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.
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I received this book for free from the publisher.