Feb 28, 2011

Review - Memento Nora by Angie Smibert

Memento Nora by Angie Smibert
April 1st 2011 by Marshall Cavendish Children's Books

From the Publisher:
Nora, the popular girl and happy consumer, witnesses a horrific bombing on a shopping trip with her mother. In Nora’s near-future world, terrorism is so commonplace that she can pop one little white pill to forget and go on like nothing ever happened. However, when Nora makes her first trip to a Therapeutic Forgetting Clinic, she learns what her mother, a frequent forgetter, has been frequently forgetting. Nora secretly spits out the pill and holds on to her memories. The memory of the bombing as well as her mother’s secret and her budding awareness of the world outside her little clique make it increasingly difficult for Nora to cope. She turns to two new friends, each with their own reasons to remember, and together they share their experiences with their classmates through an underground comic. They soon learn, though, they can’t get away with remembering.

Set 30-40 years in to the future, New York City isn't exactly paradise. Police patrol the city and there are mandatory curfews in place. People try to stay "glossy" by shopping from their cars and phones, but the truth is, unless you live in a compound with high security, the city is not the ideal place to live. After seeing a gruesome murder, Nora takes her first trip to the TFC - Therapeutic Forgetting Clinic. With one tiny pill, Nora can forget the incident ever happened. The TFC is the first time she meets Micah, a boy who spells trouble with a capital T. Micah lives in a seemingly abandoned building inhabited by the cities mutts, and at one point was homeless. He isn't exactly a boy you would want to take home to meet your father, but soon Nora and Micah, with the help of Micah's friend Winter, begin to wonder why everyone needs to have their memory erased at the TFC. Why would a city that abides to a curfew witness so many events that memories need to constantly be erased? Soon, with the help of memories they refuse to let go, they begin to make connections to the pill, city violence, and the TFC. Only problem is....who can they trust, and how can they pretend to be "glossy" when the world around them is literally being blown apart. 

Memento Nora is a great blend of violence, mystery, suspense, and romance. We aren't smothered with futuristic terms and devices. Instead, Smibert spends her time painting a dark and gloomy picture of a decaying New York City. Abandoned buildings, ram-shackled houses, and boarded up businesses are described with ominous detail. It is something no wants to see in the future. When she isn't horrifying us with descriptions of a destroyed city, Smibert spends her time shaping the personalities of three young people. Nora, Micah, and Winter seem to have few things in common, but when their lives overlap, they are unstoppable. Told from their point of view, we jump from the three friends perspectives at just the right moments to keep us staying tuned and the pages turning.

There are a few side characters, Winter's grandfather and Nora's mother, for example, that are notable in their own right. I loved the way Nora's mother's story unfolds through the eyes of her daughter, Nora. We sense something isn't quite right after her first confession at the TFC, but I didn't want to imagine what was eventually uncovered. Oh, the secrets...the lies! Not everything is predictable. This novel goes by quickly, it's not even 200 pages. I'll be honest, I wanted more, but I so love that this book is a stand alone. OR, I should say, could be a stand alone. Either way...it's a winner!

Sidenote: Book #2The Forgetting Curve is a go!

4.5 Stars