The Adaptation Watch: Dissonance

It may be a while before Erica O’Rourke’s book Dissonance hits the silver screen, but it was optioned by Envision Media Arts last year which means if a million things don’t go wrong, as can happen in Hollywood, then an interesting YA sci-fi adaptation is around the corner.  I mean “interesting” in the good way.  Not the “interesting” as in that first and only date I had in college with an Aussie who brought out the laundry list of what his future woman would or would not smell like after a shower.  Dissonance is “interesting” as in this adaptation will have sound editors scrambling to work on it.Dissonance

Dissonance follows the journey of Delancey Sullivan, a teenager who can walk between alternate realities, from rebel without a cause to rebel in dire need of a way to save her boyfriend and stop the Key World from falling apart at the seams.  Del is from a long line of Walkers, people who can travel from the Key World (think world as we know it) to the Echo Worlds where every decision we didn’t make sprouts a new branch and continues from there.  Such as, the world where you had kissed that boy you invited to formal instead of chickening out, or where you hadn’t caught the game winning out in that notorious softball game, or where you had chosen to wear that camouflage dress with Doc Martens vs. playing it safe in blue velvet.  (Question and potential outcomes I ponder to this day.)

Del travels to these Echo Worlds by listening to each world’s frequency.  However, things fall apart for her when she accidentally cleaves an Echo.  Aka, she destroys a world and a whole heck of a lot of people.  You’d think that’d be enough to rival Katniss’s PTSD, but there’s no proof people in Echo Worlds are real so Del focuses on comforting herself by hooking up with her Key World crush’s echoes.


Don’t worry.  It isn’t as complicated as it sounds.  Or perhaps it is, as O’Rourke scattered “text book” definitions and theories at the start of chapters to clarify her world-building terms like Walkers, Originals, the Consort, Baroque events, cleaving, and more.  The book captured my attention well, but sometimes I did find myself rereading paragraphs trying to follow the science behind the fiction.

Also, sound plays a large role, which can be a very tricky element to capture well on paper.  This is one reason why I think the book will be a great adaptation.  It capitalizes on the YA genre and has a sprinkling of romance in it with a heavy dose of teenage rebellion, but it adds to it the element of sound.  In most films sound is supposed to enhance a scene but not call attention to itself.  If there is a loud explosion, it matches the Tie-fighter blowing up on screen.  In Dissonance the worlds have varying frequencies and sounds that Del listens to.  I’m very curious how this will play on screen – or more accurately through theater speakers.  It’ll be a delicate balance to ensure the representations of the worlds are unique but not annoying.

It’ll also be hard to maintain audiences’ sympathy towards Del come the end of the film.  In the book she turns on my favorite character, and I wasn’t always 100% team Del throughout the story.  She’s pretty selfish, a trait pointed out by a few characters.  However, with the right screenplay and solid casting this issue could be resolved – and not in the Divergent let’s scrape the film and try our hand at a TV show way.

Dissonance will be adapted by YA paranormal author and TV writer of American Heiress, Jennifer Quintenz.  According to The Hollywood Reporter, she will also produce the film along with Lee Nelson and David Buelow of Envision Media Arts.

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