Last Memoria by Rachel Emma Shaw

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The writing style and world-building make this one stand out as one of the more unique in my batch. It starts out by throwing you into the character’s world right in the middle of what’s essentially a break with reality. The main character, Sarilla, is able to take memories from other people but they don’t stay neatly organized in her mind – they overflow her brain-space and take over her reality making it almost impossible to have a grip on reality. It’s difficult for her to stay in the ‘present’ with so many people’s memories of the past fighting for space.

She and her brother are on the run, they are known as “memoria”, a group of people able to take memories and even peoples personas if they take enough identifying memories. They are feared, hated, and given a wide berth. She and her brother have very different outlooks on taking people’s memories. She abhors the idea, she considers it akin to murder when they take so much from someone they lose who they are. Her brother is addicted to it because taking memories creates a pleasurable rush and euphoria that drives people to madness. Where she is cautious and thinks of others, he is reckless and only thinks of himself. I immediately started to hate Rysen and have a lot of sympathy for Sarilla.

She and her brother escaped from the palace where they were once used as weapons of interrogation, and the Renford’s men have caught up with them, and at best he’s there to haul them back to the palace. They both have black tattoo like lines on the backs of their hands that expand when taking memories, all they have to do is touch someone and they can absorb whatever they want – and it’s why Sarilla always wears gloves. They are even able to sense the awareness of things like fungus – which is really neat. She’s able to tap into roots and plantlife and navigate that way which was fascinating.

The pacing was a little slow, but you get to know the characters and the world very well before the plot starts to take shape around 34%. Once I got to the faster paced portion of the book I flew through the entire thing in just one night in a single read.

This is a dark book that didn’t pull its punches. Characters died that you would have thought were safe, Sarilla’s life is just a hot mess that never lets up. This book isn’t so much dark as it is tragic.

This is a character driven book with two POVs, but it’s done differently than many other books. The first half is from Sarilla’s point of view, and the second half is from her love interest’s point of view…but he has had his memories erased. He’s also bisexual, so if anyone is looking for a bisexual male protagonist, this might be your jam. It was presented as no big deal so although the world building didnt specifically go into detail about how gay/bisexuality is handled in this realm, I inferred it was normal.

I am so torn about this book. It has so much promise. It’s so different. It made me feel things. Its also riddled with errors… whole words missing, wrong tenses used, and punctuation was often missing. Its such a shame. I’m not sure what to do with this one yet. I want a polished and clean contender for my semi finalists, but so far this is my highest rated book. With that in mind, its still in the race for now.

Ratings:

* Plot: 12.5/15

* characters: 13.5/15

* world building 12.5/15

* writing: 9/15

* pacing: 10/15

* originality: 12/15

* personal enjoyment: 8/10

Final score 77.5/100 –> 7.8/10 spfbo

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