I’m on a huge audible kick and this was on sale so I went ahead and got it — wow was this a mind bending experience.
This is almost like a blend between Sunshine of a Spotless Mind and Groundhog day. Memories shape our reality, and most people know that we don’t always remember things precisely, and two people living the same event could experience it two different ways and walk away with two different memories of the same thing. But, what happens when you experience living a whole lifetime that never happened? There’s something called False Memory Syndrome that’s randomly striking people, having them re-live vivid memories of a life they don’t have. It’s not just some grey feeling or muddied memories — they are precise… people remember the smell of home, the taste of an anniversary dinner with a spouse they never married. People have memories careers that just never happened. About 10 percent of people who come down with False Memory Syndrome commit suicide, and this is sort of where we step in with one of the main characters.
Barry’s a detective and he was called to a building because there was a woman on the 41st floor about to jump off. He gets there and realizes that the person is suffering from False Memory Syndrome. She remembers a husband and a kid and now it’s all gone, she’s living alone with a job she doesn’t like and she feels hopeless and hollowed out. What’s VERY odd about these memories is that they are tied to real people. The spouses the people remember having actually exist, and no one can figure out what’s going on. She went and found this man she was married to and he tells her he doesn’t know her. So, she jumps. Barry sets out on a mission figuring out what happened to her because this just isn’t adding up. He ends up getting entangled in a huge underground expensive project involving memories and the experience of time and what it means to bend around it and restart.
The other main character, Helena, is part of this underground project… but she doesn’t necessarily want to be. She was propositioned from a very wealthy man to build the invention of her dreams. He sees potential in her research even if other people aren’t interested in funding it. Her mother has Alzheimer’s and is slowly slipping away. She wants to try and map memories and store them to help with neurodegenerative disorders…. but the person funding this project turns out to have zero ethics. She finds herself trapped in a remote place, unable to escape, and having a multi-billionaire dictate what she can and can’t do.
Things started out sort of slow, I was debating DNF’ing, but omfg I’m glad I continued on. The set up does take a while, but the last third of the book was one of the more mind bending experiences I’ve had with a book in a while. It probably took a ton of time to plot all of this out.
Since this book relies on surprises and whatnot, that’s all I can really say about the plot of the book.
I found the characters compelling, I felt deeply for them when tragedy struck, and it happened over and over and over. This is a story just as much about dealing with personal loss and grief as it was a story about science and invention. He’s lost his daughter and has to live with the fact that he couldn’t save her — it’s something that’s weighed him down and it broke his marriage. I found Helena fascinating and I loved how much strength she had. She was able to shoulder so much weight and so much responsibility and guilt and stress. There was a romance in this that I found extremely compelling and heart-felt. I absolutely adore healthy relationships that are slowly built over time and this was that for sure.
The audiobook was excellent. The writing was excellent. I really loved this book.
- Plot: 14/15
- Characters: 13/15
- World Building: 12/15
- Writing: 12.5/15
- Pacing: 11/15
- Originality: 13/15
- Enjoyment: 9/10
Final Score: 84.5/100 4.5/5 stars rounded up.