Lets file this one under: I Mean, Sure? On Monday the New York Times reported that Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins is working on a prequel to her massively popular trilogy. The books themselves were best sellers, spawning a four-film series and a general dystopia bug across Hollywood as studios scrambled to replicate the sensation—hello, Divergent. But that doesnt necessarily mean well see a prequel film anytime soon—not least because a lot has changed since the first book debuted in 2008.
The Hunger Games series takes place in a dystopian future-America nation called Panem, in which each year 24 children—two from each district—must compete in a televised, violent survival competition called the Hunger Games. As the Times notes, the books expanded the purview of young adult fiction, moving the genre into more graphic, violent territory than previous hits like Harry Potter or Twilight. So it was only natural that a long list of imitators would soon follow. But the trend has fallen out of vogue; even with Hunger Games alum Amandla Stenberg leading the cast of last years would-be franchise starter The Darkest Minds, for example, that film was still a huge flop.
As the Times mentions, Collins initially planned to “move on to other lands,” as she put it, after the final Hunger Games movie premiered in 2015. And indeed, her most recent book, Year of the Jungle, was far from dystopian fiction; it was instead an autobiographical picture book. But now shell return to Panem in a book set 64 years before we ever met Katniss Everdeen. The novel is set for a May 2020 release, and was announced with a statement from Collins herself: “With this book, I wanted to explore the state of nature, who we are, and what we perceive is required for our survival. The reconstruction period 10 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.”
Although the prequel news does come with the faint odor of a cash grab, one could argue that this does sound like a better idea than a Hunger Games sequel. And the themes of the book—recovering from a period of upheaval and meditating on what is really necessary for survival—could wind up being very relevant, depending on how a certain election works out. Regardless, given how many original Hunger Games books readers have snatched up, it seems safe to bet the book will do just fine. And while Hollywood might have been burned one too many times to consider a film adaptation, it also could very well decide that this time, the odds are again in an adaptations favor.
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