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Ever since he was a young boy, music has coursed through the veins of eighteen-year-old Anthem—the Corp has certainly seen to that. By encoding music with addictive and mind-altering elements, the Corp holds control over all citizens, particularly conduits like Anthem, whose life energy feeds the main power in the Grid.
Anthem finds hope and comfort in the twin siblings he cares for, even as he watches the life drain slowly and painfully from his father. Escape is found in his underground rock band, where music sounds free, clear, and unencoded deep in an abandoned basement. But when a band member dies suspiciously from a tracking overdose, Anthem knows that his time has suddenly become limited. Revolution all but sings in the air, and Anthem cannot help but answer the call with the chords of choice and free will. But will the girl he loves help or hinder him?
Emma Trevayne's dystopian debut novel is a little punk, a little rock, and plenty page-turning.
There are some people in the world to whom music is as vital as oxygen. To those–me, and certainly Emma Trevayne, the author of Coda–music has the ability to heighten emotions, to heal, to soothe, to enrige, and excite. To us, music is as potent as any drug, and almost as addicting.
To Anthem, and the rest of the citizens in The Web, there is no almost. Music is quite literally a drug, one as addicting as any narcotic. And just as dangerous.
In Anthem’s post-war world on the island of Manhattan, the Corp–the nameless, faceless, despotic government–controls everyone through music specially encoded to be as addicting, and mood-altering as possible. It keeps the citizens passive, keeps them dependent–and ensures they don’t live long enough to have time to do anything but survive.
But Anthem has a secret. He and four others meet secretly once a week to play music together–real music, without any encoding. Music created just for the joy of it, an outlet for their rage, and their sorrow, and the sweet thrill of the illicit, and the free.
But even with the pure high playing gives him, he can’t escape the addiction the Corp has bred in him. He craves the high as much as he despises it. When he’s tracking is the only time he feels free, yet it is when he’s most chained.
With drumbeat shackles and guitar-string ropes, I’m a willing prisoner. It’s miraculous here: light and sound and color and shape coalesce around me before exploding into fireworks of bliss. Rainbow sparks tumble down to sizzle on my clothes.
Songs change. Sweat flows. Energy gathers and releases and gathers again. This one’s my favorite. It sweeps me away, floating, until waves of a thousand keyboards break all at once, crashing into my frantic body, tossing me higher, higher, higher.
It isn’t until a friend is killed right in front of him that Anthem begins to wonder if their music is worth something more than the few moments of freedom it allows him and the band. Could their songs incite a rebellion? Could they be an anthem for the revolution the people so desperately need?
Coda has a cool-factor unlike anything I’ve read. A cyberpunk–part dystopian, part science fiction–thriller set in futuristic Manhattan, with the requisite gadgetry, romance, and the added benefit of a rockstar? Sign me up.
It’s a fast read, intense and sometimes violent, but not without nuance or subtlety. In a world built on absolutes, Anthem is a character drawn in shades of gray. He is conflicted and flawed, never entirely sure of himself, only that he can’t go on as he has. And though the action and intensity may be the melody to Coda, the elements that stick in your head the most when you remember the story, Anthem’s heart is the backbeat to it all. Steady, unwavering, and giving structure to it all.
Coda is a unique read, fast and intense, and fun, with twists you won’t see coming (but will probably want to yell at Ms. Trevayne about. Go ahead. I already have.)
Full disclosure: I am one of Emma Trevayne’s crit partners, and first read Coda when Emma pinged me and said, “hey, I wrote a chapter of this thing. Wanna read it?” And though it’s gone through some changes from gdoc to book, at the heart it’s the same story that thrilled me from the first page almost two years ago.
Visit the Author’s Website to Win a Signed Copy of Coda!
Emma Trevayne is hosting an ARC contest on her blog to benefit the Trevor Project–and you. For every comment on this post, she’ll donate $1 to the Trevor Project, and 10 commenters will win a signed, finished copy of Coda. Donate to charity AND enter to in an ARC–for free? Win/win.