By: McKenzie Welch
Many well known titles come from the dystopian genre, such as ‘The Hunger Games’ and ‘Divergent’. ‘Vinyl’, ‘Radio’, and ‘Siren’ by Sophia Elaine Hanson are a part of a self-published set of additions to this prevalent sector of novels. The ‘Vinyl’ series features action, adventure, romance, found family, and a critique on something that exists in the society that we live in today.
The ‘Vinyl’ trilogy takes place in a self-created world, featuring countries such as Revinia and Tovaire.
Hanson adds a creative twist to music, making it so that song is practically intertwined with the words on the pages of the novel. Essentially, the people of Revinia have earpieces, dubbed “singers”, that play music throughout all hours of the day and night. These monotonous pieces are meant to implement control over the citizens of the country.
Ronja Zipse, our main character, is a citizen who struggles greatly with her singer, mainly because she works so hard to resist the music playing in her head. The description of the world makes it seem very drab, as there is no individuality; everyone thinks the way that the conductor has decided is best.
Of course, most dystopian novels are not complete without a rebellion, and the Anthem (the name of the rebellion in the book) is a prevailing aspect throughout all three novels. The Belly, where the rebellious members of the Anthem live, is a place where people can forge friendships, find family, and make a life for themselves right underneath the people whose lives are continuously being stolen away by repetitive music notes.
I cannot connect to any type of media, whether it be shows, movies, or novels, if I am not connected to the characters. The main characters were well fleshed out in this trilogy. These characters were named Ronja, Roark, Henry, Evie, Iris, and Terra, and they all had their own traits, relationships, and backgrounds that made them who they were.
Because the characters were all so different, it was easy for me to find a character who I could see myself within, which I generally believe makes a book more interesting to read. That character for me was Iris, who was shy, sensitive, but also stronger than you would ever know just by looking at her. The characters also gave representation for the LGBTQ+ community, as there were multiple same-sex relationships between both background characters and main characters.
All in all, even if I could not directly connect to a character, I still found myself sympathetic towards them, which shows that Hanson created loveable characters that made the novel itself more enjoyable.
Overall, I ended up rating the book 3.5/5 stars. My reasoning for this is that, although I enjoyed the plot and the characters immensely, in my opinion, there were still areas that lacked. For example, there were relationships between characters that felt as though they were either underdeveloped or as though they were created out of convenience. I personally feel as though the relationships would not have been so lackluster if characters had been paired with others outside of their own circle of friends.
Also, there was the beginnings of a love triangle that never matured into anything more. If you’re going to add a trope into a book, be sure that it actually evolves into what it’s supposed to be.
Finally, the writing style was, at times, not captivating to me. Although there were some typos and mistakes, it was not bad by any means, especially when you take into consideration the fact that this book was self-published, but there were moments throughout my reading where I wasn’t able to keep my mind solely focused on the words on the page.
However, there were other times where the writing descriptions were extremely vivid and kept me enthralled in the story.
So, in the end, I believe that there are things to critique throughout the novels, but, if you like representative dystopian novels that implement new twists on things often perceived as mundane, I would recommend the ‘Vinyl’ series to you.