Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Memory Key by Liana Liu

Series: Standalone

Genera(s): Dystopian Sci-fi/Mystery

Subjects: memory, technology, death, grief, near-future

Setting: A town called Middleton. Somewhere in the middle of the U.S. Kansas?

POV/Tense: 1st person POV, present tense: Lora Mint

Age/Grade Level: Teen

Length: 356 pgs.

HC/PB: Hardcover

List Price: $17.99

Publisher: HarperTeen

Summary/ product description: “In a five-minutes-into-the-future world, a bereaved daughter must choose between losing memories of her mother to the haze of time and the reality-distorting, visceral pain of complete, perfect recall.

Lora Mint is determined not to forget.

Though her mother’s been dead for five years, Lora struggles to remember every detail about her—most importantly, the specific events that occurred the night she sped off in her car, never to return.

But in a world ravaged by Vergets disease, a viral form of Alzheimer’s, that isn’t easy. Usually Lora is aided by her memory key, a standard-issue chip embedded in her brain that preserves memories just the way a human brain would. Then a minor accident damages Lora’s key, and her memories go haywire. Suddenly Lora remembers a moment from the night of her mother’s disappearance that indicates her death was no accident. Can she trust these formerly forgotten memories? Or is her ability to remember every painful part of her past driving her slowly mad—burying the truth forever?

Lora’s longing for her lost mother and journey to patch up her broken memories is filled with authentic and poignant emotion. Her race to uncover the truth is a twisty ride. In the end, Liana Liu’s story will spark topical conversations about memory and privacy in a world that is reliant on increasingly invasive forms of technology.”

My Review:  I had no idea what kind off book this would be going into it. I really expected more sci-fi stuff, but what I got was a story set about 50 years in the future in which people had memory keys implanted into their brains as a precaution to Vergets disease.

The story did not feel futurist at all. It may as well been set in contemporary times because this memory key was the only technological innovation that was not something we had today. Maybe this disease had prevented other technological advances from being developed. Maybe it’s more of a alternate history story. I’m not sure. There’s no mention of tablets or smart phones. There’s a library with normal computers. There’s really not much world building. I’m disappointed in this, but I still enjoyed the story for the most part.

The narration was pretty fast paced. It was written in first person, present tense and wasn’t overly complicated or wordy. Sometimes there was too much repetition, but it worked. The flashback caused by the malfunctioning memory key cut into the story way too much, but not all were irrelevant. They fit into the plot. The plot was about a memory centered around the events before her mother’s death, and implicated that she may have been murdered or taken. The mystery story overtakes any sci-fi elements.

Some other interesting point on this story are the characters. Lora is half Chinese (Though the country is never specifically mentioned). Her mom’s parents immigrated to America. Her mother’s sister Aunt Austin is a congresswoman. Lora’s father is an “absentminded” literature professor. Lora’s best friend is Wendy and she’s always setting Lora up with her date’s friends. Lora used to have a crush on Wendy’s brother Tim. At the beginning of the book Lora meets a boy named Raul and later dates him. So there’s so romance, but it’s not a big part of the story.

This book has similarities to other near-future dystopian or sci-fi stories out there. I recommend this to those who enjoyed Elusion by Claudia Gabel, Uninvited by Sophie Jordan, Minders by Michele Jaffe, on Unwind by Neal Shusterman.

Cover Art Review: I love the hand rendered title treatment. The color scheme is nice. The cover is simple and clean.  

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