Review: My Name is memory by Ann Brashares

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Daniel has been looking for the same girl for centuries. He first saw her in 541 AD. Since then, he has come across her in several of their future lives. He remembers her; she doesn't. In their current lives, Daniel and the girl, Lucy, attend the same high school. She is smitten by him but they do not get a chance to talk until prom night, when an incident at school puts the two of them in the same room. That night when they kiss, Lucy is frightened both by the images that come to her mind and by Daniel's insistence in calling her Sophia.

I was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed this book quite a lot. It is not exactly my usual genre, and there were some aspects that did turn me off. But in the end, I am truly glad to have read this book.

At the outset, this book accepts that when people die, their souls come back as a different person. Not exactly something I would believe in, so you can see why it is not my usual genre. I find it easy reading science, or steampunk, or dystopian fiction, but when it comes to souls and afterlife and rebirth, I usually go uh-uh. Although I was expecting to be bothered by that, I found it rather easy to accept the "principles" of life in this book. Maybe because there is no talk of religion or because there is no hand of God in any of these happenings. Far from it, it happens to be the accepted way of life, and very few of them retain memories from their old lives. Kind of like recycling - instead of paper, souls go through that process here.

Being as it is composed of fantastic ingredients, there will always be questions about how anything happens in this book - be it soul "recycling", or how Daniel's memory is intact but not many of the others'. I wasn't entirely satisfied with some of these answers, but Daniel himself admits to being unaware or unsure of them. Another thing that bothered me quite a lot, was the ease with which Daniel gave up his lives - most of the times for Sophia. Maybe if I knew that I will be born again, I may be just as lax, but it makes me cringe, when he does it just because he "loves" a woman with whom he hasn't spent much time together. The "love" Daniel feels for Sophia is fascinating, and when one has lived for centuries the way Daniel has, priorities probably take shape, and Daniel's must have been Sophia. But I would have appreciated to see a little more respect towards the life he had at the moment. This is a debatable point, and I have kept vacillating against and in defense of Daniel, but it makes me wonder, if we had all of eternity to live, would we be just as indifferent to life? (Somehow a part of me tells 'yes'.)

Daniel and Sophia's story is actually quite pleasing to read about. Although none of Sophia's "lives" initially falls for Daniel's insistence that he has known her for centuries, I'm sure my reaction would be far more outrageous than Sophia's. A story like this wouldn't be complete without a villain, and we have Daniel's brother (in one of his lives) take that role, due to a shared history in which Daniel's brother came off as the loser.

My Name is Memory is an adult book, but I was very disappointed with the writing. I found it too simplistic, sometimes repetitive, and almost always the two characters behaved like fifteen-year olds. The dialogue at many points was too cheesy. This is disappointing because this book has a good idea which Ann Brashares has executed well. If the writing was better, I would have enjoyed it more.

I understand that this is the first book in a trilogy, and sure, the battle is far from over. But much of this book is slow, since there is a lot of history doled out to show the emotional or spiritual connection between Daniel and Sophia. I expected an ambiguous ending, but I can't say I am exactly eager to grab the next book in the trilogy. The cliffhanger wasn't so much one. So while I may choose to read the next book some time, I won't be exactly impatient for it.

 

Check out this book published by Penguin (Riverhead Books) @ Goodreads, BetterWorldBooks, Amazon, B&N.

I received this book for free from the publisher.

16 comments:

mummazappa said...

great review! i have this on my list to read, hopefully i'll get to it soon.

Felicia the Geeky Blogger said...

I am still reading this, so far I like it but being out of my normal genre it hasn't hooked me as much as it some books do. I am enjoying it though :)

bermudaonion said...

Since I wasn't as crazy about the traveling pants books as everyone else and you think the writing in this one is simplistic, I think I'll skip it. Thanks for a thoughtful review!

Emidy said...

Fair review! It's too bad the writing wasn't good, but the concept sounds mildly interesting. I didn't know this is going to be part of a trilogy!

Aarti said...

Hmm, I think I will skip this one. No need to get myself involved in yet another trilogy! The premise reminds me a bit of Time Traveler's Wife. I don't know why, though...

Marce said...

This one intrigues me, I still want to try it. Thanks for the honest review.

Helen's Book Blog said...

Funny that this is an adult book since it sounds YA, especially if the writing isn't really up to par (not that YA books aren't usually, but you get my meaning).

Ash said...

The premise of this book sounds like something I would really enjoy so I'm disappointed to here there were quite a few flaws in the book. Maybe someone will write something similar but a little better!

Aths said...

Mummazappa, I hope you enjoy it. I'll be interested to hear your thoughts.

Felicia, that's precisely how I felt! I enjoyed it a lot, but in the end, it wasn't exactly something I would keep thinking about.

Kathy, I didn't even read the Traveling Pants books, though maybe someday...

Emidy, I would recommend giving it a try. It was fairly entertaining. Just not worth such a huge size.

Aarti, it strongly reminded me of The Time Traveler's Wife too. Both involve some element of time, meeting their different selves over time, and a love story, which apparently transcends everything else in their lives. Plus, in both cases, instead of trying to bond with any number of people around him, the guy goes looking for the girl each time. The girl is confused initially but then is all for it. Quite a lot of similarities, when you come to think of it, right?

Marce, I would recommend you to try it. It was fairly entertaining and I definitely liked it. Just didn't like it enough.

Helen, I totally get what you say. If this book had been meant for the YA audience, I would have rated it 4. Adding a few sex scenes shouldn't be the only criteria to direct a book to adults.

Ash, I sure hope so. I quite liked the whole idea. If this was a TV show I would have watched it. It was well worth my reading time. I just wish it was written better. This idea deserved a better rating.

christa @ mental foodie said...

Thanks for the honest review. I have to remember this may be slow when I read it (it's in the pile sitting behind me...).

Simplistic writing - sometimes I don't mind that (I am not into flowery/overly descriptive writing though :) so guess I'll see if it's even too simplistic for me :)

Aths said...

Christa, I'll be sure to look for your review once you read it. I do recommend that you read this book, since it is really entertaining!

The1stdaughter said...

Loved your review! I think you pretty much summed up all my problems with it and I'm kind of in the same boat...I want to see what happens with them, but I'm not extremely eager to pick up the next book. It was a bit to tedious of a read for me to really feel connected with it deeply.

Fabulous review!

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

I love your 2nd to last paragraph. Thanks for your honest review :)

Leslie (Under My Apple Tree) said...

I recently read and reviewed this book and liked it a lot. I agree that the writing style was a bit simplistic but that didn't bother me. I figured it was not intended to be literary. I liked the style of alternating chapters between past and present and the historical background.

Good point about Daniel being so flippant towards his lives. That bothered me too, although at one point it appears he does have some regrets.

Gwen@ChewDigestBooks.com said...

You brought up a point that I haven't yet in any other review, the way that he doesn't seem to value his current life. I hate to think of a world where life is so disposable that it doesn't matter.

Hmm, still on the fence about reading this one.

Aths said...

Danielle, at this point, I doubt I will even heed the release of the new book. I seem to not be too interested.

Juju, you're welcome!

Leslie, I did notice the regret that Daniel felt, but to me, that came way too late. This guy has been alive for so many centuries, and it was shameful to me that he felt the regret so late. I was especially disturbed by how he treated his parents in his previous life.

Gwen, you said it better than I did! I can't forgive a person who treats his life without respect, esp considering how many people don't have the same luxuries as someone. It was a helluva disturbing thing.