Book Review: Melophobia by James Morris

Melophobia is one of the most fascinating alternative histories I’ve read, spawned by the idea of the government declaring war on “moral decay.” And at its center are the arts — music, paintings, television or movies … anything that incites rebellion or causes you to feel something more than apathy.

And feel, you will.

melophobia.jpgMorris explores this world through the eyes of a young patrol officer. The daughter of one of the government’s high ranking officials, she works undercover, exposing the ranks of those who create or listen to music. But her next task will force her deeper than she’s ever been in order to bring to justice The Source, a creator of music so talented that he has begun to unite the different genres of music-lovers under one roof.

Part Orwellian fiction, part coming of age, this is a novel that exceeds its premise. Morris takes his characters down impossible paths, with choices I never saw coming. And while you think you know where things will end up, there are plenty of surprises still in store. I can freely admit this is the first I’ve had a novel keep me up until 2 am in a long time, flipping pages, needing to know how it ends.

What stays with you the most, however, beyond the stunning characters, is the tribute this novel is to the power of music. This novel is a celebration of music. It’s influence — for good or bad, light or dark. It’s power to transform. To creates memories. To bury pain. Or to convey one’s thoughts better than words might ever accomplish. As a musician, this novel especially spoke to me.

Hopefully Morris will revisit this world with a follow-up; there’s definitely an opening for more material and a sequel could breed enormous possibilities. But even if this ends up being a stand-alone, like some of the greatest songs every created, it will be one I always remember.

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