Friday, 1 March 2013

Review: Unremembered by Jessica Brody

Unremembered (Unremembered #1) by Jessica Brody
Publisher: Macmillan
Released: 28th February 2013
My Rating: 3.25 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads

Sixteen-year-old Sera is the only survivor of an explosion on a plane. She wakes up in hospital to find that she has no memory. The only clue to her identity is a mysterious boy who claims she was part of a top-secret science experiment. The only adult she trusts insists that she shouldn’t believe anything that anybody tells her.

In a tense and pacy novel exploding with intrigue and action, Sera must work out who she is and where she came from. Eventually she will learn that the only thing worse than forgetting her past is remembering it
. (from Goodreads)

Unremembered was an enjoyable read and I’m intrigued enough to probably pick up the next book in the trilogy when it’s out. However, I did have a few problems with it, especially with the romance and the more scientific aspects, so it’s not the kind of series I’ll rush out to buy on the day of release.

The beginning was, for me, the strongest part of the book. Sera had been found among the ruins of a plane crash, and she was believed to be the only survivor. She couldn’t remember anything before the day she was found, couldn’t even remember her own name or age – she was called “Violet” by the medical staff because of violet coloured eyes, and it was the doctors who determined she was around sixteen years old. Sera had no idea who she was. And when she was first found, she was asked what year she thought it was and answered with “1609”. That sparked my curiosity the most, I think. “1609” was a random year to reply with...it was clear after a while that Sera wasn’t actually from that year because of the way she recognised certain things we have only in our current time-period, so I was very interested to know why Sera would reply with such an odd date. As the book went on, more strange things kept happening. Sera’s amnesia seemed to work in an unusual way...she couldn’t remember slang or things like computers and phones, but she showed exceptional ability in maths and languages. These skills, coupled with her strength and “extraordinary beauty” made it pretty easy to guess what was up with her – if you read/watch a lot of sci-fi, you're bound to know – but I did enjoy seeing all her abilities and going with her on her quest to recover her memories, with the help of Cody, her new foster-brother, and Zen, a boy who claimed to know Sera from before the crash. Personally, I felt Sera was interesting because she was contradictory. At some points, she seems very kind and considerate, but at others, I felt she was almost heartless. She chose to do something, purely for selfish reasons so she could feel better about bad things that had happened in the past, with no consideration for the people who loved her and how they would feel about the decision she was making and how they would also have to live with it and how difficult that would be for them. It seemed weird to me that she didn’t realise the consequences of her request, but then maybe I was just reading too much into things.

Cody was your typical sort of awkward thirteen year old boy, and while I didn’t love him, I did think he was a good character to have – he and Sera didn’t really get along too well but I enjoyed reading about them both together, and you could see that deep down, Cody probably did care about her, and Sera definitely grew attached to him. He was quite funny, which was nice because Sera didn’t really have much of a sense of humour, and he actually helped Sera try to recover her memories, albeit reluctantly. We didn’t really get to know much about Cody except that he was good at maths and science (and that two weeks allowance for him was apparently over $138 – how rich was this kid and his family?! Is this normal or am I justified in being surprised?), so I’m wondering if he will have a bigger role in the second book (though after the way he and Sera parted, I sort of doubt this).

Zen was a character I struggled to grow attached to. He was desperately trying to help Sera remember who she was – he knew her real name, knew about the locket that was found with her in the crash and Sera had a strange reaction to him every time he appeared. Sera didn’t know whether to trust him or not, but she was always drawn to him. The romance, to me, was a little disappointing. I felt like the author thought she could get away with not really developing the relationship just by showing that Sera and Zen knew each other before and loved each other then. But to me, knowing that information didn’t prevent the romance from seeming very much like insta-love. It just happened too quickly and I didn’t feel the connection the two supposedly had between them. Furthermore, Zen remained pretty much a complete mystery. I understand this was the first book in a planned trilogy, but we found out nothing about this boy, except that he and Sera used to know each other and that he had a mother. That wasn’t really enough for me, I wanted to know more about him and his personality, not just that he loved Sera. It was like his whole identity was “the person in love with Sera trying to save her” and nothing else.

Plot-wise, I could sort of see where the story was going most of the time, but I enjoyed reading about it nonetheless, and I think the time-travel element made things a lot more interesting. However, the way the time-travelling worked was almost completely unexplained. We were told that instead of focussing on wormholes or travelling faster than the speed of light, like the scientists of today, the people involved decided to turn to genetics. And then, besides stating that humans were able to change when and where they existed, that was pretty much where the explanation stopped. A gene was developed to make time travel possible. A gene? Really? Right. Okay then. I’m sorry, but you cannot just say “we decided to look at genetics” and then not explain ANYTHING after that. That is not an explanation. How the hell did looking at GENETICS enable time-travel? How did this gene work? What did it do exactly to make time travel possible? How was it developed? Why did it work in some people and not others? What exactly happened to the failed subjects? If you’re going to use science to try and explain why something has happened, at least come up with something plausible for how  it works, otherwise it becomes “science”, not science, and no-one is going to respect it or take it seriously. Honestly, I think this was biggest problem I had with this book.

Overally, Unremembered was an entertaining, light sci-fi novel with an emphasis on romance. I would recommend it to sci-fi beginners and those who are into the more “star-crossed lovers” kind of romance (seeing as there was a lot of running away from bad guys). However, if you’re a more experienced sci-fi reader (or a hardcore one), keep in mind that the story here really focuses more on the romance and less on world-building.

6 comments:

  1. Sigh! And it looked so promising. :-(

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  2. Hmm well I don't typically read a lot of sci-fi so I might be more into this than you. However, it sounds like the story is all over the place and I really can't stand books that jump too much or have unexplained elements so I'm probably gonna skip this.

    Thanks for the great review!

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  3. Oooh, on one hand I think this one sounds pretty cool, and on the other I am not very sci-fi minded at all, so I'm not sure if it'll be the book for me. I'll check it out, though. I'm pretty sure I was meant to have a review copy of this one, but you know what usually happens with my review copies, don't you! Yup - this one seems to have gone AWOL too!

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  4. I think this sounds really interesting but am sad that its predictable because I really like to be kept on my toes! I'm looking forward to picking this one up for a light read but it's a shame that its no more than that as it sounds like it had a lot of promise.

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  5. Very engaging sci-fi novel, full of twists but also spiced with romance. I loved the mystery caused by Sera’s complete loss of memory and her not being on the passenger manifest and her DNA being absent from every DNA database in the world, really managed to draw me in. The teenage girl, renamed Violet, finds herself in a foster family that includes her foster brother Cody, one of the most likeable and exciting characters of the novel. Zen, the boy, who claims Sera to have been in love with him, is also a sweet character, protecting Sera from the, to her, unknown world, and helping her to remember him. Sera’s unawareness of the world adds qualities of a newborn exploring the world to her character which I found very enjoyable. The novel’s ending is left open, however overall it ends well and there isn’t much of a cliff-hanger. I’d recommend this to anyone looking for a good book with a great plot.

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  6. I didn't even get an allowance! Your reaction is perfectly justified, in my opinion. ;) I agree about Cody, though. I liked that he brought some humour into the book, which definitely made it easier to read. I also had some problems with this overall, though I did like it well enough. Great review, Liz!

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