Games. The annual fight-to-the-death match served as a reminder that anyone who fought against the Capitol would lose. Every time.

To drive home that point, the Capitol required that each district send two representatives—two tributes—to represent it. The tributes would be children, and all 24 children would be thrown into an arena together with weapons. The only way they came out was in body bags or as the sole victor.

As gruesome as the concept was, Collins redeemed the Games with her heroine, Katniss Everdeen. Told in first person, the Hunger Games trilogy allowed us to follow Katniss as she went from reluctant volunteer tribute (something no one had ever done before) to the symbol of a revolution that eventually destroyed the very government punishing her and all the other citizens.

The books stayed on the NY Times bestseller list for more than five years. They led to four movies starring Jennifer Lawrence and several other stars. The books continue to win readers year after year.

We thought the world of Panem was done. After all, Katniss had won the revolution, right? She’d paid a terrible price for it, but she helped free the people. They no longer lived under the tyranny of the Capitol.

Then came the announcement: Suzanne Collins was writing another book set in Panem. Another Hunger Games novel. This one, though, would focus on Coriolanus Snow, president of Panem during Katniss’s time in the arena.

This month I decided to focus on The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. You can find my thoughts on it as a: