Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Month of Lost Memory

by Cat Patrick

It seems as though June is the month of lost memories. I’m not making some philosophical statement; it’s just that I recently reviewed Before I Go to Sleep, an adult title out of HarperCollins and am now looking at Forgotten, a teen read about memory from Hachette. Both are debut novels, and both deal with characters that lose their memories when they go to sleep. Fortunately for me the similarities end there.

London Lane is a 16-year-old girl who cannot remember what happened the day before. Every morning she must read through a pile of notes detailing minor things such as homework and clothing, and major things like her boyfriend and why her best friend isn’t speaking to her. The thing is, London might not know about yesterday, but she does remember what is going to happen tomorrow. London remembers the future. Once the future becomes the past she forgets it. So, when she has no forward memory of her boyfriend Luke and when she starts to become plagued by dark and disturbing nightmares, she must recover her past to try and save her future with Luke.

Convoluted concept I know, but it actually works fairly well. The author draws out the revelation of London’s affliction so that the reader knows there is an issue, knows it deals with her memory, but isn’t quite sure what is really going on. Just waiting for that reveal was entertaining by itself. I really like the unique idea of memory as presented here, I have never read a book where the character only remembers forward and I loved Patrick’s ingenuity in creating such a misery. What a brilliant idea!

Unfortunately, while the idea is imaginative and unique, the plotting falls short. The why or her misfortune is answered—sort of; enough to somewhat mollify my curiosity, if not answer all of my questions. The problem is that Patrick throws in this mystery—why she can’t remember Luke from the future, her disturbing nightmares—but she forced the revelation, it spews forth quickly and is fixed far too easily. There is a very deus ex machina feel to the second half of this ending; it’s too convenient, too loose in its conception, and too formulaic for such a fascintating plot.

Endings can make or break a book. If done well, the book is brilliant, if done poorly and brilliant book can become mediocre. This is the case with Forgotten. I think teens will enjoy the love story, and those who are not too discerning will not mind the suddenness of the revelations and resolutions, but with the bevy of fully formed teen novels lurking around on bookshelves Forgotten just might find it’s name to be prophetic of it’s reception.

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