Montagues and Capulets, Sharks and Jets; now it’s the Mementi (with their genetically modified, storable memories) and the Populace.
At 17, Mementi Genesis Lee and friend Cora are out on the town, their primary worry escaping parental notice and keeping their memory-filled Link beads covered just enough for safety. Someone (suspicion falls on the Populace) has been stealing the Mementi’s prized objects and with them, entire lives: Without memory, “your mind would be empty, grasping at a past you no longer had.” Meanwhile, rival Mementi/Populace companies research memory options; large protests and the growing number of Populace in the Mementi’s designer city further increase community tension. And now Kalan, the “nice” Populace boy Gena keeps forgetting to remember, holds important information—can she trust him? For readers hooked on earbuds and constant social networking, the storyline should be intriguing, the ambiguities and plot twists reasonable. But it’s the sensitive handling of emotional details and the trauma of too much connection that make this a story of interest. The reactions to memory losses are painful and poignant; “I’m broken,” laments a Mementi. “I’ll never be the person I was going to be without those memories.” Well-selected Tennyson quotations set the mood for each chapter.
For anyone fascinated with thoughts of omniscience and total social connection—and who isn’t?—McArthur’s debut suggests fascinating and chilling possibilities. (Science fiction. 12-18)