“The Chimes” by Anna Smaill, is a futuristic sci-fi/fantasy novel, about Simon, a boy living in a world where memories are just a concept, music rules the world and everyone should stick to what they know. The cover art is beautiful and the preview on the back really sold me the book.
Simon is on a journey to London, and all he has with him, is a bag full of memories and a tune to help him find what he is searching for. He ends up joining a pact in the London underground, living with Lucien and the others and together, they form the group of the Five Rovers. Lucien keeps asking Simon questions and as time goes by, Simon realizes how the world is really put together and who he is and what he himself should be capable of doing. It’s not exactly a “the chosen one” type story, but it’s about a boy who struggles to learn the truths of himself and the world surrounding him.
First of all, the language used in this book, takes a lot of its words and phrases from the world of music, and it took me a little while and a lot of mind to get used to, as I am not educated in reading music. It’s not a huge obstacle for those of us not used to the words, but it is however nice to be aware of, before plunging into the book. With that said, it gives the book an otherworldly sense, and it is believable that the language itself would be different, when the surrounding circumstances indeed are different from what we experience in real life.
The main character, Simon, feels rather like a somewhat flat protagonist, as he is neither not-likeable or really likeable. We gain sympathy with him, because he is the one whose thoughts we gain access to, but he feels no different from anyone else in the book, which actually serves as a positive thing in this matter for me, as you get the sense that we are being dropped into this world sort of at random, and happen to come across this particular boy.
The plot evolves quite nicely and is explained throughout. The universe itself seems finished and believable as well as interesting, without ever getting the chance to really unfold into all it could be – this book might have been a splendid choice for a trilogy, for the plot to come to its right. But that being said, I also like the fact that it is all contained in this one little novel, and that we don’t have to follow these people for several hundred pages before the protagonist and the love-interest get their eyes up for one another.
Speaking of love interest, for the better part of the book, romance is hardly relevant, mentioned or even displayed as an opportunity for our characters – it is not really a thing worth dwelling on it seems, and I for one enjoyed reading a book seemingly with better things to portray – and then, out of pretty much nowhere, a probably romance spurred and was flung into the plot.
It did not have me convinced, and at the final turn of the page, the ending that seemed to be the only possible ending to this book, came far too easy, because of that specific romance, which I will not reveal here because of spoilers. But let’s just say, that the book could’ve easily lived without, and might even had been more substantial, especially with regards to the ending, where one key character sadly, ends up dead. In my opinion, there is no real reason other than the before-mentioned romance, but it doesn’t seem realistic with regards to the events that lead up to it.
Anyway, the ending is actually very lovely, and I liked the book so much, that I read it in basically one sitting.
Have you read The Chimes or are you thinking about it?