Book Description (as it appears on Amazon)
Fifteen-year-old singer Allie Grant lives crippled by her illness. Though kept in isolation, she’s never alone: A spirit named Song lurks in the silence of her bedroom.
When Song reveals its dark nature on the night of her recital, the show ends in tragedy. Verging on death, Allie’s taken in by an uncle she’s never met. Julian claims to be a Muse with power over music and answers that’ll heal her.
It isn’t long before Allie suspects her uncle has a secret that’ll change her very identity. But with days left to live, she might fade without learning the truth…like the finishing chord of a song.
This modern fairy tale did a great job of tugging at the heart strings. I really identified with the protagonist, Allie, having suffered anxiety and depression most of my life. Allie’s emotional ups and downs engaged me despite a near-melodramatic intensity. Melodrama usually puts me off, but here it worked for me, probably because the young protagonist of this story is a sensitive soul, and her depth of feeling is the primary driver behind the action.
There were enough characters to keep things interesting, but not so many as to become distracting. Each character stood out from the others in mannerism and most dialog, which isn’t always the case with indie authors who haven’t developed a greater range of tones. None of the characters were introduced in their entirety, allowing each to develop and add some mystery to the story.
Between the emotional involvement and use of mysterious characters, Hunt manages to really ratchet up the tension. I was constantly wondering what would happen next, even if I had a pretty good idea what was coming. There weren’t a lot of what I would call “twists,” but there was more than enough emotional investment to keep me curious and looking forward to picking up Dissonance again.
Best of all, Hunt has a very lyrical way with words. There were some truly stunning phrases and passages that just sang to me. I won’t spoil them for you, reader, but there is some real magic in here. It gives me hope for the next generation of writers. I can see the author going places in her literary career.
Despite some truly stunning turns of phrase, this book is still pretty raw. As with almost every independently published book I’ve ever read, Dissonance could have benefitted from a skilled editorial hand. (My own books have received this criticism as well.) There were also a number of passages that were unclear, like not identifying the speaker or too many pronouns to follow. There were places where the pacing was a bit rushed or the changes in direction too sudden. Likewise in editorial terms, there was the occasional continuity error or fact that pulled me out of the action to wonder what was going on. I must say, however, that the proofreading was immaculate. There were very few spelling or grammar errors, as many as I would expect to find in a traditionally published book.
Allie, the protagonist, is also very much a Mary Sue. Though I’ve spoken to the author, I don’t know her well enough to say that Allie is self-insertion, but there are plenty of other indicators. She’s a neglected young woman with special powers (which aren’t very clear yet), some kind of grand destiny, and even a magical animal companion. However, I found this didn’t detract from the story given the genre mashup — young adult, romance, and fairy tale — and I was willing to suspend my literary snobbery with my disbelief in this case. Still, I could see how it would be off-putting for certain readers.
Who Is This Book For?
I think that this book would work best for the young and the young at heart. The story is squeaky clean and plays off adolescent intensity extremely well. I’m pretty far removed from my early teens, but this one really brought me back — for good and bad. It also plays out as a “girl story,” meaning it was based more on emotions and relationships than action. But I’m a heterosexual male human, and I enjoyed it very much.
It’s not high literature, however, so the literary geeks (or snobs) out there aren’t likely to get much pleasure from this book. Its use of well-worn tropes and the Mary Sue element may be especially grating, so readers looking for something novel, they should probably move on.
I am glad that I gave this book a chance, and I’m looking forward to seeing what else this talented young author has to offer in the future. You can follow Mariella Hunt on Twitter (@MariellaHunt) or visit her website at www.MariellaHunt.com.
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