If you’re a fan of The Hunger Games and have been hoping for a new book, well the odds are finally in your favour. Earlier this week, it was announced that series author Suzanne Collins has begun work on a prequel to her phenomenally successful series, which spawned a multi-billion dollar film franchise and catapulted Jennifer Lawrence to international fame. The book is expected to be released in May 2020, a full decade after the original trilogy drew to a close.
The release of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 in 2015 served as the second part to an epic conclusion for the film series, which has become the 20th highest grossing film franchise of all time by making a whopping $2.9 billion at the box office. Even before the final movie was released though, there was fervent speculation as too if the series could be continued, and if so how? And now Lionsgate have basically confirmed it is planning to adapt the prequel, saying of Collins’ announcement:
“As the proud home of the ‘Hunger Games’ movies, we can hardly wait for Suzanne’s next book to be published. We’ve been communicating with her during the writing process and we look forward to continuing to work closely with her on the movie.”
The prequel story is to be set 64 years before Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her sister’s place in the Hunger Games, which sets in motion a series of events that leads to all out war for the fate of the fictional country Panem. This new book will reportedly focus on the “Dark Days.” As fans of the books will know, seventy-four years before the events of the series, Panem was rocked by a huge war between the Capitol and the Districts. The Districts were eventually defeated, and The Hunger Games was created as a punishment for their people, and to remind them of the Capitol’s power. The Dark Days refers to the first decade post war, at a time when the country is struggling back to its feet and learning to cope with the horror of the Games.
It would be an interesting premise for the novel, allowing exploration of the war, its aftermath, and how the tributes that are eventually selected cope with the Games given they are a fresh event.
It could also look at the deal that was struck between the Capitol and District 13, that essentially condemned the Districts and saw the people of 13 move underground to live in peace away from the dictatorship. It was mentioned in the original books that District 13 was prepared to wipe out everything to stop the Capitol from winning by directing their nuclear weapons at it. It would be cool to see if the citizens of 13 were all on board with the decision, or did it divide them.
Also, only two characters from the series were known to have lived through the rebellion against the Capitol and the subsequent loss that birthed the Games. Before he was President and before she was a tribute, Coriolanus Snow and Mags were young children growing up in a war. It could be interesting to see how different their lives are on opposite sides of the conflict, and whether anything they experience shapes who they eventually become.
There is definitely enough material there to explore in a new book. But could this prequel possibly be the first in a more expanded universe, similar to what J. K. Rowling has done with the expansion of the Harry Potter universe? Here’s some ideas that could be adapted into books, movies, TV shows…
The 1st Quarter Quell
Every twenty-five years, a special edition of The Hunger Games was held to mark the anniversary of the Districts defeat during the rebellion. The Quells were planned at the founding of the Games, and prepared for hundreds of years down the line. As we know from Catching Fire, these games have a twist from the usual format, such as former Victors being selected once again to compete in the 75th Games, which was the third Quarter Quell (though it is open to individual interpretation whether that was really the original plan, or hastily concocted by President Snow as a means to kill off Katniss).
One option for an expansion of the series would be to explore the first Quell. In this instance, the people of the Districts had to vote on who they wanted to put forward to represent them in the Games. An exploration of how they variously go about this would be fascinating and provide plenty of tension and drama.
More story elements could be brought into play, as by this time, Snow would be a young man in his early twenties and preparing to take power as President. While Mags would be in her thirties, serving as a mentor to the current District 4 tributes, having won her Games years previously.
The 2nd Quarter Quell
This could lead on from the above, and follow the back story of Haymitch Abernathy, the drunken victor who won the second Quarter Quell, and eventually went on to mentor Katniss and Peeta during the 74th Games. If written/made into a live action property, this one would have the potential to be epic, given that the rules of the second Quell doubled the number of competing tributes from 24 to 48.
Mid way through the second book (but omitted from the film), in an attempt to prepare for the 3rd Quarter Quell, Katniss and Peeta watch a selection of past Hunger Games. This includes the 50th Games, which Haymitch won. Katniss describes the arena as “the most breathtaking place imaginable”, so it would be a chance to create an arena that would be a feast for the senses.
And of course, the story would pack a huge emotional punch, as it could flesh out the character of Maysilee Donner, Haymitch’s fellow District 12 tribute. During the games, Maysilee saves Haymitch’s life and they form an alliance that lasts for days. But an argument leads to them splitting up, only for Haymitch to be left devastated later when he discovers her bleeding to death after being attacked by muttations.
We could also get an insight to the aftermath of the Games, as two weeks following his victory, Haymitch’s mother, brother and girlfriend are all murdered by the Capitol after he outsmarted the Gamemakers by using the force field of the arena to his advantage, which leads to his alcoholism.
An Anthology Series
Another option to consider could be the development of an anthology film or TV series, similar to the Star Wars franchise. One particular block of Hunger Games and victors would lend itself perfectly for this as they were won by characters we are already familiar with. The 62nd, 63rd, 64th and 65th Games were won by Enobaria, Gloss, Cashmere and Finnick Odair respectively.
The series could explore these four years, giving insight into their lives before, during and after the Games. It could also be expanded upon by a slight time jump to include the victories of Annie Cresta and Johanna Mason in the 70th and 71st Games. It would be interesting to see how they all interact with one another as mentors to new tributes, and also see the birth of the relationship between Finnick and Annie.
And there is also the option to explore the seedy way in which some of the victors are forced into prostitution to cater to the political elite of the Capitol. It was mentioned in both the books and the films that Cashmere and Finnick were well-known to have been used in this way, while Johanna refused, leading to the death of her loved ones as revenge.
While the above ideas would essentially be prequels to the main series, the next idea would be a direct follow-up to the events of the third book, Mockingjay. As fans will know, after the end of the war that saw the Districts overcome the Capitol, there were seven victors left alive. These were Katniss, Peeta, Haymitch, Johanna, Beetee, Annie and Enobaria.
Alma Coin, the leader of District 13 (and at the time the new President of Panem) approached these seven and offered them the chance to vote on whether one final Hunger Games should be held using the children of prominent Capitol citizens. Katniss, distraught at the death of her sister Prim votes yes, and is followed by Haymitch, Johanna and Enobaria. Peeta, Beetee, and Annie vote against the proposal.
Shortly after this, Katniss assassinates President Coin so the Games never takes place. But if Collins really wanted to, she could simply move around that by saying that the proposed Games was voted on and passed and so will still go ahead. It would make for a drama filled plot, what with the tables being turned on the Capitol, and also to witness how the dynamic between the remaining victors changes based on how they voted.
A Netflix Series
The final option to consider when continuing the series would be to forgo the movie format altogether, in favour of TV. Netflix would be perfect for this. They wouldn’t be constricted by the guidelines set out for normal television broadcasts, and could create something really interesting.
Netflix series’ tends to stick to around 12 episodes which would be perfect in this case for including the selection of the tributes, the Games, the interactions between family members and mentors watching the events unfold, and the aftermath when a victor emerges, without anything feeling too drawn out.
Plus, the potential to binge watch means the tension of the Games and audience investment in them wouldn’t drop off, unlike in traditional TV shows where there would be a weekly break between episodes.
So, what do you think? Are you looking forward to a new Hunger Games story? Let me know in the comments!