Monday, July 18, 2016

Book review: All Is Not Forgotten, by Wendy Walker


Title: All Is Not Forgotten
Author: Wendy Walker
Release date: 14th July 2016
Genre: Thriller
Publisher: HQ
Source: ARC from publisher

Description: You can erase the memory. But you cannot erase the crime.

Jenny’s wounds have healed.
An experimental treatment has removed the memory of a horrific and degrading attack.
She is moving on with her life.

That was the plan. Except it’s not working out.
Something has gone. The light in the eyes. And something was left behind. A scar. On her lower back. Which she can’t stop touching.
And she’s getting worse.
Not to mention the fact that her father is obsessed with finding her attacker and her mother is in toxic denial.

It may be that the only way to uncover what’s wrong is to help Jenny recover her memory. But even if it can be done, pulling at the threads of her suppressed experience will unravel much more than the truth about her attack.

My thoughts: I've read a few thrillers over the past year and file I find them fast reading and a good change from what I normally read, they don't tend to stand out very much. All Is Not Forgotten felt different, for a couple of reasons. 

Number one: the narrator. At the start of the book, you might think it's a 3rd person, omniscient narrator. But very quickly you learn that someone specific is telling the story, and that got me interested: who would know what this person knows about Jenny? And if it's a character telling the story, how many strands of the picture can they really know about? You do find out a couple of chapters in and I think it's a perfect person to be telling a story like this. I also enjoyed that while you are mostly getting the full story, as you get further in, I questioned the reliability of the narrator more and more.

Number two: The basic premise of a treatment that could block the memory of something traumatic, and the questions that come up around the use of something like that. The decision to give Jenny a medicine that will wipe out the memory of her rape is taken while she's unconscious. It was never her decision but her parents thought it was best. That's a topic on its own, and is dealt with a little bit, but the main concern of the story is on what the effects of the treatment are. Jenny can't move on, even though the memory is blocked - quite possibly because the memory is blocked. Certain things - smells, sounds - make her body react in fright but she doesn't remember why those things are setting off the panic.

The book is based around this exploration of consequences and I found that really interesting. I will say, the first chapter is gruesomely detailed and I felt physically sick reading it. Push past that, or skip it altogether - you really don't need to read it for the rest of the story to make sense. After that, it's a very fast read, exploring the treatment and how other aspects of the family's life are pulled apart by the consequences of it. It was a very interesting read. I'm going to give All Is Not Forgotten 7/10.

~Ailsa

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Book review: Fahrenheit 451


Title: Fahrenheit 451
Author: Ray Bradbury
Genre: Science Fiction (Traditionally, although today most people would say dystopian)
Publisher: HarperVoyager
Source: Free copy via the publisher

Description: Guy Montag is a fireman. His job is to burn books, which are forbidden, being the source of all discord and unhappiness. Even so, Montag is unhappy; there is discord in his marriage. Are books hidden in his house? The Mechanical Hound of the Fire Department, armed with a lethal hypodermic, escorted by helicopters, is ready to track down those dissidents who defy society to preserve and read books.

The classic novel of a post-literate future, ‘Fahrenheit 451’ stands alongside Orwell’s ‘1984’ and Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’ as a prophetic account of Western civilization’s enslavement by the media, drugs and conformity.

My thoughts:
*contains spoilers*

I've wanted to read this for a while, as it's one of those stories everyone references and sounds like it was a significant milestone in the genre. I liked the premise: books are banned and firemen have the job of burning them.

I was pretty disappointed.

From the first page, the writing is overly flowery, using five words where one would do. It turns out Guy Montag, the fireman, is married to an idiot zombie, who is attempting suicide one day and completely dismissing the events the next. He meets a strange girl and starts to question thing, but it quickly becomes clear that he was questioning and acting on those questions before that meeting, after all. He runs away, finds book keepers in the wilderness, then the city is blown up. Yes, Bradbury shows a future which is looking more and more possible every year, with superfast cars, surround television and atomic warfare, but it is the setting that is the interesting part. To me, the story itself was not.

I give Fahrenheit 451 4 stars out of 10.
 

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