Childhood therapy cured Stephen Fisher of disturbing visions and the delusion of having come from another world. But when his daughter obsesses over a star in the night sky, he fears that his genetic legacy may have burdened her with the same illness. His sanity is then shattered when he loses his child and the military abducts him claiming that she recorded a song broadcast from another world.
A voice inside Stephen’s head convinces him that he can bring his daughter back to life. What he discovers instead is a stunning truth about himself, his child’s destiny, and fate of the entire human race…
Melody is a riveting and thought-provoking science fiction novel. If you like first contact scenarios and action-filled pages, then you’ll love David Hoffer’s otherworldly adventure.
Disclaimer: This review is my own personal experience. It does not represent the overall views of Team Escapist.
Greetings! Here is my first of six personal reviews for Team Escapist’s Semifinalists. At the time of writing this review, two of my teammates have shared positive scores internally. My thoughts and opinions are more conflicted than those of my teammates. In addition, other reviewers whom I admire liked it so please decide for yourself. Melody stayed true to the synopsis’ description of an action-packed sci-fi thriller. If you’re looking for an action-packed story with a unique twist on first contact, Melody will keep you entertained.
I’ll start with what I enjoyed. The author’s ideas reached original heights. The premise of receiving a transmission from a distant planet immediately drew me in. I don’t want to get into specific plot details because it would spoil the story’s more interesting aspects. I kept thinking about some of the big ideas for hours after I finished the story. I’ll just say that I enjoyed the reveals and leave it at that, especially the description of the alien beings. The author did something unique with this concept, and I wholeheartedly supported it.
Melody reminded me of a sci-fi thriller movie where it’s good guys vs bad guys with little nuance in order to create tension. It felt superficial and predictable because the emphasis seemed to be mostly on external events and characters reacting to them. The military performs as one would expect.
The blurb mentions destiny, the fate of the human race, and self-discovery, and I think I just wanted to see more of the inner workings of the human condition play out in a first contact scenario, as well as the characters being the center of the story. There were themes that should’ve struck emotional chords within me but felt underdeveloped, lacking impact. I wanted to go that extra mile and expand on the character’s trauma, mental illness, marriage survival after the loss of a child, terminal diagnosis, identity, love, family, and so on. Instead of deconstructing these areas, the military abduction and weapon plotlines took precedence, leaving the characters feeling one-dimensional. There wasn’t a lot of character depth. We see the General’s anger and the wife’s easy acquiescence despite the significant risks, but we never see how they were before or any further growth, so I found it difficult to care.
The characters served to move the plot forward, but I would have preferred to see the plot used to highlight the characters’ growth and experiences. The fast pace prevented me from fully immersing myself in the story. I felt a disconnect between what made the stakes so high. Most of the characters were likable, but none stood out. I liked the inclusion of an older character in the science field. The writing style was easy to read.
Melody had some qualities that I liked in general. I believe the story would have worked better for me if it had a character-driven approach rather than plot-driven. Personally, I felt that the military/government plot overshadowed too many of the positives, effectively boxing in any significant characterization. There was a really interesting story underneath, but the course of action didn’t work for me.
I use a rating system that considers the characters, setting/world building, atmosphere/tone, writing/narrative style, plot, intrigue, enjoyment, pacing, originality of ideas, and use of themes. After rating each of these areas individually out of 10, I add up, divide and I’m left with a final score that has taken into consideration many different aspects of the story. For the purpose of the SPSFC2 competition, I’m holding off on sharing my score until we announce as a team. Thank you for reading.
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