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The Chimes

by Anna Smaill

Kirkus A melodic, immersive dystopian tale set in a London where writing is lost and song has replaced story. It's some time after the cataclysmic Allbreaking, and the powerful Order has set all to rights. Every evening now, their bells peal out a soothing chorus of harmony that overwhelms body and mind. Living in an eternal present, residents of Britain rely on the rituals of "bodymemory" and their private hoards of "objectmemories"a muddy raincoat, a shard of platein order to cling to the slippery knowledge of who they are. In inventive language that perfectly captures the disrupted nature of this world, debut novelist Smaill introduces us to Simon, through whom we experience this richly realized future. Simon runs with a "pact" of fellow teens in the "under"the dark tunnels and tracks leftover from when Britain had electricity. Guided by the pact leader, Lucien, whose musical gifts more than make up for his blindness, they scavenge in "thamesmuck" for nuggets of precious pale "mettle" to sell on the black market. Simon has settled into this life despite the unusual clarity with which he can visualize his past, which once included a family. But to Simon's great disturbance, Lucien starts asking him to share these stories of his past, in violation of all social codes. When Simon does begin to piece his memories together with Lucien's, they discover the horror of how this world of seeming harmony came to be. After the deft and engaging worldbuilding of the first half, the second half of the novel slips into a swift and simple quest narrative, but it's one plaited with an unexpected story of first love. As the novel reaches its crescendo, the poignancy of memory, with all its attendant pain and loss, faces down the dangers of a perfection built on ignorant bliss. Entrancingly poetic and engagingly plotted, this is a story that brims with heart and soul. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Book list Simon is on a mission to find a person in London, and the only information he has is a song. Simon's goal makes more sense when one understands that the England of The Chimes is one controlled by music and memory loss. Every day, the enigmatic elite ruling class known as the Order plays a particular kind of music to wipe society's memory. To remember certain aspects of their past and daily life, citizens rely on their muscle memory and items they carry with them. Those that can't make it from the day-to-day or lose their memory items become zombie-like creatures called the memorylost. Without the ability to retain any sort of history, collective memory, or even written language, the culture is one that revolves around the preservation of the few memories possible and music. Sound seems to envelope the characters throughout the text, which is conveyed by wonderfully lyrical language and the consistent references to everything as beats or rhythm. This imaginative novel from poet Smaill was longlisted for the 2015 Man Booker Prize.--Whitmore, Emily Copyright 2016 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

Library Journal After an apocalyptic event known as the Allbreaking, most survivors are left unable to hold on to long-term memories, instead centering their communication on music, which seems to help them remember. Simon has traveled from his home outside of London to the city after his mother's death, carrying his memory objects in an old canvas sack. While given instructions on whom to talk to in London, Simon has forgotten the details and is left wandering near the Thames. There he meets and falls in with a gang of metal pickers, led by Lucien. Though blind, Lucien hears and sings the melodies that keep his crew safe. He also senses that Simon's recall is special, and if he could only recollect enough, together they could change their world. The novel's purposefully confusing beginning mirrors Simon's bewilderment, and patient readers will be well rewarded as the reality of Simon's world swims into focus and the story suddenly becomes gripping and impossible to put down. VERDICT One of a kind, both in its dystopian landscape and use of gorgeous language throughout (including clever musical terms), this debut takes time to digest but is worth the effort. Fans of the eloquence and imagery of Jeff -VanderMeer's "Southern Reach" trilogy and the spare desolation of Cormac -McCarthy's The Road will adore this original work.-MM Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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