I really love YA dystopias. Like, a lot. Luckily for me, thanks to their rise in popularity, there are a lot of really awesome dystopias out there. Less luckily for me, there are as many not-so-awesome ones as there are good ones. You know what I mean – the ones that are just grasping for something to make illegal in their future world and make their protagonist like Really Super Special and Immune, the only person Truly Thinking in a world of sheeple. They throw in a love triangle, make it a trilogy, and call it done.
I have to make them see that this is its own high: playing, being here, seeing the music instead of just being another bite for the insatiable appetite of the drug. I know I don’t have them, not yet, but through blurred eyes I see bodies find Mage’s beat. Sweet-sour adrenaline floods over my tongue and my hands strum faster I barely notice tearing off a thumbnail.
In Coda, the populace is controlled through music, which the government uses to essentially drug everyone. This futuristic, altered music can make people happy, can take pain away, can cause someone to OD – can even kill them instantly. And everyone is addicted. They’re introduced to music as children and from that moment on, its a ticking clock to death. The music wears at them the way most drugs do. Thirty in this world is old, especially for the poor. The wealthy are a little better off. Their music is weaker – really good marijuana to the lower half’s meth.
Anthem, our protagonist, is no exception. He’s just as addicted as everyone else. He hates it just as much as everyone else. What makes him different is his secret acts of rebellion – the biggest one being that he’s in a band. In the world of Coda, normal people don’t play instruments. They don’t sing or even hum. Music is highly regulated by the government. To have a secret underground band? That’s inviting arrest. That’s could invite death.
Anthem is incredibly careful, of course, not just for himself but because he has two younger siblings that rely on him. But when their leader is killed, Anthem and the band decide it’s time to take matters into their own hands. It’s time to rebel a little less quietly.
Anthem is special not because of some immunity to the music. He’s special because he is just as addicted as everyone else and he makes the decision to fight back.
Coda is filled with gorgeous prose and vibrant characters that don’t fit into the predictable YA dystopia roles. If you’re into dystopias, you definitely have to read this. If you’re not sure, read it anyway.