Coda: review

April 17, 2013 2013, 4.5 star books, emma trevayne, lgbtq, male narrator, tonya 38 ★★★★½

Coda: reviewCoda on May 7, 2013
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
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four-half-stars
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.

This review also appears on GoodReads. An advance copy was provided by the publisher.
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Visit the Author’s Website to Win a Signed Copy of Coda!


Emma Trevayne is hosting an ARC contest on her blog to benefit coda emma trevaynethe 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.

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38 Responses to “Coda: review”

  1. Christina

    Oooh, I love the reference to Ayn Rand in the character names. That’s awesome. I’m definitely going to be trying to get my hands on this one now!

  2. ang

    You know how I feel about this book. It rips me apart, puts me back together again, and then makes me melt into uselessness, and then by the end, it’s such an imperfect perfection, I can’t help but collect myself and want to do it all over again.

    Such a perfect assessment of this beautiful THING Em has given us all!

    Sigh. Anthem. SUH-WOON.

  3. LisaFicTalk

    Fantastic review, Tonya!

    I don’t think I can quite put it as nicely as you about how much I loved Coda -I can’t believe it’s been 2 years since I’ve read it!- I’m so excited for Emma and I can’t wait for the everyone else to fall in love with Anthem!

  4. Alexa Y.

    I love the idea of this book! It sounds absolutely fascinating, and the integration of music as an integral part of the story is wonderful. I’m very intrigued – and will certainly be checking it out!

  5. Joyous Reads

    Music with subliminal messages? Sometimes, I think Brandon Flowers is talking to me…but then again, that’s just me. Ha.

    This book sounds so original, Tonya. Thanks for the heads up. :)

    • tonya

      HAHA. I always feel like songs must have been written just for me. There is something similar happening in CODA….

  6. Kim (YA Asylum)

    Music as a drug — now that’s a must read! Before now, I hadn’t heard about Coda. I cannot wait for the book to be released to read it. The twists sound so intriguing. Great review!

    • tonya

      Right? Such a great idea! I’m so glad I’ve gotten you excited about it. Only a couple more weeks now!

  7. Jasprit

    Tonya Coda sounds like such a refreshing change from the dystopians I’ve seen out there, I love how music plays such an integral part to this story, and these twists you’ve mentioned definitely have me intrigued! Lovely review Tonya! :)

    • tonya

      Thanks, Jasprit! It felt like such a breath of fresh air after so many similar dystopians. It definitely has a very unique feel to it. I hope you like it!

  8. Keertana

    Woah, I haven’t even heard of this one but it sounds fantastic! I love music and futuristic novels, so I’ll have to add this to my TBR at once. Thanks for putting it on my radar, Tonya! :)

    • tonya

      I’m glad I could introduce you! I hope you pick it up when it’s out in a few weeks, and love it as much as I did. It sounds right up your alley. :)

    • tonya

      Yes, it’s a very different kind of book. A nice detour from the usual YA. Much grittier and darker.

  9. Sam

    Wow! This sounds wonderful. I haven’t heard much about it, but I definitely want to give it a try now. The music aspect is calling me. :) Lovely review, Tonya.

    • tonya

      Thanks, Sam! I hope you do pick it up when it’s out in a couple weeks. It’s a very different kind of YA, but such a refreshing, thrilling read.

  10. Mary @ BookSwarm

    Oh, DANG! This sounds AWESOME! I love the whole cyberpunk feel and, even without encoding, music is most definitely a drug for me. The Corp sounds crazy-bad.

    • tonya

      Me too! I’m definitely addicted. And I know the catalyst for Emma writing this was her love of music, so reading CODA should feel very familiar. :)

  11. Risbee

    I’ve been looking forward to reading this book since I first heard about it and your review just makes me **bounce** even more. Can’t wait to get my hands on it!

    • tonya

      Just a couple of weeks until we can bounce together! I’m so excited for everyone to get a chance to read.

  12. Wendy Darling

    This book wasn’t high on my radar, but your review has definitely convinced me to pick this up, Tonya! The way you describe it reminds me of a book I just finished, PROXY by Alex London. I really enjoyed the feel of that book and am looking forward to this one.

    • tonya

      I hope you love it as much as I did! I’m definitely adding PROXY to my list as well. I love this gritty, futuristic setting.

  13. readingdate

    I haven’t heard too much about Coda yet, but you sold me with music and Manhattan. I may have to break my dystopian dry spell to try this one.

    • tonya

      I hope you do! While it’s technically cyberpunk, it felt like a really fresh take on the dystopian genre that’s been done to death lately.

  14. erin

    thanks for the great review! This is the first I’ve come across this book and I’m definitely going to be adding it to my wantlist :)

    • tonya

      Yay! I’m so glad I could introduce you to it. I hope you love it when you get a chance to read.

    • tonya

      Isn’t that great? Coda’s main character is bisexual, and Emma wrote him with such a deft, understated hand.

    • tonya

      Coda has such an original feel to it. Cyberpunk was new to me, but I love science fiction and dystopian, so it was fun to see the two combined.

    • tonya

      I’d never read cyberpunk until CODA, but I love dystopian so it was a short leap for me. Such an interesting genre!

  15. sinmotion

    This was an awesome review, Tonya! I look forward to reading CODA, as it’s been talked about all over our community, but this just all really sounds like a very exciting and thrilling read. Can’t wait to feast my eyes on those words!

    -S