Kirkus Recommended Review - "...captivating and memorable...makes for supremely fun reading...this action-packed ride through a grim but fascinating world should delight fans of The Hunger Games and Divergent and leave many waiting impatiently for the sequel." Legend meets Leviathan in this gritty dystopian fiction by debut author Sophia Elaine Hanson. All citizens within the soaring black walls of Revinia have metal Singers grafted into their skulls at birth. The parasitic machines issue a form of auditory hypnosis called The Music, which keeps their minds malleable and emotions flat. All artistic expression—especially real music—is strictly prohibited. On the edge of the city, nineteen year old Ronja struggles to support her cousins and disabled mother. A chance meeting leads to her kidnapping by an underground resistance striving to preserve the human spirit. Violently severed from her Singer by the brash young agent Roark, Ronja revels in her newfound freedom until the consequences of her disappearance begin to unfold. The first in a trilogy, Vinyl is a story of loyalty, passion, trauma, human connection, and the extraordinary power of real music.
A Solid Dystopian Debut
Vinyl is a true young adult novel that will appeal to fans of dystopia and steampunk. It takes place in the city of Revinia where all citizens are implanted with a device that suppresses their emotions and makes them pliable and submissive to the city’s leaders. Ronja—a young city dweller—has worn “a singer” since she was born. She endures its grating “Music” every time her emotions get out of control, which is often, considering the hardships and injustices she and her family go through day in and day out. Life is not easy, and she must scrape bare bottom just to put food on the table and keep her small cousins from joining Revinia’s bedraggled workforce.
But everything changes when she meets Roark, a mysterious boy who defies everything she knows. He comes into her life with a destructive force and undoes the flimsy existence she’s so carefully juggled into place. It is then that Ronja’s metal is tested, and we find a strong protagonist ready to fight for the right things, ready to put everything on the line for those she loves. Following her through each new discovery, we learn about Ravinia and it’s wicked history, as well as Vinyl’s amazing characters who come to life in full 3-D, proving that friendship, family, and justice are causes worth fighting for.
Page-turning action will keep the reader engaged, while unexpected twists will please even the most harden genre fans. Vinyl’s strengths lie with its many well-developed characters and clean prose. Though, the novel is not without its fault. Mainly, I feel the author missed the opportunity to create a richer world and show the effects that singers have on people’s emotions. For the most part, Revinia comes across as any bustling city and the occasional mention of airships and autos does little to construct a proper steampunk vibe. Moreover, the city appears like an isolated island in a world that is a complete unknown. What is beyond Revinia? How can it be so disconnected from everything else and get away with outfitting its citizens with mind-control devices without any judgment from anyone? Similarly, Revinia’s people are very much like regular Earth citizens (with the exception of Ronja’s mother who is known as a mutt) and don’t fully and convincingly portray a population under the evils of mind-control. How do they differ from us? What are some of the things they do that we would never do? A deeper exploration in this area would surely help create a better picture of this foreign world.
Those looking for a unique dystopia will not be disappointed with Vinyl and will turn the last the page wishing the sequel was at their fingertips.
One of the top five books this year
From the beginning of Vinyl I felt completely immersed in the gritty world that Hanson created. I applaud her ability to take something we all love, like music, and turn it into something dark and sinister. You really feel the pain the characters are going through as they fight for their lives, and in the end I was too attached for it to end. I can't wait until the next book in the series, as I need to continue following Ronja and her friends on this journey, no matter how hard it becomes.