Wednesday 13 January 2016

REVIEW: Karen Malena - Sound of Silence

Genre: Dystopian
Publisher: Tuxedo & Beans
Publication Date: 15th June 2015
Pages: 124


A copy of Sound of Silence was sent to Confessions of a Reviewer by the author Karen Malena in exchange for an honest review. This is said review.

I suspect you may not have heard of Karen Malena if you are coming straight into this review. I hadn’t heard of Karen before she contacted me to talk about a review for Sound of Silence and the possibility of doing an interview for Confessions. If you want to learn more about Karen then head on over here, where you will find an in depth interview with her to find everything you need to know.

This is not Karen’s normal genre of writing so I was interested to see what she could do with this dystopian type of story and thought I should give it a chance.

Was I right?

The year is 2050. After years of terrorist attacks across the world, the government needed to come up with a way to police spoken, and written communication, to try and curb these attacks.

In an extreme measure, speaking aloud has been outlawed for some years. All newly born children have implants put in their voice boxes to make sure they cannot speak. All adults must not under any circumstances speak out loud or the consequences could be dire.

Ray Warren comes to the aid of an old woman who falls over. When she thanks him, he makes a fatal mistake and tells her she is welcome. Amidst gasps from the people surrounding him, he runs. He knows he has nowhere to hide and must make some careful decisions to protect his family. Or does he take a stand against the tyranny?

So can you imagine a world where you aren’t allowed to speak, and if you do, you could be sentenced to death? In some ways the scenario in this story sounds ridiculous but in others, it mirrors what many of us believe is happening to our society to a certain degree in our current lives.

Everywhere you look people of all ages have their noses permanently stuck in their smartphones or tablets or have earphones in and conversation is not on the agenda. I am guilty of it myself. Especially when I have the phones in to drown out the sound when my nose is stuck in my Kindle. To be honest, reading this story, it made me think how lucky we are and how horrible and unimaginable it would be to live like Ray Warren.

Ray is obviously the main character in this story. He is a victim of circumstance. Sucked into a scenario he ultimately has no control over. As a person, he is a decent hardworking man, trying to look after his wife, Julie and young daughter, Veronica. The hell he suffers in this story after putting their lives at risk is palpable. I don’t want to go into other characters too much in this one to give the story away but other good people to look out for are one of the Stewards of Order, Santiago and the old woman, Rosa, who turns out to be more than just the old woman she seems.

The nasty character in this is Senator Frank Tomlinson. He is the man who introduced the no speaking law and has a less than desirable hidden history. To be honest I couldn’t despise anyone more than I despised him. I wanted him dead after only five minutes of reading about him. Horrible horrible man.

The story itself is basic. Ray speaks when he shouldn’t have and then goes on the run. He gets captured and then things take a turn that neither he nor you would expect. That’s as much as I can tell you without spoilers but suffice to say Ray finds his voice and doesn’t want to let go. He uncovers a trail of corruption and abuse and tries everything within his power to change the lives of everyone living and also give them back the history they know nothing about.

This has a sort of Hunger Games feel to it as in, it’s a story of oppression, forcing people into a way of life that they have no alternative too. The way Karen Malena has written this story is very effective. I couldn’t help but imagine everything in a sort of sepia tone as I was reading. It has a very end of the world type feel to it. Very closed in, almost like someone is pushing down on the world, suppressing everyone living in it and trying to subdue everything that is going on. That is exactly what is happening in the story so to give you that effect whilst reading is a definite high five to Ms Malena.

It does show, however, that Karen Malena is writing outside of her comfort zone. Now, that is not necessarily a bad thing. I just think it needs to be polished a bit more if she would want to continue in this genre. The idea behind the story is fantastic. She makes it very believable but at the same time the story didn’t flow well for me in places. Again this will not take away from your enjoyment of the book. It just shows in places that this is a first attempt at this type of story. If I can turn that slight negative into a positive…..keep at it Ms Malena because your ideas are fresh and imaginative and with a little bit more practise, I reckon you could be opening up a whole new line of writing for yourself. I would certainly read more of it.

To summarise: a dystopian future world where you are not allowed to speak. One man breaks the rules and must face the consequences or challenge everything put in front of him. A fast paced chase to the finish where everyone will either shout for joy or be stunned into silence. A big thumbs up from me for a first venture into this type of writing.

General rating:

★★★★ huge potential.

Well done for new genre rating:

★★★★ keep going Ms Malena!

If you would like to help support Confessions of a Reviewer, then please consider using the links below to buy Sound of Silence or any other books from Karen. This not only supports me but also lets me know how many people actually like to buy books after reading my reviews.


Book Synopsis:

One small mistake . . . one dire consequence.

What would happen in a world without speech, a world where only electronic, texted conversing was permitted?

Ray Warren does the unthinkable. He seals his fate by speaking out in a moment of kindness in an era where speech has been outlawed. The year is 2050. Due to a lethal rise in terrorism and a powerful politician’s decree, officials now monitor all spoken and written communication. Military police exercise full control of any disobedience. Children born into the world are implanted with a special surgical chip which renders their vocal chords paralyzed. Ray, one good man, makes a bold gesture and in doing so, condemns himself and must leave the family he loves to ensure their safety.

Karen Malena comes from a close-knit Italian family which has given her the inspiration to breathe life into stories, some humorous, others a bit thought-provoking.

She's active in her community encouraging new writers through local library programs and one-on-one mentoring.

She's a compassionate animal lover with a biting sense of humor which you may see in her Facebook cat page, Piggy!

Karen is a member of a monthly writer's group, Pittsburgh East Scribes.

She gives all glory to God for her journey.

And for more about Karen, visit her site or find her on social media:

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so very much, Nev for the frank, honest review. I hope others will see in this book what I truly wished to convey as you did. I really appreciate you taking the time for the interview and review!