“Melody” by David Hoffer- An SPSFC Semifinalist Review

I’ll be reading and reviewing every semifinalist for the Self-Published Science Fiction Contest! Check out my list with blurbs, covers, links, and first impressions for all the semifinalists here. Please let me know what you think of any/all of these books! I love comments, and love talking about books.

Melody by David Hoffer

Stephen Fisher had disturbing visions and continues to hear a song in his head. Through therapy, he has mostly managed to get past it, but his lingering doubts are sparked when his daughter claims the same affliction. When he loses her, he’s suddenly thrust into a struggle for control over an alien device that could change the world.

Melody is a compulsive read. Hoffer weaves a tale that kept me as a reader constantly wanting to know more without feeling unfulfilled in the present moment. The interlinked questions of what’s going on with the alien device, how it’s tied to the music Stephen hears, what and who the aliens are, and what the government(s) of Earth will do with some of this information continue to drive the story forward. It reads like a thriller as Hoffer utilizes these questions to keep the reader enthralled, turning page after page as time flies by.

The latter half of the novel has some opacity with a few major events. The sudden shift forward in time at one point around the halfway mark had threw me off enough to have to re-read a bit to ensure I didn’t miss something. This happens a couple more times in the second half, to the extent that I have a few questions remaining about the most important details in the novel. Those interlinked driving forces I mentioned above get answers, but some are answered so swiftly that I’m not sure they made the impact they should have. These answers could have been tightened up a bit more to make the novel even better than it is. By tightened up, I don’t mean made shorter–I mean clarified and perhaps worded in a better way. That’s not to say Hoffer fails here–it’s just that I wanted more out of some of the concluding sections than we got.

I find Melody a cerebral read that has kept me thinking on it for quite some time. It explores themes of loss and grief in a quite different way than I’ve encountered in science fiction. I can’t say a lot more about another theme in it, but it also utilizes a worldview that isn’t often utilized, at least in the sci-fi I’ve read. The ending is good, and I’m left thinking about how Hoffer handled some of his answers.

Melody is a unique take on unexpected themes in science fiction. It’s also a thoroughly captivating read. Recommended.


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