Shout out to the wonderful team at Fantastic Flying Book Club for hosting yet another amazing blog tour and allowing me to be a part of it! Click on the banner above for the tour schedule and to see everyone else participating this week. Seriously, that cover is giving me some vibes, though.
On to the post!
In the city of Craewick, memories reign. The power-obsessed ruler of the city, Madame, has cultivated a society in which memories are currency, citizens are divided by ability, and Gifted individuals can take memories from others through touch as they please.
Seventeen-year-old Etta Lark is desperate to live outside of the corrupt culture, but grapples with the guilt of an accident that has left her mother bedridden in the city’s asylum. When Madame threatens to put her mother up for auction, a Craewick practice in which a “criminal’s” memories are sold to the highest bidder before being killed, Etta will do whatever it takes to save her. Even if it means rejoining the Shadows, the rebel group she swore off in the wake of the accident years earlier.
To prove her allegiance to the Shadows and rescue her mother, Etta must steal a memorized map of the Maze, a formidable prison created by the bloodthirsty ruler of a neighboring Realm. So she sets out on a journey in which she faces startling attacks, unexpected romance, and, above all, her own past in order to set things right in her world.
Lauren lives in the Chicago area, where she’s spent years working with youth, from young children to high schoolers. When she’s not writing, Lauren is usually with her family or exploring the city to find the best deep dish pizza. The Memory Thief, which was inspired by Lauren’s own journey with her mother, is her first novel.
Disclaimer: I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you to NetGalley, BLINK and Fantastic Flying Book Club for this free copy.
Something about memories, man. I don’t know what I was really expecting when I saw the premise of this novel, and read the synopsis, but I don’t think I was expecting what I got. This book was definitely interesting, and the execution of the plot was okay, not terrible and not something completely novel. Well, maybe since I don’t recall reading a book that deals with memories are used as currency. It’s interesting though. What use would someone have with someone else’s memories, especially when that person is probably not alive anymore?
It looks like the most valuable memory – at least the memory that is “deemed” the most valuable by Madame, the reigning authority in this world – seems to be the one that causes the person the most pain. At least that was the vibe I got from the very beginning, and maybe that makes sense somehow to her. Having the power to allow these people she deems “criminals” to have to relive their worst memories before they are executed seems like a great punishment if I was pure evil, but then, why would that be valuable to someone else? A learning lesson? Something to get off on? I don’t really know.
Maybe it’s a good thing that I don’t live in this world. Who knows what memory I would have to relive.
It’s hard to have strong opinions about novels where the inspiration for it comes from a very personal and vulnerable moment in the author’s life. Sure, it could be easy to try to compartmentalize fact from fiction, the author’s life from the author’s imagined world, but I feel like there’s elements of this story that are so rooted in Mansy’s situation with her own mother that I feel almost unwilling to come at it from an objective perspective. I don’t even know if that makes sense. I feel like I have put myself in her shoes in the best way that I can, and seeing what Etta’s mom had to go through – even just a brief glimpse of it – and not knowing just how much of that stems from truth, really makes me feel emotional. Hurt almost, that this world could be so cruel to these people that aren’t and shouldn’t be deemed as criminals, but are labeled as such because of who’s in charge. That these people can’t even be helped in the proper way because of whatever reasons Madame wants to give.
I don’t even know if this makes sense, anymore. But I had a lot of feelings while I was reading this book, and a part of me knows that while it wasn’t perfect, I don’t know if it really was meant to be. It was an interesting take on the ideas of memories and their value, it was another story that deals with corruption, and the choices that Etta makes throughout this entire story just makes me sit in silence and wonder what exactly I would have done if I were in her shoes.
Honestly, I don’t know what I would do.
So this one may or may not be creative to you, but I’m just going to go with it because I didn’t feel like I could come up with the right playlist or dream cast for this novel. With how personal the inspiration was for this book, I didn’t feel right putting my own spin on it.
However, since this deals with memories, I’ll share with you a memory of mine, and you can tell me whether it would be deemed valuable enough to steal. Who knows? It may not be.
It was the first time I ever laid eyes on my brother.
I was young and stupid back then – a mere 11 years old – and I thought being at a friend’s birthday party was more important than being at the hospital while my mom was in labor. Yeah, I know I was young, but when I look back at it, the birthday party wasn’t nearly as important, especially knowing in hindsight that my mom went through a lot of complications during her pregnancy. Both her and my brother could have died.
But I digress.
I was with my dad at the birthday party. At this point, my mom and dad were already divorced for a while, and of course my mom couldn’t take me because she was close to giving birth. My mom called me and my dad, let me know that she was in the hospital, and my brother was going to be here soon. So we left, and my dad dropped me off at the hospital.
Somehow, my mom was able to get the doctors to allow me to be in the delivery room, so trust me when I say that I will never ever have kids after seeing what my mom went through. Nothing against kids, but I did not understand at the time why my mom was crying so hard while she was trying to give birth to my brother.
I will spare the graphic details, don’t worry.
Hours go by, but it’s finally time, and just like that, I have a baby brother. I couldn’t believe my eyes, seeing that there was this brand new life, this tiny human being that is somehow going to be a part of my life forever. It’s funny because I remember growing up asking my mom for a little brother, and she literally gave me what I wanted.
After the doctors cleaned him up and all that, I was the first to hold him in my arms. And that was the moment that I knew I would always love him, always cherish him, and move heaven and earth to do whatever I could for him. He was my little brother. He was going to depend on me to be a good big sister, and support him throughout his life. He was going to learn from me, even if I didn’t know how to be a big sister. But I knew that I wanted to live for him.
I don’t think he realizes this, and I don’t know if I ever told him, but he saved me.
And I have to remember that whenever things get so low, feel so helpless and I feel like there’s no point anymore, I have to remember that I made a decision to live for him, because I didn’t want him to ever grow up or live a life thinking that he was never good enough for me to stick around.
Sorry that this one was so long, fam. I didn’t think I was going to have a sappy monologue with my memory, but I’m glad I chose it, and I’m glad I let a little bit of myself out in this post. It’s one of the happiest moments I ever had in my life, and my brother is the one guy that I would do anything for. I love him so much, and he is so important to me.
Before I go and cry myself to sleep, thank you so much again for following me in this emotional journey, and for reading this super long post. Be sure to check out the others, and try the giveaway that’s being hosted by BLINK.
See you next time, fam.