Book of the Week: Unremembered by Jessica Brody

One of the authors I was privileged to meet at WonderCon was Jessica Brody, author of several young adult novels, the most recent of which is Unremembered.

I had already started the book when I met her but hadn’t gotten more than halfway through it. After meeting her, I was determined to go home and finish it, because she was a sweet author with wonderful insights and great writing advice.

I stayed up late Tuesday night, finishing the book and here it is for you all, my review of the first installment in the Unremembered Trilogy:

Unremembered by Jessica Brody 

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Genre:
young adult, romance, mystery, science fiction

Part of a Series?:
Yes. The first installment of the Unremembered trilogy. This book is the only one published so far.

You May Like if You Liked:
This one is kind of hard. I haven’t read anything quite like this, as far as science fiction goes. I would slightly link it to The Host by Stephenie Meyer.

Plot Summary: 

Sera wakes up in the middle of the ocean, in the wreckage of a plane crash as the only survivor without any memory whatsoever of who she is or where she’s from or anything. When she is rescued, she says the year is 1609. While at the hospital, she becomes famous as she has no identity, no memories, nothing. And mysteriously enough, she wasn’t listed on the passenger manifest and no one seems to know who she is. People around the hospital call her Violet, because of her violet eyes, and she is soon placed in foster care until they can find who she belongs to.

Then a boy appears (doesn’t it always happen), named Zen, who says he knows who she is, that her name is Sera (or Seraphina) and that they are in love. He wants to protect her but Sera doesn’t really understand what from.

Then she starts to realize how different she is from the rest of the people she meets. She’s ridiculously smart and can add up large sums without blinking an eye. Words pop in her memory through dictionary definitions. She speaks different languages without even realizing that she is doing so.  She doesn’t understand emotions, and her body is stronger than a normal human, running abnormally fast and ripping car doors off without even really trying. She has absolutely no memories of anything. Suddenly, the things Zen is saying are start to make sense and she embarks on a journey to figure who, or what, she is.

The Bad:

I always do the bad first. I think I like to get it out of the way, because as a writer, I hate to talk bad on other writers even though I know I write badly at times and I love to hear bad reviews of my books because its the only way I can get better.

And I LOVED this book, I really truly did.

But the one kind of beef I had with it was the ending. Not the ending exactly. I thought it was a good ending. It left off with a cliffhanger, LITERALLY a cliffhanger, but it was really fast. It happened really fast. I felt like there was a ton of build up, and it ended super quickly. I think maybe it did because Jessica has more for us in the second and third books but I was a little disappointed at how fast the ending happened, not the ending itself. It was a great ending, enough was answered to satisfy the reader and yet there was a lot unanswered that it makes the reader want to read the next.

The Good:

I have to get to the good now though because I really really enjoyed this book. What I really liked about this book was the character development of the book, which I think a lot of books nowadays are missing, and the action and romance of it, balanced enough so that its not too much of each. Its not overly full of action but its not a sappy romance and I feel like its a balanced blend that we really don’t get to see much of anymore.

First off, there’s the development of Sera and her story. Its very intriguing and it really gets you thinking. Of course, Jessica KNEW who Sera was but when you start reading the story, Sera is a blank slate, completely. How difficult it had to be to write a character who is basically a human robot. She has no memories of anything. She doesn’t know what food is, what cars are. She has no concept of emotions, no idea what a hug is, or what beauty is. She knows nothing. But for some reason, she knows numbers and she can count. She has a dictionary in her head that downloads definitions of words as she hears them. She is the strangest main character that I have read in quite a long time and I think that’s the reason I was caught so fast. She is intriguing and you can’t help but want to know about her.

Because think about it: she’s basically a 16 year old infant (for the most part). She’s relearning so many things, like cars and food and all kinds of things. She doesn’t even understand clothing, like underwear or pants. Its crazy. I look around me as I write this post and wonder how I would feel if I didn’t know what the computer in front of me was, what the Internet was, if the things in this room would confuse me. The psychology of it, and of Sera, was intriguing and thought provoking. I’ve read books where characters lose their memories but they still know some things, like food and technology and things like that. Sera is completely a clean slate, except her ridiculous aptitude for numbers.

I also like the relationship between Sera and Zen because it takes most of the book to develop because of her memory loss. Even when you do get the memory flash backs of their relationship, you realize that, yes, it was a bit cheesy but it wasn’t a quick, cheesy fall in love sort of thing. Zen really had to win her over, because she was basically emotionless the way she is in this particular book. It’s not forced, in my opinion. The feelings Sera has for Zen are memories of what she felt before she lost her memories and so none of it seems forced at all.

I also love the science fiction of it. Its very Jason Bourne of the Bourne series but with a badass sixteen year old girl. And I like it more because of that. We don’t see a lot of characters like this and it was extremely refreshing. It wasn’t a super new concept but it was presented in a very new way. After a hundred million books about angels and vampires and werewolves and magic and dystopian societies, it was really nice to read a book that was straight up science fiction, with labs and genetics and memory cubes and time travel and all kinds of really cool stuff.

Also, I just liked watching Sera experience everything for the first time. I liked the way she discovered the Internet and found it absolutely fascinating. I loved her observation of cars and grocery stores and clothes. I really loved her discovery of grilled cheese sandwiches. Imagine trying your absolute favorite food for the first time, as if you’d never tried it before. Exactly. I loved her reaction to that. It was kind of fun to experience that with her.

Lastly, I just like her name. I was wary about Seraphina, its a little abnormal for me but Sera is beautiful. And yeah, I’m partly saying that because my name is Sara. I just think its a gorgeous spelling of such a traditional name.

Rating: 

4.5 out of 5 Stars.

Recommended or Not?: 

Most definitely. Its the first of the series so if you like it, you can eagerly wait the next installment, Unforgotten (which I have just been informed by Jessica is to be released in March of next year). And honestly, its a really thought provoking series. I think some people may be turned off on it because of the science fiction aspect of it but I loved it. Its seriously addicting watching Sera as she rediscovers the world and who she is, and how she rediscovers Zen.

The best thing is, you can try the first five chapters of the book for FREE for Kindle on Amazon. For those of you who don’t know, you can get the Kindle app for any device, or phone, or just your computer, so definitely download that, and try the first five chapters for free. You may find that you need the rest of the book :)

Don’t forget if you click the book title above, it takes you straight to the Amazon page for the book!

Happy Reading!

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