Oh my…this book is powerful, and I am devastated. Wrecked. Destroyed. This novel in verse was so unexpected and I’m in tears. Tami Charles, what have you done to me? I can’t even write properly right now. I feel sick. Muted is a book about the horrors of the music industry and it doesn’t hold back. Read the triggers because this is intense and the writing in verse made it all the more impactful for me.
Star rating: 5 stars
This novel in verse focuses on Denver and her friends Dali and Shak, an R&B girl teenage girl group looking for their big break. They catch the eye of big music star Merc, leading to huge life changes and a split friendship. Denver is the protagonist of this story told through verse. Her whole life revolves around music – she doesn’t consider herself beautiful like Dali or destined for a college scholarship like Shak. She is desperate for the chance to show off her talents and because of this she is so vulnerable. Denver is also figuring out her sexuality, and is starting to consider herself a lesbian.
Everything Merc offers the girls seems too good to be true. Shak’s religious family refuse her the opportunity and she’s not particularly hurt by this. Dali’s family really need the cash, and Denver’s are sceptical. Denver fights back, going against their wishes to pursue her dreams. Denver and Dali are pulled into Merc’s world, isolated in his mansion in Atlanta with no access to the outside world. He pushes Denver to change her appearance, alters her songs to have more provocative lyrics and does not let her see Dali even though they’re living in the same house. Merc is a master manipulator, making Denver feel special with flattery and the promise of opportunity.
The writing is so powerful – the blunt poetic style really makes the dreams and doubt of a talented teenager hit home. Merc uses his position to manipulate girls with ambition in order to steal from them and do horrifying things to them and we experience this through Denver. Separated from her friends and family, she is so alone through realising that her situation is not all she thought it would be. And the ending is something else entirely, I was so shocked at horrified but it felt realistic. This is a very painful book to read.
Overall, Muted by Tami Charles is excellent. Centred on a female friendship each with different backgrounds experiencing the worst of the music industry, it really does make for an impactful story. The writing only enhances the messages. I’ve been wanting to read this book for ages and it absolutely did not disappoint.