Anna Smaill || The Chimes

The Chimes is a dystopian novel with a well-known theme: the world is destroyed by a disaster or attack, an elite has usurped power and restraints the common folk, one or more brave heroes will fight the elite and save the world, often with help from someone quite unexpected. In The Chimes the world has been destroyed by a weapon called the Carillon, an elite group of priests uses the tunes of this same weapon to control the masses, resulting in sickness and memory loss. Only those with jobs manage to hold on to their memories. Two brave young men, Simon and Lucien, are capable of destroying the carillon and set out to do so, braving difficulty and danger on their way. In The Chimes written language has been replaced by music as a means of communication. Books and anything written have been destroyed by the priests; their goal: avoid chaos and provide order, in which they – unfortunately – have gone a little too far.
I found whilst reading that I felt that the theme was too well-known, used too often. Smaill is not the first writer presenting us a world in danger and brave heroes fighting to save the world. The moment the novel started concentrating on Simon and Lucien’s quest I started to lose interest. I did like the Dickensian way Smaill portrayed London: I could almost smell and feel the mud Simon and Lucien have to face crawling through the old sewerage and underground system. Simon’s fear of losing is memory is also tangible; Smaill beautifully describes his efforts to maintain his memories by holding on to small artefacts. Those who have lost their memories, zombies walking around without any purpose, scare Simon to death.
The Chimes grabbed me when Smaill made London and Simon’s fear come alive, it lost me when the quest became the focal point. Even adding music to the equation did not conceal the fact that Smaill’s theme was not surprising enough. I had problems imagining how communication through music would work, I can imagine that I am not the only one having difficulties grabbing this concept. As a result I found The Chimes insufficiently convincing.

Anna Small-The Chimes


About booksandliliane

I am an avid reader and love to share my love for literature. I have my own opinion on books that have been shortlisted, laureated by critics or are pushed on us by bookstores. I will try and explain why I like or do not like a book. Hopefully influencing you in your choice of books to read.
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3 Responses to Anna Smaill || The Chimes

  1. There does seem to have been a lot of dystopian themed fiction around lately. Shame this one didn’t work for you.

  2. BookerTalk says:

    this is one of the Booker long listed titles I haven’t got around to. Seeing your review I’m now going to give it a miss – I hadn’t realised it was a dystopian theme (something that I never can get into). thanks for saving me some effort

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