The Chimes by Anna Smaill
Sceptre: Hodder & Stoughton, 2015. ISBN: 9781444794533
(Age: 15+) Music. Dystopian fiction. In one word: unusual.
This is a book like no other, or at least any that I've read. Highly experimental (and ironic) The Chimes is set in a futuristic world where society has done away with visual knowledge and replaced it with aural. This is a difficult concept to grasp and so I would only recommend it to readers of experimental fiction or those familiar with musical terms and concepts.
Music is the way of things and the written word has long since been forbidden. The story follows Simon, recently orphaned and alone in London, as he struggles to remember what his mother told him. He has only the memories that he can carry, but will that be enough to see him through? Seemingly by accident Simon is drawn to the Strand, chasing a mysterious silence which he later learns is the Lady. There he meets Lucien, a blind boy and the leader of a pact. With nothing left to do Simon joins him in order to harvest the mysterious mettle. He quickly proves himself as an excellent runner. He has a gift for finding the Lady's song and also, it seems, for keeping memory. Challenged at every turn by Lucien, Simon's connection with the other boy grows, putting him in a danger he can hardly fathom. With Chimes tugging away his memories will Simon have the power to resist long enough to help Lucien?
Without knowledge of musical terms and concepts this book is utterly confusing, almost as if it contains a whole other language. Deliberate use of close words such as mettle/ metal and blasphony/blasphemy, makes the world both familiar and unfamiliar at the same time which only adds to the readers confusion.