I’ve been watching Mel Torrefranca’s YouTube channel for a while and she is so inspiring, so when I saw that her publishing house Lost Island Press was giving away free ebooks of her new novella, I had to download it.
About the Book:
Title: Memory Minefield
Author: Mel Torrefranca
Genre: YA, mystery/thriller, sci-fi
First line: “On a strange November afternoon, I woke up with my eyes already opened.”
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
“A seven-day pandemic results in less than one percent of the worldwide population forgetting everything.
Ari Cortez is one of eight memory loss victims from her high school. Although her parents and best friend promise to guide her down a seamless path of self-discovery, their facts about who she was contradict each other, and she struggles to trust them. When Ari finds a letter with risky instructions on how to get her memories back, she jumps on the opportunity.
Jeremy Sargo wakes up to discover that his best friend lost his memories and moved away. Struggling to deal with the sudden isolation, he plans a money-making scheme to distract himself by volunteering for paid research testing as a fake memory loss victim. Jeremy begins to enjoy this new persona, and he takes the scam one step too far.
When the government funds memory loss counseling as part of the Mental Health Initiative Act, Ari and Jeremy cross paths every Tuesday and Saturday afternoon. While Ari struggles to find her memories, Jeremy fights to keep his a secret. But it’s only a matter of time before their true identities are exposed.“
First of all: that opening line was killer.
This is the first one of Mel’s books that I have read, and I overall enjoyed it. I’ve been wanting to start reading more indie books, and this one was pretty fun.
The book’s concept of a “memory loss pandemic” was really intriguing, and I love how the plot centered around Ari trying to piece together the mystery of her own life through the people around her. You never think about how contradictory other people can be, and that’s what I thought was one of the most interesting themes of the book– when you have no sense of self, how can you rely on others to help you piece it back together? How can you trust them to know you better than you know yourself?
Framing this identity question as a mystery novel was a very creative choice, and I liked how there was both an external mystery– the question of who sent Ari the letter– and an internal mystery of Ari trying to regain who she was.
My favorite character was definitely Jeremy Sargo, especially since he seemed to be the most fleshed-out character in the story. We got to see several sides of him– his need for distraction, his recklessness and impulsiveness, and his relationship with his twin brother, Isaiah. I wish we had gotten more character development for Stella and Ari, but it is difficult to give lots of “screen time” to every character in a novella.
The writing style was clear, engaging and reflective, and I thought the book did a great job driving home the messages at the end as well as subtly throughout the story. There was also a lot of continuity and callbacks between scenes which I really enjoyed.
Overall this was a fun YA mystery novella though I wish it had been a little longer to give more time to expand upon the world and the characters. I would recommend it to someone looking for a quick read with a unique concept!
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