Genre: YA post-apocalyptic fiction
Length: 309 pages
Setting: near future, Manhattan Island
Interest: It was in the new book section at the library. I picked it up because of its name and brought it home because of the concept – music that is used by a drug by the government.
Summary: Anthem lives in the City run by the Corp, which runs all aspects of life in the City. To keep the populace under control, the use encoded music that acts like drugs. Citizens are monitored to make sure they are tracking regularly and going to clubs. All unencoded music is banned. Anthem is part of an illegal band. When the lead singer is killed by a targeted track, the band decides to play for others and try to bring down the Corp. They’re bused by the police before they can start the revolution, and Anthem is coerced into becoming a corporate musician. When he discovers they’re tailoring tracks to completely control people, Anthem revisits his idea to start a revolution, and enlists his friends to help.
Final thoughts: The promise of this book really delivers. I love the idea of music as a drug. Everyone knows how music can affect your mood, so adding something to it so it’s actually addictive is quite believable. Not being able to sing or whistle or hum would cut out an important part of my life. Throughout the book, Anthem is conflicted between the need to track (listen to the addictive music) and the knowledge that it’s slowly killing him.
The book also does a great job moving outside of the traditional gender roles. At first, I had a hard time remembering that Anthem was a teen-age boy and not a girl. The difficulty was partly because of his gender-neutral name, and partly because he was so devoted to his younger siblings. You don’t often see a male character shown in such a nurturing light. There were also several queer characters, including Anthem himself. Anthem’s ex was a boy but he was currently in a relationship with a girl, and it wasn’t a bit deal either way – it just was.
This is definitely written for the older teen audience since there is a bit of language and implied sex (both straight and gay).
Title comes from: The musical term. Anthem was trying to end the rule of the Corporation, just like a song end. He got the symbol tattooed onto his hand. The coda symbol was used throughout the book as separators for sections, as well.
Reading challenges fulfilled: 20/100 in my 100 Book Challenge, and a T in the Alphabet Soup Author Challenge
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