Review Time! “Melophobia” by James Morris


Merrin looked like just another bystander in the crowd, the fire’s warm glow bathing her face, but what people couldn’t see was that she was a phoenix, rising from the ashes, reborn.

I was provided with a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review. This in no way altered my opinion of the novel.


Melophobia is an adult dystopian set in modern-day America. The government controls all forms of art, particularly music – each and every song must undergo stringent tests in order to prove that it is appropriate. Merrin Pierce is an undercover Patrol officer lives with her father, the Minister of Broadcast Standards. A brilliant officer, she is tasked with taking down “The Source,” a man who creates illegal, inappropriate music.


Morris’s writing style was evocative of Harlan Coben’s, an old favorite of mine, who pens excellent fast-paced suspense novels. Just like in his first novel What Lies Within, the end of almost every chapter left you with a cliffhanger, leaving you no choice but to continue reading.

As someone who wholeheartedly disapproves of censorship, reading a novel dedicated to the subject was incredibly interesting. Melophobia reminded me of one of my all-time favorite novels, Fahrenheit 451. Whether we’re talking about censoring or banning music or novels, it’s still scary to think about! Morris has crafted a literary world that feels frighteningly similar to ours, with slight, alarming variations that make you grateful we have free reign on what we listen to or read.

The characters were surprisingly well-crafted, considering the novel’s short, 240-page span. Merrin was a complicated, ultimately lovable protagonist, who deals with her issues in a rational way. After reading both of Morris’s novels, as a female reader, I’m grateful that he writes such well-crafted female leads.

Merrin’s father Tarquin and her partner Anders were atrocious male leads, but that was the point – they were complex and Morris gave you plenty of reason to hate them! Anders in particular was the epitome of everything I hate about male entitlement: if they can’t get the girl, they throw a temper tantrum, reminiscent of a small child.

The ending to Melophobia was incredibly sad, but that was okay. I appreciate Morris not writing the stereotypical “everything winds up being peachy keen!” ending that so many authors utilize. It was refreshing to read a mature, bittersweet ending in a suspenseful novel!


I ultimately really enjoyed Melophobia! It was a fast-paced, contemplative read that provides the reader with ample material to discuss and think about. The vast subject matter was critical: upon finishing the novel, you reflect on the importance of non-censorship and what exactly you would do when faced with difficult decisions. I gave Melophobia four out of five stars.

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