The Memory Thief
By Lauren Mansy
Published October 1, 2019 by Blink
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.
The Memory Thief is a young adult fantasy with an interesting premise, but it just didn’t work for me.
This book has a great concept. In this world, memories are currency. The Gifted can take and give memories, and this talent is often abused. The idea of someone invading your memories, stealing them, and even profiting from them is creepy and fascinating. The Gifted can gain a talent or skill by stealing a memory. For example, the heroine, Etta, is a skilled fighter because of memories she’s stolen. This is all very cool, but the rest of the book didn’t hold up.
My biggest issue is that the pacing of the book felt off. There are a bunch of plot twists that come in quick succession in the middle of the book. Although they were cool twists, they didn’t have much impact because they happened so quickly and with characters that had just been introduced or hadn’t been well developed. The pacing is also an issue in the romance that develops between Etta and another character. It happens so quickly and then there’s a plot twist that might drive them apart, but since they had barely been together, it felt contrived.
I also had trouble keeping track of the various groups. There are the Gifted and ungifted, but also multiple other groups and they weren’t well defined. There were two groups introduced briefly with no information, and it wasn’t until I found a glossary at the end of the book that I was able to figure out who and what they were. I wonder if this book was originally much longer or intended to be more than one book, because there is so much compressed into 300 pages. It could have benefited from being a bit longer.
I received an ARC from the publisher through NetGalley.