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Set Adrift

Lianu Liu’s debut novel, The Memory Key, examines what might happen if you can’t forget anything—the blissful or the miserable.

Set Adrift

BOOK REPORT for The Memory Key by Liana Liu

Cover Story: Computer Sciencey
BFF Charm: Natalie Imbruglia
Swoonworthy Scale: 4
Talky Talk: Stream of Consciousness Lite
Bonus Factor: Enemistry
Relationship Status: Let’s Be Acquaintances

Cover Story: Computer Sciencey

Before I switched majors in college*, I took one computer science course. I barely scraped by in that class, and still have the occasional nightmare about it. This cover looks like it could have been the cover of one of our textbooks, albeit with a little more flair than they actually had.

*Started in mechanical engineering … ended up double majoring in English and journalism.

The Deal:

In a time not too far removed from our own, an epidemic of an Alzheimer’s-like disease called Vergets has spread through the country, effecting not only the old, but nearly the entire population. Enter: the Memory Key, a computer chip that, once implanted into your brain, mimics your natural memory-storing abilities and keeps Vergets at bay.

In a freak incident, Lora Mint hits her head. Her memory key, which she’s had since she was four-years-old, starts malfunctioning, and she can suddenly remember everything that has ever happened to her. Including some suspicious new facts about the night before her mother—a prominent scientist who worked on the memory key—died.

BFF Charm: Natalie Imbruglia

Although Lora, on the surface, seems like a great girl—she’s loyal, kind, intelligent and fun—when her memory key gets damaged, she starts to remember every little thing she’s ever experienced, including the many times she gets into fights with her best friend, and the many times her best friend has been not so best friendly. It’s said that bad memories often overshadow the good, and this is definitely the case with Lora. I’d be fine hanging out with her when she’s her normal self, but having someone remember every time I’d ever been rude or insensitive, even if I didn’t mean to be, and hold that against me, would be really hard.

Swoonworthy Scale: 4

You might think, in a book with not one, but two love interests*, the swoonworthy factor might be higher than a 4. However, The Memory Key isn’t really a kissing book—you’re welcome, Fred Savage—so much as it is a thriller. There are a couple of scenes in which the swoon ramps up, but it all took a back seat to the main plot.

Talky Talk: Stream of Consciousness Lite

A book written from the point of view of a protagonist with a malfunctioning memory has the potential to be a difficult read. (Think Memento.) And at first, The Memory Key can be a bit confusing, particularly when Lora can’t control when and where the memories come, and they’re interwoven into the present as though they’re actually occurring. Lora also thinks in short, choppy sentences that often repeat themselves, which can be a bit jarring. (Since this is Liana Liu’s debut novel, I’m not sure if this was a style choice for this book, or if this is just how she writes.) By the end of the novel, however, Lora gets a handle on her memories, which makes it easier to determine what is past and what is present, and makes for a smoother read.

Bonus Factor: Enemistry

Even though it wasn't super swoony, y’all know that I can’t resist a relationship built on enemistry. (And y’all know that I can’t resist including a nod to The 100 in pretty much every post if I'm able. #cantstopwontstop)

Casting Call:

Michelle Ang as Lora

And although I didn’t mention him in this review—to avoid spoilers—I have to cast:

Ezra Miller as Tim

Relationship Status: Let’s Be Acquaintances

Our date was good, Book, but—ironically—not all that memorable. I’m sure that, a few years from now, I’ll look back and have a general good feeling about us, but I hope you don’t get offended if I forget most of the details.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from HarperTeen. I received neither a private dance party with Tom Hiddleston nor money in exchange for this review. The Memory Key is available now.

Mandy Curtis's photo About the Author: Mandy is a small town girl living in a nerdy world, or—if you want to get literal—an editor/writer living in Austin, TX. In addition to yearning for YA books—the more dystopian or fantastical, the better—she can also be found swooning over superheroes, dreaming of The Doctor and grinning at GIFs.
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