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Publisher's Summary

It is the morning of the reaping that will kick off the 10th annual Hunger Games. In the Capitol, 18-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 out charm, 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. 

©2020 Suzanne Collins (P)2020 Scholastic Inc.

What listeners say about The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

Average Customer Ratings
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Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

A glimpse into the mind of a Slytherin...

A+ narration (except for the singing parts).
The story was really interesting in the beginning, but in the end, I realised I had more questions now than before...

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great but would like to know more

loved the book but it would have been better if Suzene would have revealed about the world outside Panam. Narration was great but you could feel the narrators voice changing after breaks.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Dr.
  • 19-05-20

All about the narrator

I listen to audiobooks. A lot. So, I know something about narrators. A good narrator fades into the background as the characters rise through their voice, creating a seamless performance. Santino Fontana is not a good narrator. A good reader, but not a narrator. The book is read in a monotone with zero differentiation between the characters. There are several points where the characters are singing and this is not even attempted. The disconnect between the text saying that the character is singing and unemotional reading of the text is jarring. There is no good reason for a narrator this poor to be reading this book. I mean, it's the Hunger Games. They had their pick of vocal talent that they selected this guy? Now, the narrator is not going to keep me from this book. I'll probably enjoy it, too. But I will not have the immersive experience that a truly talented narrator brings to the story. It's unnecessary and a real shame.

768 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Rj
  • 19-05-20

The narration is the worst I’ve heard

This is the dullest , monotonous reading I’ve heard for a high anticipated book. Why did they choose such a horrible , Boeing reader !!

I will finish the story, but the narration will limit the number of listens.

Hopefully they re-record with better talent.

364 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Edgars Dumins
  • 19-05-20

Bad part

Good story and interesting premise BUT the reader is not interested,he sounds bored.
I would have prefered Tatiana (original book reader) to Fontana.

260 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • amybw
  • 19-05-20

struggling to get through chapter 1

Like others have said, this reader is awful.
He sounds like he is reading a mundane "same stuff, different day" news story.
Not much inflection. Pauses in the wrong places.
Almost as if he is reading a list.
No change of tone when changing to a flash back.
Character voices are barely changed.
When excitement happens at the reaping it brings about a yawn. :(

173 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Robert
  • 19-05-20

Narrator is perfectly fine

Ok, I’ll be totally honest, this is JUST a review of the narrator. I am only a few minutes into the book but I can’t figure out why people are so up in arms. He’s fine. Sure, it’s been a VERY long time since I listened to the original books but compared to the hundreds of narrators I’ve listened to since 2005, this guy is fine. IMHO narrators tend to fall into two categories; those who do a lot of voices and bring a lot of acting to the performance and those who more or less read to you. This is a reader for sure but even in the first few minutes he’s already done a different voice for one character. I think most people will be fine with this narration once more people have listened.

164 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • JS
  • 19-05-20

Great Narrator, Engrossing Story

I'm breaking my rule of always finishing a work before writing a review because I can't believe the reviews saying that Santino Fontana doesn't provide a good performance here. Fontana gives a measured narration that fits a third-person limited perspective. Since there is no "narrator" character in this work, (unlike the originals, where the narrator is Katniss), it wouldn't make sense for Fontana to go over the top with emotion during the narration. In fact, I would argue that it would be distracting for him to do so. He still provides proper inflection during narration and dialogue.

UPDATE: I've finished the book and am really impressed with this story. It's darker and bleaker than the original trilogy, but it's still incredibly compelling. The narrative goes to a few unexpected places and the way Suzanne Collins fleshes out Snow, adding real dimension without trying to redeem him from irredeemable actions, is an incredible feat.

118 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Sam
  • 19-05-20

I like the narrator

I’m a big fan of Santino Fontana so I’m probably biased but I enjoy his narration. He does different voices for different characters. And he might be dry at times but I think it fits the character (or at least how far I’ve gotten). I honestly wasn’t going to bother listening to this until I saw he was the narrator. As for the story itself it’s such a weird choice for a prequel. Never while reading the Hunger Games trilogy was I like “oh Snow is so interesting I must know more about him”

98 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Lynette Garet
  • 19-05-20

Narration not good- turn up speed.

While the story is, as expected, good, the narrator is pretty disappointing. Up the speed to 1.1- it helps.

72 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Kallensmama
  • 19-05-20

poor narrator so far

Just started, but so disappointed in the narration so far! ugh I was so invested in the previous narrator that it's a difficult adjustment. We'll see how it goes..

55 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • FanFiAddict
  • 20-05-20

An "OK" Prequel

Rating: 5.0/10

As you can probably tell, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes was a much anticipated prequel novel of mine as I loved The Hunger Games novels. Obviously having listened to it in less than a full day, you’d think I’d be over the moon about it. It has to be such a joy entering Panem once again after such a long period away.

Well… I was really underwhelmed and I’m sort of gutted by it.

What I was expecting to be a deep-dive character study into Snow and how he became the most hated man in YA fiction for several years came to fruition, for the most part. Though the book picks up at the ripe age of 18, and no flashbacks of his earlier years are really mentioned, it is easy to to figure out that Snow has always been this vile, self-centered individual who only does things to benefit himself and no-one else. There are glimpses of humanity in those eyes, but they are blurry and overshadowed by blatant narcissism.

Snow is mentoring tribute Lucy Gray of District 12 in the 10th annual Hunger Games, and her character stands out almost immediately. Snarky and oft-times bull-headed, she jumps off the page early on and becomes a bright spot on the gritty, blood-stained games. Unfortunately, she is overshadowed by Snow’s infatuation and search for control/possession of her that her character tends to take a backseat.

Those looking for another “Hunger Games” are going to be, IMO, a little disappointed. This isn’t that type of novel. It is a character study that happens to have a competition going on in its midst. The game isn’t as “put together” as the original trilogies were; it is almost like the game is being beta tested to see how it can be improved. Tributes can easily hide from one another (and the cameras), the battleground is still stained with blood from past competitions, gifts from “fans” aren’t as readily available, but let me tell you, the gruesomeness of children killing one another hasn’t gone away. Collins also throws in the good ole references to keep fans of the original trilogy happy.

I also have to say that Santino Fontana did a fantastic job with what he was given. I’ve seen so many scathing reviews at his performance, but the guy is a phenomenal talent. Funny enough, I listened to his narration of the “You” novels by Caroline Kepnes earlier this year and this novel felt like a YA version of that series at points. Curious if he was chosen because of that… did I stumble upon something?

Seriously peeps, I am only offering my opinion. Collins can write, no doubt about it, but this one just wasn’t for me. I’m not going to go off the deep end and say it was a cash grab, but I will say that I can imagine there will be several readers feeling the same way I do: maybe this is why Rowling never wrote a prequel about Voldemort.

28 people found this helpful

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • DizzyKitten
  • 20-05-20

Just speed it up! - Narrator is fine

I’ve seen reviews on audible UK and US which say how terrible the narrator is. Honestly, I think audible have slowed it down because on 1x speed it is very slow and monotonous, and does not sound natural. I am listening at 1.4x speed and it sounds SO much better! He’s not monotonous at all and at this speed, it sounds like natural speech. I’d say 1.3/1.4 are the best speeds to listen at to get the most out of the narrator’s expressions and differing voices. Please don’t write this book off because of the narration reviews!! I am thoroughly enjoying it!

Edited to add: I’ve just finished it and had to come back and add to my review that I really enjoyed this book. It gives us Snow’s history perfectly and shows us exactly why he hates Katniss so much. Brilliantly done. One minute, you’re rooting for Snow, the next you want him to fail. Loved it!

30 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • M. Radford
  • 23-05-20

Bad Production

Book aside, the production of this audiobook has some serious problems.
For such a highly anticipated book, you’d think they’d have edited probably and someone would have done a listen through for mistakes before publication.
The audio changes pitch and volume constantly. It is very clear where recording was stopped for one day and picked up the next. I like the narrator, but for an established stage actor, you’d think he would check is vocals.
At one point the book starts repeating itself. Half a page is read and the repeated, this happens a few times.
Really disappointed in the production.
If they re-record or even just clean up the version they have, i think it will do the book more justice.
At the moment you lose the story to the bad audio. Both author and narrator deserve better.
Please fix it!

23 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Sherry
  • 19-05-20

Amazon / Audible team please change the narrator!!

I cannot listen to this the way it is. Please please can you change the narrator. The whole thing is ruined, I can't get past first chapter. Thank you - I will wait....

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Ciara Harding
  • 25-05-20

NARRATOR

I found it hard to listen to the narrator doing female voices and speaking songs.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Michele
  • 20-05-20

Not really sure

Firstly the guy that reads this is a bit bad at it. For all the singing you’d think they’d find someone a little less annoying to read it all. However I like that he sounds stuck up because it’s sounds very capitol like.
Then we get to the story.
It’s very confusing. A lot of boring parts too. I think the purpose of this was to explain some of the origins a bit better but it would have been better to focus on the rise of snow. I’m a bit annoyed that I want to root for him and see his humanity in this. I thought he was meant to be the bad guy.

There are a lot of good explanations for things and these can interest the reader. Some parts of the story are interesting but it takes a long while to see action and it’s pretty short lived. Back to confusion and a slow pace. Lucy isn’t someone I really care about further than not wanting her to lose the games.

Despite all my complaints so far it’s a good book. I’m into part 2 now and have liked it if not exactly loved it. It’s not as good as the first trilogy but it’s an ok book and I hope the writer takes whatever criticism she may get on board and improves for whatever she plans to do next. However I hope she’s also not bullied into doing a basic cash grab book as some fans seem to want this without thinking of how boring that could really be. Maybe she’ll never do anything with this story again. I’d be sad if that were the case but I hope she still improves for whatever book she does do no matter what.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Anonymous User
  • 19-05-20

Great book but not a fan of the narrator

Not a fan of the narrator of this book. But other than that the story is great

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Anonymous User
  • 25-05-20

Narrator

The main issue with this audio book was the narrator. He was bland and didn’t convey much emotion in my opinion. Also, the songs could have been sung or at least said in a more sing song way instead read as a poem.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Mosco Moon
  • 06-07-20

Good book, wrong voice

Book was really good! I roughly enjoyed getting to read the story from Snows perspective. It was weird to feel empathy for him at points, only to wind up loathing him at the end. If that's what the author intended, bravo, you did a good job!

Only a couple of points stopped me giving the story 5 stars. I really liked the nod of Snow hating the mocking Jay's and how that related to the hunger games... Except what started as a nod became a truck to the face as we were rammed with the reference over and over again. Only after the second hanging did his hate make sense, before that it felt misplaced and forced.

Some sections felt long and drawn out and others really quick. Like the ending flashes by in 30 mins yet there were plenty of scenes that didn't seem to have a whole lot happening that were dragged out.

I loved learning about where the hunger games started, but would have loved it more for the reasoning behind why they choose to give the winners big houses and loads of food when it felt like the capital themselves were barely making it.

Now onto the voice. Sanitino was brilliant at reading, his voice I could listen too for days and I adore the way he puts voices on for characters. But I feel a woman would have been better reading this. There were too many scenes of young girls singing and him awkwardly speaking the lyrics was jarring and pulled me from the story while I cringed. I found myself skipping songs as a result. Someone willing to sing them and do the singing of young girls better probably would have worked for this.

There were points too where it was clear the audio had been rerecorded. I get this was probably done in lockdown, but the sudden downgrade in quality of the audio only pulled me from the story again at points. For these reasons I'm giving it 3 stars.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • S J Hollis
  • 07-06-20

Terrible Narration

They chose the wrong narrator. That droning voice ruined an already bloated story. Speaking the songs in such a robotic voice was awful. "La la la, la la, la, la la la" was the last straw.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Debbie cooper
  • 21-05-20

reader was boring

the reader had very little expression in his voice . It made the story boring to listen to

3 people found this helpful

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Kirsty
  • 23-05-20

Not a train smash, still better than Cursed Child

This book, was okay. I am fresh off a reread of the original trilogy, so I caught all the references to the world and lamb stew and Tigress and the Lake.
My main gripe with the audiobook is the songs, why aren't they performed as songs?? Would have made them so much better!
There were a few too many songs, could have edited a few of those out.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Chris Joe
  • 06-06-20

Not too bad, not that good either

I finished it solely for the reason that I like Hunger Games but ended up feeling it was a complete waste of time because there wasn't any part of the book that makes me feel like it's so good, I absolutely love this one. Without any spoilers, I would just say the book is filled with "Oh, okay, is that it?" moments that never evolved into something that make one's heart sings.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Jasmine
  • 26-05-20

My heart is sore!

Absolute killer! In the best way. This book was so epic I want to curse before every second word. The Narrator is amazing! 5 stars all around, what an awesome experience! Had me rooting for Snow, annoyed, understanding and hating him. Thank you! I hope there will be more.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Anonymous User
  • 20-05-20

Narrator was a big disappointment.

probably a lovely person in real life but horrible choice for a long anticipated book in my opinion.
however the story itself was fine perhaps a little dull but still a good addition to the series.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Jade Howard
  • 22-05-20

Wow! Struggled to pause this Audio book

Loved it, met my expectations. Hopefully there will be a second book. i would highly recommend this book to Hunger Games fans. Narrator was fine the voice he put on for Lucy was a bit of putting bit done well.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Colzz
  • 04-06-20

Bored

I had high hopes. I love the 3 Hunger Games books. I’ve read them several times so when this was available for pre-order I grabbed it.

It’s so incredibly boring. I’ve had to force myself to push through but it continues to be one of the most bat sh*t boring stories I’ve had the displeasure to hear on Audible.

What’s with all the bloody songs? I can only assume the author is hoping this will one be picked up as depressing broadway musical.

Very disappointed.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Anonymous User
  • 25-05-20

Good listening, but a bit disappointing

Good listening. A lot more brutal than the other books. A lot more raw feellings from the war. Disappointed with some character development, however not surprising overall.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Steph
  • 07-07-20

Not even close to the Hunger Games series

Two-dimensional characters, including the main character Snow, written without nuance. The symbolism littered throughout the book was clumsy and obvious, and the story itself was plodding and indelicate.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Gemma
  • 03-02-21

Not worth listening

Not the same standard as the other hunger games books. Main character is an arsehole who you quickly dislike and this remains throughout the book. A depressing and disheartening listen with lots of annoying songs that get stuck in your head.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Anonymous User
  • 03-02-21

Great book overall

I loved everything about the book. I think it could be enhanced with multiple voice actors.