Book Title: Melody 8 – Books 1-3
Author: Ernie Howard
Publication Date: October 7, 2019
Indie Athenaeum Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Melody is a seventeen-year-old girl living in a post-apocalyptic world where music of any kind is completely banned. A township is ruled over by a brutal warlord and his cohorts. All the while, Melody and her mother try to survive their bleak existence. But when the warlord comes to their home, it’s just the beginning of the changes that will forever alter Melody’s world. And everything that she thought she knew will be upended and thrown out the window.
Melody is processing everything she learned about her destiny and what she needs to do to follow through on it. Caught between safety and uncertainty, she decides she must seek out others like her who share similar abilities. Picking up a new friend named Brenton along the way, they seek out someone nicknamed “The Musical Witch of the South”. Will they find her and can she help them?
We get to know Carlton Feast, Melody’s enemy, and how he rules the apocalypse with an iron fist. He’s a brutal man who uses the tools at his disposal to torture his subjects. But he’s also a shrewd man who seems to know much more about Melody, her background and her mission than she does!
Planning the next evolution of his insidious plan to dominate the populace, he needs Melody if he has any hopes of succeeding. But how does he know so much about her and her companions? And further revelations behind the experiments he’s been conducting are critical to seeing the larger storyline that will be told over the entirety of this series.
Melody is, on the surface, just an average teenager, just trying to live day by day. However, she has a mysterious past she never knew about and how she discovers this is just one of many surprises in store for the reader. I felt the immense emotional pain of the multiple traumas she endured. The struggle to manage her anger and sorrow at the revelations that are shared with her is a difficult one.
I also liked how Melody’s friends Brenton, Samantha, Iggy, and Adelaide were fleshed out here. Their interactions with Melody felt like sincere friendship and provided a nice contrast to the dog-eat-dog world they inhabited. Their budding rapport with Melody as well as what they shared about their backgrounds made for beautiful character work and made them more interesting to read about as a result. The appreciation of music by all the characters is especially poignant in a world where songs are completely outlawed.
As readers, we learn more about how this dystopian world came to be and why music is something to be feared as well. Once the shroud of history has been lifted, the full horrors of this universe are breathtaking to behold. The action moves swiftly and one jaw-dropping bombshell after another is revealed. It feels like a boxing match after I’ve been punched multiple times. It’s just that intense and it only increases with each passing chapter.
This is one of the authors many strengths as a writer – he firmly places you in the mind of his protagonist and you don’t just read about Melody’s adventures, you experience them as if you were in her shoes. The visceral feeling of living in this world filled with sadness seeps into your soul, painting a vivid portrait of a peaceful small town gone dreadfully wrong.
The author also paints a perfect picture with my imagination and fully makes this dystopian landscape real. The emotions his writing brings forth are so very evocative and stimulate my senses to the point where I feel like I am in the story itself, witnessing it like I’m living there in the flesh. It gives me the shivers to think about that landscape and the hell that living in it must be like.
Given that this series is told by Melody’s point of view, she discusses her past with the reader like she was narrating a novel about herself. As a result, we get some intriguing glimpses into her future. Her journey to become a hero and how she develops her special abilities get tiny mentions here and propel me to want to know even more about her story and what happens along her path towards her uncertain future.
The series is off to a terrific start with an awesome premise, characters you care about and the potential to tell an epic saga of a world gone wrong. This post-apocalyptic adventure invites you to dive in, feel its despair, harrowing danger and just a bit of hope for the future while rooting for Melody to try to endure and succeed. It’s a clever blend of different storytelling styles, characters and emotion-provoking dilemmas that proves to suspenseful, exciting and mysterious.
This is a collection of books one through three in the Melody 8 series. Eventually, this series will utilize eight novellas to tell Melody’s story. By reading this collection, it will catch the reader up on everything published currently. Given how events have played out so far, I must discover more about this world, Melody’s unique role in it and the destiny that lies in front of her.
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Previous Indie Athenaeum book reviews about stories by Ernie Howard include “Gramps: A Time Travel Short Story“, “Night Portals Boxed Set – Books 1 – 8“, “Melody 8 – Book One: The Day of the Song“, “Melody 8 – Book Two: The Musical Witch of the South” and “Melody 8 – Book Three: A Sound for the Deaf.”