Monday, December 09, 2013

Book 111: My Name is Memory

I'd been picking this up and putting it back down at the bookstore for months, and finally changed my mind when I found a $4 copy.  The main reason I kept coming back is because the premise behind the novel reminded me of The Gargoyle, which was incredible, moving and heart-wrenching.  I wasn't entirely sure if I wanted to read a novel directed at adults by a YA author - I know it's a weird prejudice to have because I actually enjoy some YA but I just remember how much I disliked R.L. Stine's first attempt at a more adult novel, and it has made me skeptical of others making the switch from one age group to another.  However, the story idea ultimately overcame my prejudices.  Daniel, one of the two main characters, remembers his previous lives, and in those lives, one particular woman or girl has reappeared again and again, though she doesn't remember their previous lives.  Once again, their paths have crossed, now in modern times, and he tries to convince her of their shared past.  The Gargoyle had a similar set up where a woman tells the novel's narrator of their previous shared lives after he is disfigured and burnt in a car accident.  Unfortunately this shared premise meant that this novel had rather high expectations to live up to, and there was no way it was going to be able to do this.  It's not a bad novel but Daniel is a hard character to like.
First off, in this novel, there is no question that Daniel really has lived several lives and just happens to carry the memory from life to life unlike most others.  He has run across a few others in his time that have a similar ability, but to him,  "the memory" begins with Sophia- he is not sure if that was his first life or not, but the first life he remembers contained her.  Sophia is the first name he knew for her, and this is what he calls her, even though she is a high school senior named Lucy when she appears in this novel.
The problem is that while I thought the historical bits were interesting, Daniel was not a sympathetic character.  He has tunnel vision, and revolves all his lives around finding or locating Sophia.  While this could easily be seen as romantic, it is also incredibly selfish because he refuses to ever truly connect with his families from one life to the other, always looking for something else.  A friend with "the memory" even points this out to him.  As a result, I didn't root for Daniel, though I enjoyed Lucy enough.  I just wasn't entirely convinced about their love, especially given the circumstances of their first meeting, and the fact that their lives never quite line up.
There is also a whole plot line about one of the other characters who has "the memory" and a vendetta against Daniel and Lucy that I could have done entirely without - a story about past lives should be exciting and strong enough to stand on its own without having to throw super villains into the mix.  The ending was just a bit over the top for me but I believe this was also supposed to be a trilogy at one point; however, I don't think the sales on this were strong enough to justify a sequel in the publisher's mind.  It had potential, and even the villain could have worked better but honestly I'm not upset that there isn't a sequel to wrap everything up - actually, I'm relieved because there is a part of me that would probably feel obligated to see how it ends.

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