The Memory Thief is a standalone young adult fantasy. This review will be spoiler-free.
In the city of Craewick, memories reign. The power-obsessed ruler of the city, Madame, has cultivated a society in which memories are currency, citizens are divided by ability, and Gifted individuals can take memories from others through touch as they please.
Seventeen-year-old Etta Lark is desperate to live outside of the corrupt culture, but grapples with the guilt of an accident that has left her mother bedridden in the city’s asylum. When Madame threatens to put her mother up for auction, a Craewick practice in which a “criminal’s” memories are sold to the highest bidder before being killed, Etta will do whatever it takes to save her. Even if it means rejoining the Shadows, the rebel group she swore off in the wake of the accident years earlier.
To prove her allegiance to the Shadows and rescue her mother, Etta must steal a memorized map of the Maze, a formidable prison created by the bloodthirsty ruler of a neighboring Realm. So she sets out on a journey in which she faces startling attacks, unexpected romance, and, above all, her own past in order to set things right in her world. (Synopsis from Goodreads)
Captivating. That’s the only way to describe this book. From the very first sentence I was hooked. I picked it up and didn’t put it down until I finished the final page.
The world that Mansy created was unlike any other world I have ever read, but there wasn’t a lot of information on the world itself. Mansy gave us just enough to get us into the story, but never added more. I have mixed feelings about that because I want to know so much more about this world, but at the same time, I was able to read and fully understand and picture what was happening without more information. So it really wasn’t necessary.
The idea of using memories as currency caught my attention when I read the description. Trading memories and learning new skills through this process is so creative.
Unfortunately, the story felt very jumpy. There were time jumps, as short as a few minutes or hours, but they did not flow the way I would have hoped. This made it hard to follow at times. There were also a lot of flashbacks, which pulled me out of the story too much. I love the occasional flashback, but there were just too many for my taste.
The whole story was only a few days. In those few days, there was so much that happened and extremely strong bonds were formed. I found myself questioning why the characters bonded so quickly. It just didn’t feel believable.
With that saying, there were several twists that happened throughout the course of the novel that I did not see coming. I love when a book can catch me off guard and then proceed to show me that I had all the clues I needed to figure it out before the twist was revealed. I think that shows real skill on the authors part.
Now onto the characters. Etta. Reid. Ryder. Etta was the main character and I thought it was fun to be in her head. She had a rough background that was filled with regrets. Those regrets were what drove the story. She was determined and loyal. Her relationship with Ryder was one of my favorite parts of her character. I wish I had gotten more of it. And then there is Reid. I wanted to bad to love him and a small part of me had started to fall for him, but I closed the book feeling like I barely knew him. I wish we had been able to see more of his memories.
The ending was a little anti-climatic, but it was really cute. I found myself pretty satisfied with the ending.
I loved the “lesson” of the book. I’m not going to reveal what it was to keep this review spoiler free, but I think it is one that everyone needs to learn sooner or later. I loved watching Etta, as well as some of the other characters, learn this important lesson.
Overall, it was a fun, easy read. If you are looking for a quick and interesting ya fantasy, this might be one to check out. I ended up giving it 4 out of 5 stars. I know my review had several more negative points than positive ones, but I just couldn’t bring myself to give it a lower rating. There was something special about this book that kept me from putting it down.