Let's do another!
The Memory Thief by Bryce Moore
Published: September 20th, 2016 by Adaptive Books
Genre: MG Fantasy
Page Count: 245 in the ARC, but I believe the finished version will have 256.
Part of a series? I don't think so, but I could be wrong. I have no information saying it will be part of a series, though.
Got via: The publisher sent it to me along with a few other things for review consideration.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound
Summary (from goodreads): After witnessing another one of their parents' public fights, twin brother and sister Benji and Kelly wander off at the local county fair. Benji runs into a group of bullies and escapes into a tent called The Memory Emporium, where he meets a strange old man inside named Louis. The old man shows him a magically vivid memory of a fighter pilot, in the hopes of getting Benji to pay to see other memories Louis has collected from people over the years.
Benji quickly realizes the ability to take memories could help his parents stop fighting with each other, and he asks Louis to teach him how to become a Memory Thief. But Louis isn't the only person with the ability to show and manipulate memories. There's also the mysterious Genevieve, a Memory Thief with much more nefarious motives.
Benji learns how to manipulate memories himself, but having that power comes at a cost to his family, and possibly to his own mind as well. Genevieve’s powers get out of control as she steals more and more memories from people in town—including Benji’s sister, Kelly. Benji must learn to use this newfound power, as he is the only one able to stop Genevieve.
Review: While it's not going to be in my top ten or anything, this is a solid little book that I didn't really have any problem reading. It's not over the top wow amazing, but it's perfectly serviceable, and an enjoyable read. I definitely think there are things it could have done better, and I'll get into those things, but it wasn't bad by any means, and my feelings in general are satisfied. Let's jump into the rest of the review.
Plot Talk: The plot is a very strong part of the book. There's tons of action, but time for quiet moments, and it doesn't lag at all. It's described well in the summary so I'm not gonna repeat that, but the plot works well for the genre and the age it's aimed at. The only thing I kind of wish was that more of the plot had been propelled by Benji's mistakes, and not just his sister. It feels like Kelly spends a lot of time holding the, if you'll excuse the ableism in the expression, Idiot Ball, and a lot of the book's plot is Benji fixing her mistakes. Considering her character does very little to actually advance the plot in the book, it's not my favourite thing.
Characters: The plot complaint pretty much holds up here. I wish Kelly had had a little more character than just, you know, a Living MacGuffin, since she doesn't do anything besides get the plot going by being reckless and messing things up. While the villain is female, and that's neat, there's not a lot here for sympathetic female characters. Honestly, I really wish the author had gone for duo POV alternating between Benji and Kelly. It would have been really interesting to show more of the story, and would have given Kelly a larger role in general.
Benji is fine as a character and as a narrator. At times I thought his voice didn't ring entirely true in a "kid" way, but for the most part it was fine. Honestly though he's pretty standard fare for white boys this age in this genre. There was nothing I hated about him, but there was also nothing I found really exceptional or super special. He definitely could have been a little more interesting, or different in some way, but he's fine.
PG-13 stuff: I actually think some of the stuff of Benji and Kelly's parents fighting could be upsetting to readers who have had parents fight like that. It's pretty true to reality, and some of the things Benji's dad says and thinks are really out of line and honestly a little misogynistic. I found it a little uncomfortable. There's also a little violence (not from the parents), but nothing extreme.
Cons, complaints, bad stuff, etc.: I think I covered it? The voice doesn't always ring entirely true for a kid and I would have liked more agency from Kelly. The book is also super white, completely straight, lacking in any kind of real disability rep, and the only fat characters are unsavory characters who are quite negative. It's very... standard, honestly.
Cover comments: Great cover! It's very colourful and vibrant, and actually shows a scene that happens in the book. I loved that as a kid, and still think it's nifty.
Conclusion: I don't think this blows other books in the category out of the water, but for the most part it's fine. I adored the descriptions of the memories, and over all it's got kind of an Inside Out meets the Giver thing going on, minus the dystopia. It's a fun book, and I think kids would enjoy it. Not much more to it than that! Three out of five roses.
- I could make a metaphor out of how Benji acts when he takes his parents' memory of anger being like what happens when kids are expected to handle adult issues. It's clever.
- Benji and Kelly's parents expect them to use payphones instead of giving them cellphones because they worry about the kids getting in trouble online or something. One, you can get cellphones designed for kids that have limited features. Two, there are parental controls in general. Three, where are these magical 2016 payphones??? I found it bad enough when they were magical 2009 or 2011 payphones, but 2016? I don't understand this.
I think that's it!
Peace and cookies,