Memory Thief by Lauren Mansy is the ultimate type of disappointing. The plot is super unique, the pacing moves right along, and the characters are instantly likeable. You can’t help but root for them throughout the story.
Mansy creates both villainous and protagonist characters that are complex, and well thought out. Her world building is amazing. This isn’t just in terms of the landscape but the caste society. The “magic” system in which memories are currency and whereby there are varying levels of ability that places them in a hierarchy of society. It is at once unique and an intriguing set-up with limitless possibility for the story.
Thank You to Blink Publishing and Edelweiss for an ARC in exchange for an honest review
This is what makes Memory Thief so disappointing. It never fulfills that potential. Once you get into the plot, the characters become frustratingly flakey. They become half-wits. At once wholly untrusting to completely gullible at the drop of a dime. Their reactions to traumatic situations become completely nonsensical. A character dies and another reacts as if they found out a dress is out of stock. It would be laughable such a great premise wasn’t being wasted.
Secondly, the idea behind stealing other’s memories as currency, along with the varying levels of abilities to do so becomes incredibly muddy. Truthfully, I was quite confused by it once I was knee-deep into the plot. I kept hoping it was just me or that there was some grand reveal/twist coming. But it never did. There were times that not just memories but *abilities* seemed to be stolen and then times when memories were given to others (and that is ability driven but it was never flushed out- it just happened and boom- that’s a new plot point that is never actually introduced).
Plus, Etta, the main character is having either flash back memories or fake memories. I say either because the author never makes it clear. And again, I kept hoping that was a part of some great reveal except I don’t think it ever was. And I say I don’t think because I’m still not really sure. Maybe I just missed it. I’m not sure. Seriously. I couldn’t spoil it if I want to because and let me repeat myself, I HAVE NO CLUE WHAT WAS HAPPENING ON THAT FRONT. I’m not even sure if it mattered, at the end of the day or it just kind of was.
And because of all of this? The whole point of the book- Etta saving her mom kind of gets lost and you start not even really caring because you don’t understand anything else going on in the book. The side characters unbelievable reactions/feelings. The confusion of the magic system that completely hooked you to begin with and how the whole thing because a muddy mess just takes away from the main character’s journey- to save her mom. If the author is just going to do whatever, whenever then what does anything even mean, anyway?
Maybe it is one of those books where YMMV (YMWV?). The premise, the world/caste/ magic system is incredibly unique and so maybe others will get a lot more out of this than I did. Maybe it is me and not the book. I don’t think so, to be honest. But maybe it is and I kind of hope that others will enjoy it. If for no other reason than I’d hate to see this idea go to waste on a really confusing follow-through.