While the ending of Suzanne Collins’ tentpole dystopian Hunger Games trilogy left limited room to move the narrator forward, there was still plenty to mine from the tale of rebellion, excess, and survival. When the author confirmed a forthcoming prequel The Ballad Of Songbirds And Snakes last October, we knew little more than the fact that it would take place during the “Dark Days,” which followed the First Rebellion. Now, thanks to an excerpt that was released by Entertainment Weekly, the public has been introduced to the story’s protagonist: Lil’ President Coriolanus Snow, the young, soon-to-be murderous tyrant who served as Katniss Everdeen’s/functioning society’s greatest threat. But forget about all of that! The newest entry will center Snow as a wide-eyed teen who was enchanting and quite possibly a hero. Will the buying public ever tire of narratives that attempt to humanize total goddamn monsters? If you ignore the deeply horrified groans of fans who already despise everything about this, then no, we guess not.
As EW summarizes, young Snow is “a teenager born to privilege but searching for something more, a far cry from the man we know he will become. Here, he’s friendly. He’s charming. And, for now anyway, he’s a hero.” The sample shows readers a young student who reluctantly becomes a mentor to a District 12 tribute, that poor guy. It’s a far cry from what he will become, and largely paints the picture of an engaging hopeful whose “only real currency was his charm.”
While we are sure there are some who may me super interested in a redemptive arc for a fascist leader or, at best, possess some curiosity as to how figures like Snow come to be, the choice to center this character when the trilogy was loaded with layered, genuinely fascinating people rings especially egregious. Cinna, for instance, is an influential ally who possesses both privilege and access and literally uses the Capitol’s own aesthetic to protest Snow and the games. The path from general safety to risking life and limb with a single dress has to be way more enthralling than this. We’ll know for sure when the book drops May 19.