Nora lives in a world where evil is only an abstract concept, rather than a gut-wrenching reality. When she accidentally gets a front row seat to a tragic act of terrorism, her mother insists she make her first visit to the Therapeutic Forgetting Clinic (TFC) to pop a pill and fade back into the fog of forgetting. Instead, the fated trip unearths the many long-forgotten secrets that Nora never knew she'd lost. As the brutal truth comes crashing down around her, she realizes that the docile stupor has to end. Together with two other teen misfits, Nora dares to make her unforgettable story heard -- but the cost of remembering may be too steep.
Angie Smibert has plotted this short novel to perfection, moving at a brisk pace and sweeping the reader up in this dreary future as the action rapidly unfolds. The narrative style is original, with the three main characters -- Nora, Micah and Winter -- giving statements at the Therapeutic Forgetting Clinic before they are forced to surrender their memories forever. The abstract, sterile narration evokes a strong sense of hopelessness that befits the grim situation, and reinforces the unnerving world Smibert has built.
At the heart of the novel are the three teens, who are each endearing in their own way. Nora seems a little lost, but doesn't hesitate to take charge of her relationships and defy the pressures of her clique. She's a survivor, struggling against her horrific world. Micah is artsy, quirky and, unlike some arrogant heroes, a little unsure of himself. His narration is by far the most enjoyable. His voice seems honest and authentic, and I wish he had figured more centrally as a narrator. The romance that blooms between the two teens is simultaneously sweet and daring, pushing the confines of the social hierarchy in a believable way. It is not the center of the story, but works in elegant harmony with the larger themes that Smibert tackles. Finally, there's Winter, the brilliant (almost to the degree of madness) best friend whose past is full of tragedy, and whose narration is unpredictable and arresting. Though the rest of the characters feel a little flat, the trio hold the novel together and propel it forward to its bleak and thought-provoking end.
Disclosure: I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher. This did not affect my review in any way.
This novel hits shelves April 1, 2011! Click here to preorder Memento Nora by Angie Smibert.