Music is a highly regulated device in the distant future of the Web. The Corp uses it as an opiate for the masses to keep the public under control.
In a world where music is a drug, playing music is illegal. But it’s also the only thing that keeps Anthem sane as he struggles to navigate the Corp’s authoritarian regime while supporting his family and caring for his dying father and his younger twin brother and sister.
Eventually, music kills everyone. Overdoses are common. Certain tracks can relieve pain or destroy your eardrums. But usually death from drugged music is a waiting game–a wasting illness. It isn’t supposed to be sudden or unexpected.
Until it is.
Everything is changing. As Anthem learns more about the Web and the Corp he’ll have to decide what he stands for and who he wants to be in Coda (2013) by Emma Trevayne.
Coda is Trevayne’s first novel. It will be followed in 2014 by a sequel/companion called Chorus.
Trevayne has created a compelling and fascinating world in Coda. She also asks hard questions about revolution and the price of freedom making some parts of Coda especially heavy.
With so many details and terms to build this new world, the beginning of the novel can be confusing as readers have a lot of details to parse and absorb. While Anthem is a great narrator and a strong character, his treatment of his friend Haven (the girl he loves) during the story was incredibly frustrating. As Anthem becomes embroiled in a plot to bring down the Corp, he inexplicably shuts Haven out in order to protect her. Aside from being completely counterintuitive given Haven’s personality, it was deeply problematic that the only well-developed female character in the novel* needed to be shielded for most of the story.
More frustrating is that despite Haven’s complete loyalty, Anthem soon doubts and distrusts her. This trend comes up a lot in books since it’s an effective plot device and a good way to keep things moving. At the same time–when so often in real life trust is a tangible, immovable thing–it’s incredibly annoying to meet a character that is so easily swayed by circumstance.
Eventually all of the frustrating things do resolve themselves to make Coda a decent if not completely satisfying read. (Trevayne’s ending is very well-handled and very realistic but not always very uplifting. You have been warned.) Music lovers and musicians will definitely enjoy this clever premise. Similarly, readers looking for a fresh dystopia to get lost in or a thoughtful meditation on revolution and rebellion will find a lot to enjoy here.
*To be fair Anthem has a sister but she is a child with a marginal role and we learn very little about her or the other female characters in Coda. This might change in the sequel, Chorus, since Anthem’s little sister is the protagonist.
Possible Pairings: Little Brother by Cory Doctorow, A Confusion of Princes by Garth Nix, The Archived by Victoria Schwab, Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
You can also read my exclusive interview with Emma Trevayne starting Monday.
*This book was acquired for review from the publisher*