Book Review: Muted by Tami Charles

Amazon.com: Muted (9781338673524): Charles, Tami: Books

Title: Muted

Author: Tami Charles

Genre: YA Realistic Fiction/Books in Verse

Number of Pages: 489

Rating: B+

Recommended?: Yes


Trigger Warning(s): Sexual Assault, Manipulation, Gaslighting, Kidnapping

This is, without a doubt, one of the BEST books in verse I’ve ever read. I’ve mentioned before in other reviews that I like the format of novel-in-verse genre but that it often feels somewhat insubstantial, but Muted had well-developed characters and an engrossing storyline. Inspired by the #Metoo movement and accusations made against celebrities (particularly in the music industry,) Muted tells the story of a seventeen-year-old Black girl who jumps at the chance to be represented by her favorite R&B star, Sean Ellis.

Denver is na├»ve and desperate to get out of her small town and away from the expectations of her family. Sean whisks Denver and her best friend (and secret girlfriend) Dali away from the familiar and introduces them to an opulent lifestyle, but the scenario turns out to be too good to be true when he starts taking control of songs Denver has written. There’s a third friend, Shak, who immediately becomes uncomfortable with the situation and she wises up and leaves fast.

At first Denver willingly runs away from home and goes to live with Sean as he jumpstarts her and Dali’s musical careers, but over time she starts to feel more and more like a prisoner. Separated from Dali, constantly monitored, and put on a punishing exercise regimen, Denver realizes she’s made a big mistake as Sean begins to show his true colors. One of the things I really liked about this book was the realization of who Sean really was was gradual and showed a great of subtlety.

He isn’t some foaming-at-the-mouth sexual predator and you can totally see how he beguiles and ensnares his young fans. Denver seemed a little younger than seventeen, and I found it hard to believe that she didn’t realize what type of situation she was in after the first party (when she is assaulted while unconscious.) I thought a seventeen-year-old would be able to recognize that she had been raped and be able to see right through Sean’s lame-ass explanation, but I was able to suspend disbelief and understand why Denver was psychologically able to ignore what was staring her right in the face.

I liked the use of internet comments and texts and they helped the story feel more real. It also did an excellent job building suspense and I had a hard time putting it down, because I wanted to know if Denver would be able win the game of cat-and-mouse and be reunited with her family. The ending was very sad but I also thought it was an appropriate note to end the story on.

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