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The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

A Hunger Games Novel
Narrated by: Santino Fontana
Series: Hunger Games
Length: 16 hrs and 16 mins
4.4 out of 5 stars (1,159 ratings)

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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

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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!

22 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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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!

19 people found this helpful

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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

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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....

5 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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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

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NARRATOR

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

4 people found this helpful

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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.

4 people found this helpful

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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

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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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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

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.

2 people found this helpful

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  • 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.

670 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • 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.

329 people found this helpful

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  • 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.

236 people found this helpful

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  • 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. :(

157 people found this helpful

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  • 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.

145 people found this helpful

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  • Victor @ theAudiobookBlog dot com
  • 20-05-20

A Powerful Prequel

Suzanne Collins, the award-winning and best-selling author of The Hunger Games Saga, invites the readers and listeners back to this beloved series with the recently released The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. With its action set 64 years before the exhilarating events in The Hunger Games, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is a prequel, an origin story for one of the most hateful characters in this extremely appreciated works of fiction. Coriolanus Snow is a young man down on his luck, his family fortunes are gone and he is chosen to be a Mentor for one of the kids destined to fight to the death in The Hunger Games. Fans of this series will discover how the games were in their inception, how The Capital looked 10 years after the war and most importantly, how this renowned character, hated and despised in the original stories, started his path to power. After his excellent performance for Stephen King's The Institute, actor, singer and narrator Santino Fontana does a great job in bringing to life the events, characters and locations in The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.I enjoyed Santino Fontana's delivery of this work and I am always glad to listen to him. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is a great opportunity for fans of The Hunger Games to step back into this world filled with violence, action, horrors, betrayal, dirty politics, dark secrets and unforgettable characters. Although I am not a Hunger Games fan, I think I'll pick up the series as soon as I'll get some free time as I am ''hungry'' to relive the events set after this prequel. If you liked this review please vote Helpful below and find more of them here and on theAudiobookBlog. I also post honest reviews at the author, narrator or publisher's request, you can get in touch with me for more details. Thank you & stay safe, Victor

139 people found this helpful

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  • 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.

99 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • 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”

89 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • 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.

67 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • 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..

49 people found this helpful