Musical Land Trilogy

by Ellen Taylor

In an alternate universe where famous historical figures are all living in one era and musicals are their every day life, fourteen-year-old Marie Curie has been told that following her passion in science will lead to a future of flipping burgers and waiting tables. As hard as she tries, the arts remain an enigma to her. She is selected to attend Presley High, one of the most prestigious schools in the city, as part of a social experiment to help her grades. With budding geniuses all around her, she feels doomed to be forever an outcast. However, when she stumbles upon a secret which shakes the foundation of Musical Land, she realizes targets from bullies aren't as terrifying as targets from the president of the city. 

**This is a historical (fan)fiction, so technically I don't own these characters/real life humans. And I also take creative liberties with them, so they're not exactly who they are in real life, but that's what makes it fun!**

**I am taking a short hiatus to finish book 3, but book 1 and 2 are DONE!!**

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Ellen Taylor

Ellen Taylor

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Table of Contents
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Dystopian story for teens

Reviewed at: Chapter 37

If I were to categorize this story, I'd say it's YA dystopian story. One might think that this might be like Hunger Games or Divergent, the famous YA dystopian stories where the heroine is a person that doesn't fit it and then goes on to start a revolution and all that. Not at all...for now...maybe...

This book is a coming of age story of Marie Curie, our protagonist. Just a little segue, the characters are named after historical figures and carries some of their traits, but this isn't a time travel story or anything. Anyway, this story is like the usual teen stories about going to a new school, fitting in, getting bulied, crushes, love life, zits, etc. So demographics-wise this isn't for me (I'm a guy and high school was half a lifetime away) but I continued reading it. Why? It's the dystopian aspect. 

If the main character is not like Katniss Everdeen in Hunger Games trying to revolt then what is she? She's like a normal citizen in Hunger Games trying to survive the dystopian society. If I'm going to describe this story, I'd say 1984 for kids. I have no idea if that was the intention of the author. It's not like there are deep philosophical discussions here, but I really enjoyed the novelty of the setup, which was why I kept on reading it even though I'm not the target audience. In a weird twist, arts and musics are controlling society. In stories with authoritarian regimes, the arts are usually oppressed. The musical numbers adds a different level of oppressive feeling to the whole thing (they are forced to do musical numbers). Yeah...I haven't seen musical numbers in written form before.

The writing is on the simplistic side, which isn't really a problem for me. She's a high schooler thinking about high school things in a dystopian world. In fact, it adds to the eeriness of the whole setup. I wasn't really taken out of the story by any grammar errors and it was an overall easy read. 

Unexpectedly, I liked the whole thing. I read the entire Book 1. But then again, I like out of the box stories. I sure do hope the author develops this more. The second book will be more on the dystopian aspect, based on how book 1 ended, and less on the coming of age part. 

Overall, a pleasant surprise of a story, and one I haven't seen done before. 

Sii
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Disturbingly Charming

Reviewed at: Chapter 8

Overall:

If chips were put in our heads that forced us to sing and dance, we'd be living in Musical Land. I really enjoyed what I read so far and plan to read more when I get the time to do so. In a world where Science and Math are deemed evil, what happens to the people who just want to pursue those studies?

I found very little to complain about during my read. As you read, you'll get an eerie sense of familiarity. Learning about the rules and inner-workings of Musical Land brought about a soft sense of disquiet for me, maybe because it's an effective commentary piece on the world at large. Marie feels real and I'm sure she will continue to grow as a character the further one reads. We get to learn about Musical Land right along with Marie since she's pretty much a fish out of water. Being a lover of the Sciences, she's treated pretty coldly. We don't get to see this much within the first 7-8 chapters but we do get a sense of detachment.

Story & Character:

Easily the two strongest points. Marie is reticent and demure while everyone else around her is a bit over the top. It's like she's a black and white character trapped in a colorful world. I think this works perfectly. The story is a bit of a slow burn by RR standards but I like the pacing. We're finally getting to see some of the cracks in the veneer of the ultra-perfect song and dance that is Musical Land some 7-8 chapters in. I keep wanting to compare it to Attack On Titan for some reason despite the two having absolutely nothing in common. But there's a grit that hides behind the facade of the story and I like it a lot.

Style & Grammar:

I wouldn't say these were weak, just a few problems I noticed that would occasionally detract from my immersion. Some repetitive word use made a few paragraphs and sentences feel clunky but nothing that can't be fixed with editing. There really wasn't much for me to harp on. I will say that the style of the writing is spot-on. If the author was trying to go for a YA audience then they've done an excellent job. The writing is clear, concise, and understandable. You don't have to be big brained to understand what's going on or what's being conveyed. I didn't find myself having to go back and reread things for clarity and I count that as a plus in my book.

Conclusion:

If the author ever decides to take this story self-pub/trad-pub then I think they'd find that there is a larger audience for this kind of writing. It was fun yet spooky. I can't really say why it felt spooky for me, just that something about a magical chip that forces people to act one way makes me feel some type of way. A highly enjoyable read, I hope more readers give it a chance.

CloverCloverClover
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Warning: I will try to make this review as spoiler-free as possible, but I may drop some information here or there.

Story:

It seems like a bit of an oddball at first - a YA dystopia/historical fanfiction crossover? And early on, I thought the dystopia half of the combo was strong enough on its own, and wondered exactly why the historical fanfiction had to be  part of the equation. However, the historical fanfiction side is usually played for laughs, and I came to appreciate its presence in this fun little story. 

Basic rundown is: The dystopia part - while very real - is tongue-in-cheek, a nightmare world where people have to engage in constant musicals about their emotions, compelled by a chip installed in their heads, or face arrest. Art is elevated, science is looked down upon, and we follow the high school experience of Marie Curie, a girl with little artistic talent but passion for science, as she's sent to one of the top "Art" schools in Musical Land as part of a social experiment. 

Although it's a dystopia novel, you don't have to worry about things becoming too dramatic (at least, that's my impression as of Chapter 12), it's definitely on the more lighthearted side of dystopian settings. Historical references to famous figures are usually played for laughs as well. 

Style:

The writing style is straightforward, smooth, focusing on life in high school through the eyes of one character. No real flourishes or anything to the writing, but the focus makes the fiction easy to digest.

Grammar: No mistakes noticed here.

Character:

Sometimes I wonder if I'm missing some historical references as I'm reading this - are there parts of Marie Curie's personality that are references to her real life counterpart? Why is Willam Shakespeare a conspiracy theorist? Was the real life Sigmund Freud so pissed off about science? Poe as a gloomy goth is obvious, but I do wonder if I'm missing some more subtle references.  Anyway, characterization is much like the writing style: Straightforward, simple, and easy to digest.

Overall: 

This is a smooth story that I think I can tell the author is clearly having fun with, even if it does have some more dramatic/serious moments about dealing with poverty/high school bullying, etc. The basic concept is, again, very tongue-in-cheek. The straightforward, unembellished writing style serves the story well, I think - keeping things simple and focused, the author doesn't get tripped up in prose or descripton or switching between perspectives. It definitely got a chuckle out of me a few times, and I appreciate how easy it was to settle into the world. Not a masterpiece or anything, but definitely a fun story that's easy to get into.

Avery Light
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It's a reviiiieeeeewwww~ ♪

Reviewed at: Chapter 8

Musical land! A place of songs, dance, dreams, and happiness. Life is great! No more wars, people are happy, our MC just accepted to a new school for gifted children while she's not gifted (about average, academically of course). After a Disney movie musical introduction when he first arrived at Presley High, begins our slice-of-life story.

Beneath the all is well and good in the world, we got flashes something just might be wrong. The signs are there, even from early chapters. Everybody wear chips? Missing memories before the war? Hobos are bad? Mega corporation? Singing music is mandatory? I don't know about you guys but to me, there's definitely something wrong here. But we don't know what though, so that's the story is all about.

We see the world from the eyes of Marie Curie, the MC (holy hell, her initials are also MC :p). She's very relatable and easy to slip in her shoes. As plastered in the tag, this is a dystopian story so young Marie here would need to step up her game in a not-friendly not-hostile environment.

To me, the mystery is the best thing about this story. Pity only a little of it is given in the early chapters. If you want to dive into a truly unique world, give this story a read.

Sara Mullins
Overall
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This story had me hooked from the first chapter. That along with the title is all you really need, but I'll go into further details below.

Style: The pages are primarily focused on dialogue and internal thought. The story also remains digestible throughout with a fair balance being struck between me be my things along and pausing to break events and emotions down. Descriptions of scenery are somewhat sparse, but it actually works here since the general settings are so easy to contextualize. 

Story: The school slice of life parts of the story are just as effective as the building dystopian mystery. They work well together because the story gets the reader to care about the characters before starting to truly plunge them into the darker side of their world. As of the chapter I'm reviewing at, things are picking up majorly, and it's very exciting. 

Grammar: Nearly perfect. It's a very well-written story. 

Character: Marie is an incredibly sympathetic protagonist. The other historical figures are integrated into the story in creative and effective ways. The interactions are hilarious, heartfelt, and a major draw. Edgar and Billy are major standouts, and the budding romance between some of the characters is written in a thoughtful and mature but still sweet way that's appreciated. 

Just read it. It's thoroughly enjoyable, and you won't regret it.

VMJaskiernia
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One of the most interesting stories I've ever read

Reviewed at: Chapter 12

This is one of the most interesting stories I've ever read. If you want a one-sentence tl;dr, it's Clone High mixed with La La Land. And it.. works.

Great fun odd story. We follow Marie, Marie Curie (yes, the famous one), as she begins high school. Except the world is not our own. This is a universe where, due to a chip implaneted in one's brain, everyone is basically living in a musical. It takes the tenants of musicals (when there's to much emotion to speak, sing; and when there's too much emotion to sing; dance) as an actual force. If your emotions are high enough you will begin to sing and dance.

And that's all well and good if you're a theater kid. But this is Marie Curie and she's more into science.

Yet she got into the best school in the land. And now has to deal with her passions, which were always stated to be the root of evil and war, while not being able to sing, in this school devoted mostly to singing.

The chip and forced implantation is hinting as much darker stuff. You cannot force a world to be good, and end all wars with singing and dancing. I think we're going to get into more cynical things eventually.

We get mentions of basically every single artsy or sciencey historical figure. They all live in the same time, and the historical accuracy is basically "famous name - did art/science thing.' So it's very much a weird Alternate Universe. Marie is a good character too, and she embodies a nervous teen girl and needing to start out in a new place where she doesn't fit in.

Grammar's great.

I really like this story. If you have any appreciation for musicals, or school-life, or just want to see Bob Ross as a teacher, give it a read.

Luxmes
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A chilling musical take on the dystopian genre.

Reviewed at: Chapter 7

This was done as part of a review swap but, as usual, I’m as objective as one can be.

 

- Style:

The style is efficient yet not dry, but the best parts are the musical passages. At first, I wasn’t sure how the author would handle the writing of a musical, but it’s done well enough to really immerse you in it.

The description in themselves are a good match with the theme of the story, as the artistic world we’re presented with appears genuine enough to be nice to read, which in turn make you question the objective of it, as this is a dystopic tale. Creepy feeling ensues.

- Grammar:

Nothing to say.

 

- Story:

A very classical dystopian theme, well served and supported by the other aspect of the story. It’s clean and the twist of musical still give a fresh coat of paint to an old yet trusted concept.

 

- Characters:

All characters are technically rip-off from reality, but this doesn’t serve the story badly. Quite the opposite, in fact, since it gives you an instinctive feeling of what the characters are just by reading their name, with yet enough mystery to be kept interesting.

The MC is quite relatable in her emotions, and her reactions help to highlight the parts where this false utopia’s gears screech.

 

- Overall:

Appearing niche, I found this novel being a good fresh take on the dystopian concept while not being too dark either. I don’t know how it’ll turn out, but so far it balanced creepy feeling with relatable characters (in particular the MC) and a strange silly world.

This has been written with the heart, you can feel it.

 

- Stray thoughts :

This work exudes a soft kind of melancholy, or maybe it just touches something personal, but still.

The cognitive dissonance between musicals and dystopia create a somewhat burlesque yet fearsome atmosphere.

I’m really not good with dystopia since I read 1984.

I like all the tiny ideas that are produced by thinking about the setting logically, then pushing the logic farther and farther, like the fact that people can’t be forced to sing in metro stations, or the 6 in 1 dancing shoes.

I like Poe. I which he and the MC will become friends ^^

I’ve more swaps to do so I only read up to chapter 7, but I put this in my reading list for later. This doesn’t happen often, in particular with niche novel.

Egar Gnizama
Overall
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A different type of read

Reviewed at: Chapter 9

I don't usually enjoy reading about high school life, as it resurfaces dark memories, but Musical Land left me chuckling every time another historic character surfaced.

Well written chapters follow Marie Curie as she makes her way through school life at the prestigious Presley High. Famous characters come in the forms of teachers and student alike, so don't be surprised if you catch Dickinson teaching Poe.

Her tough natured friend Sophie is on hand to help her friend with the challenge that is school life and she could use a few more mentions if I'm being honest, but that's just my opinion. Other side characters like her father are also written in really well and everyone has the opportunity to be heard and remembered.

I gave the story 5 stars for both grammar and character score as I thought they were written wonderfully. Not been used to the school life genre though I gave the style a 4, this may improve if I read more of the chapters later down the line and I also gave it a 4 for the story itself for the same reason.

I thought it was great reading material and I hope you continue to bless us with your fantastic writing.