Book Review: Melophobia


ashley | Music is my life; I don’t know what I would do without it. As soon as I read the premise for James Morris’ Melophobia, I wanted to get my hands on it.

Melophobia: fear or hatred of music.

I can’t imagine a more awful ailment, let alone a law. When music is outlawed in this alternate version of our present day, life as we know it turns into a dark and gloomy place. Hearing what we know as Hollywood described without all the glitz and glamour, studios transformed into Police training headquarters, streets that have always been so lively, now a ghost town. There was some really cool – and desolate – imagery in creating a world without the allure of Hollywood and music and creative art. It was kind of a glaring example of what our world would be like if we did eliminate all creative expression like that. Hint: it wouldn’t be that exciting.

Merrin was an interesting character. She seemed pretty straight edge and by the book; her father was an important authority figure, she had a job that she loved that required order and rules. Yet, she seemed to keep craving some kind of spark, some dangerous edge. This is, naturally, a formula for trouble. I liked her though, she seemed to genuinely want what was the better good and even if I didn’t agree with her moral beliefs from the start, I felt a bit of a kinship with her.

Of course, I loved the music elements. Name dropping actual bands (except U2, man I really don’t like U2), weeding in little musical facts and trivia. And of course the descriptions of how music can be moving and how it can make you feel. This was the whole reason I picked this book up. It was well done. If Morris isn’t a diehard music fan, he had me fooled.

Things moved along at a pretty quick clip. I was happy that part of the mysterious reveal wasn’t dragged out to save for the end. If you’re quick to pick up on things, it’s not too hard to put some pieces together, so I think I would have been frustrated if it was supposed to be this lingering mystery for the bulk of the book. It was handled really well and made me really happy, as there was a lot of opportunity for that story arc to grow.

I had one problem with the book’s concept though. As an avid music lover, I found it really hard to believe that we would ever get to a place where music is banned. Oh, I believe people will try, I just don’t see how it can be done, how the entire world can avoid being overtaken by the music scene. With how rampant bootlegs and underground scenes seemed to be, I strongly feel that the authorities would be outnumbered and I don’t care how much you’ve been “re-educated” or brainwashed to hate music, or how high up you are in the government where keeping this in control is your job, music is powerful! That stuff will cut through it all and get you right where it matters! I believe in it!

That said, Morris created a scary alternate universe here and he pulls it all together strongly with convincing arguments against my aforementioned disbeliefs. This is a scary look into the power the government can put upon us and I really, really hope this isn’t a glimpse into our future but just a nightmare playing out in the mind of a writer. But I guess you can easily say I would be part of the problem in a world like this, rebelling against authority and trying to keep that music alive. You can’t stop the beat!


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September 22, 2015