Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), Miracle of the Concrete Jesus & Other Stories, and several Kindle ebooks.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Forgetting Curve

Last week, I received an advance reader copy of The Forgetting Curve, a dystopian YA novel by Angie Smibert. Published by Marshall Cavendish and available in bookstores on May 1st but available for pre-order from now, this YA novel is both sequel to Smibert's earlier book, Memento Nora, and a stand-alone in its own right.

From the back cover:

Aiden Nomura likes to open doors—especially using his skills as a hacker—to see what’s hidden inside. He believes everything is part of a greater system: the universe. The universe shows him the doors, and he keeps pulling until one cracks open. Aiden exposes the flaw, and the universe—or someone else—will fix it. It’s like a game. 
Until it isn’t. 
When a TFC opens in Bern, Switzerland, where Aiden is attending boarding school, he knows things are changing. Shortly after, bombs go off within quiet, safe Bern. Then Aiden learns that his cousin Winter, back in the States, has had a mental breakdown. He returns to the US immediately. 
But when he arrives home in Hamilton, Winter’s mental state isn’t the only thing that’s different. The city is becoming even stricter, and an underground movement is growing. 
Along with Winter’s friend, Velvet, Aiden slowly cracks open doors in this new world. But behind those doors are things Aiden doesn’t want to see—things about his society, his city, even his own family. And this time Aiden may be the only one who can fix things . . . before someone else gets hurt.

Like Memento Nora, The Forgetting Curve is set in a not-too-distant Big-Brotherish future, where memories can be erased or even replaced and everyone is watched. Nora, the main character in Memento Nora, is now a minor character who doesn't appear until late in the story.

The Forgetting Curve, using rotating first person narrators, is told from the viewpoint of Aiden, Winter, and Velvet.

 Aiden tells most of the story. He is the one who notices some things are not quite right—both in the world and his family. His cousin Winter, recently implanted with a chip behind her ear that she can't remember getting and having trouble with some memories, is reunited with her parents who've been in Japan. Or have they? Why can't they remember anything about Japan? Their friend Velvet, also sporting a chip she can't remember getting, writes songs and notices things. Together the three make some startling revelations. Two survive with their personalities—and memories—intact.

The three narrators are believable and likeable; Smibert has given each has a strong voice. Each has a particular talent and each is concerned about what's happening around them. While The Learning Curve is a fast and easy read, the themes run deep. This is an excellent book for discussion groups and would work well in the classroom. While it's written for teens, adults will also find the story compelling—especially if they read Brave New World and 1984 in high school.

In The Forgetting Curve, as in Memento Nora, Smibert opens the door to a disturbing future—a future that might be here sooner than we'd like. And she does it skillfully.



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