Author: Jessica Bell
Rating: 3/5 stars
“Note: This cyberpunk/dystopian short story is an experimental work of fiction written in verse. Page count: 30. Word count: 2000
It’s illegal to wear clothes. In some streets, it’s also illegal to sing. Concetta, a famous A Capella singer from before “the change,” breaks these laws. As punishment, her vocal chords are brutally slashed, and her eardrums surgically perforated. Unable to cope living a life without song, she resolves to drown herself in the river, clothed in a dress stained with performance memories. But Concetta’s suicide attempt is deterred, when she is distracted by a busking harpist with gold eyes and teeth. Will he show her how to sing again, or will the LEO on the prowl for another offender to detain, arrest her before she has the chance?
I’ve been getting into “verse novels” a lot lately. I’ve discovered that there’s a great world in between poetry and prose that can be found in this style of writing. When I came across this short story in verse, I was intrigued, to say the least.
Being that this is a short story and it’s in verse form, word usage is bound to be constrained and word choice key to making the story aspect work. Overall I felt that Bell had a great concept with this as a story. The main character was interesting and the dystopian setting caught my interest. But, I feel, the limits of the writing form got in the way of me fully enjoying the story.
I felt there was a need for more world building. There’s enough to get the reader to understand the dangers, crimes, etc of this society, but it’s a little too much of just “on the surface” explanation. I was also a little lost at times when it switched from the present to the flashback of Conetta’s last concert then back.
Don’t get me wrong. There was good to go along with the issues I felt the story had. I applaud anyone for trying to write a story in verse and hope that this author has more in store. I have a feeling that if I were to read another verse story of hers (if she has any or plans on writing more) that happens to be longer, I’ll enjoy it. For this one, I think it needed a little more room to grow. It’s still worth checking out.
You can grab a copy of muted from:
About the Author:
If Jessica Bell could choose only one creative mentor, she’d give the role to Euterpe, the Greek muse of music and lyrics. This is not only because she currently resides in Athens, Greece, but because of her life as a 30-something Australian-native contemporary fiction author, award-winning poet and singer/songwriter/guitarist, whose literary inspiration often stems from songs she’s written.
Being the daughter of a semi-famous rock ‘n’ roll duo from Melbourne, she grew up surrounded by song. For a while it seemed logical to travel the musician’s path, especially when her first band, spAnk, hit it off in the Melbourne indie music scene back in the late 90s. Although she spent her years writing and recording dozens of songs she decided she also had a love for the written word, and began to pursue a career as a writer.
She started as a poet, drawing from her musical background and etching her thoughts and feelings into verse. Those stanzas soon turned into sentences and paragraphs, and eventually into published books. Her literary voice is said to overflow with “lyrical descriptions, unique metaphors, tight dialogue, and an abundance of sensory detail.” She has also been told she has the ability to take a seemingly ordinary three-chord type story and turn it into a main stage event.
In addition to her novels, her poetry collections (including FABRIC, which was nominated for the Goodreads Choice Awards in 2012), and her pocket writing guides (WRITING IN A NUTSHELL SERIES), she has published a variety of works in online and print literary journals and anthologies, including Australia’s Cordite Review, and the anthologies 100 STORIES FOR QUEENSLAND and SHADOWS AT THE STAGE DOOR, both released through Australia’s, eMergent Publishing.
Additionally, she is the Co-Publishing Editor of Vine Leaves Literary Journal, and makes a living as an editor/writer for English Language Teaching publishers worldwide, such as Pearson Education, HarperCollins, Macmillan Education, Education First and Cengage Learning.
Find out more: