A vivid infusion of 1980s culture gives this near-future dystopia an offbeat, Philip K. Dick aura.
Her father’s recent death and the move from New Zealand to Toronto with her mother and sister in 1985 have left Freya Kallas seriously disoriented and plagued by headaches. Worse, her memories have puzzling gaps. She can’t recall her best friend Alison’s taste in music or how it felt to kiss her old boyfriend, Shane. Some events feel unreal, while others (like the guys who hit on her at parties, something she’s sure never happened before) don’t engage her. What do Freya’s dreams of living another life mean? Something is seriously out of joint, and Freya is sure the boy she spots on a school field trip has the answers she needs. Though she doesn’t know his name and he doesn’t recognize her, Freya, increasingly desperate, can’t let him go. A thicket of exposition slows the narrative briefly, but the pace picks up, and the action accelerates to a gripping climax. Sympathetic, well-drawn characters compensate for a rather flimsy instant dystopia and rubber science. The cultural homage is nostalgic fun, from Care Bears to MacGyver. But for delivering that uniquely ’80s flavor, nothing beats music.
Fans of the Smiths, Depeche Mode, Scritti Politti—this one’s for you. (Dystopian romance. 12 & up)