Title: A Song to Take the World Apart
Author: Zan Romanoff
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Published Date: 13th September 2016
Rating: 4 stars
*Thank you to the author for the review copy*
Synopsis: What if you could make someone love you back, just by singing to them? Fans of Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You the Sun and Leslye Walton’s The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender will be captivated by this contemporary love story with hints of magical realism.
Hanging out with Chris was supposed to make Lorelei’s life normal. He’s cooler, he’s older, and he’s in a band, which means he can teach her about the music that was forbidden in her house growing up. Her grandmother told her when she was little that she was never allowed to sing, but listening to someone else do it is probably harmless— right?
The more she listens, though, the more keenly she can feel her own voice locked up in her throat, and how she longs to use it. And as she starts exploring the power her grandmother never wanted her to discover, influencing Chris and everyone around her, the foundations of Lorelei’s life start to crumble. There’s a reason the women in her family never want to talk about what their voices can do.
And a reason Lorelei can’t seem to stop herself from singing anyway.
Review: A Song to Take the World Apart was a novel that caught my eye as soon as I saw the cover. I looked into the book a little further by reading the synopsis and that was where I was really hooked. All signs in the synopsis pointed to this one being about sirens. It also had elements of magical realism which made me wary as I hadn’t enjoyed much within that genre previously, but this novel has made me sure that the issue with those novels themselves, and not the genre at all.
It was almost scary how the writing style of this novel seemed to be so perfectly attuned to what I look for in a writing style. Despite it being of the young adult genre, this lent a little more on the adult side when it came to the writing style. It was written beautifully, with gentle and discreet foreshadowing and literary devices slipped into it to really represent what was occurring in the plot. It has a very slow and steady pace to it, and I have to admit that the pacing might not be for everyone. However, in my opinion, it added to the overall theme and aesthetic of the book – the writing style made me think of the gentle and yet forceful ocean, which has a key part to play in the novel.
I really liked the characters. We don’t get too much of a deep connection with them as this is told in third person but mostly focuses on what Lorelei is feeling and what is happening to her. She really is the center of the novel. But we do get to see some storylines which belong to other characters, and Romanoff expertly winds all the individual storylines into one. And somehow, they all come together to have an effect on the main storyline and the trouble that Lorelei manages to get herself caught into. So even though we don’t get to know too much about the lives of the secondary characters, we do get to see their significance.
The plot was perfect for me. It is suitable to read this one as a summery, light-hearted contemporary. Yet at the same time Romanoff shows the reader the difficulties within relationships, and how they are never straightforward. This is woven in well with the magical realism element of the story, which highlights how complicated relationships – whether those of family, friends or to do with love – can be.
There are other themes included as well as love. Again, if I have to describe these themes it would have to be like the ocean: present, but discreet at the same time. There is that of the romance, but also of how parental issues can reflect on the family, themes of death, love, and also LGBTQ+ themes. Music also has a large role to play in the novel, and not only when it comes to Lorelei being forbidden to sing. Also in terms of how music sets people free, how people can fall in love with it, and how music itself has a large influence on people.
The ending to the novel isn’t quite a closed ending, but isn’t quite an open ending either. I thought that would be something that bothered me. It didn’t, though, because it was perfectly suited to the novel and wrapped everything up in a way befitting of sending a particular message about life.
I loved reading A Song to Take the World Apart and can’t wait to read more by this author. I am aware that even though I loved it, it probably won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. Hopefully this review will direct the right readers to it, and help you decide if it is something you might be able to enjoy.
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Olivia’s Question: What’s your favourite song at the moment?