Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Tremain's Book Corner: "The Chimes" by Anna Smaill

The Chimes
Place Hold
Author: Anna Smaill
Reviewed By: Tremain Jackson, South Branch Manager
Personal Rating: 3.75 Stars

Book Summary: The Chimes is set in a reimagined London, in a world where people cannot form new memories, and the written word has been forbidden and destroyed.  In the absence of both memory and writing is music.

In a world where the past is a mystery, each new day feels the same as the last, and before is no more, all appears lost.  But Simon Wythern, a young man who arrives in London seeking the truth about what really happened to his parents, discovers he has a gift that could change all of this forever.

Personal Review: I picked up this novel as the cover was visually striking and it was by an author I wasn't familiar with (later to discover this is a debut novel).  After reading the synopsis, it made me think of Lois Lowry's "The Giver,' so I wanted to give it a shot to see if it kept my interest...and it did.

It's a dystopia of sorts, at the very least just a simple alternate reality), but one written for adults that provided a refreshing and unexpected take on the subgenre.  I say this due to the approach the author took, which I'll get to in a minute.  I will admit, it lagged a little at the beginning, but it was necessary as the author needed to take that time to build the world for the reader.  I can look past that as long as it's done effectively as I'm usually the type of reader that wants the author to just hurry up and bring on the plot.

But in this world, the people are under control and no longer allowed to retain their memories.  At the passing of each day, a group of magistrates wield a Carillon, and when it chimes, your memories are wiped.  People still may have body memory, or physical belongings that might hold some memory for them, but that's about it.  Then you have your protagonist who, unlike the others, can remember and hold the memories of others.  Intriguing right? 

This entire book was extremely well written, lyrical, with it becoming more of a read to explore the meaning of our memories and how they shape us into the people we become.  Do our positive memories help us to become stronger and better versions of ourselves?  Do our negative experiences bind us and keep us from reaching our full potential?  This all leads the reader to start posing more questions on their own, while watching the action in the book unfold.  Such as, could you give up your memory if you could?  Would you give up your pain, sorrow, hate, fear, if you could?  Many might say yes, but doing so also comes at the price of losing the love, joy, and happiness you've experienced too.

It was just a pleasure to read for although it wasn't long, I found myself taking longer to read it.  I was absorbed in the world, the writing, how precise the author was in her descriptions (I mean her explanations towards describing music was well done), and the characters were engaging.  I would highly recommend checking out this book for yourselves and giving it a shot.  It was an amazing debut novel, and if she was able to deliver this her first time out, I can't wait to see what comes next.

Look out for a copy at your library and see if you agree.  It won't be a novel for everyone, but it certainly was a great read for me.

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