by Dan Krokos
Of the many young adult science fiction novels that have been released recently, False Memory stands out as an extremly fun, solidly entertaining debut. This action-packed, suspenseful story follows Miranda North, a teenage girl who wakes up without any memory of who she is. Before long, she discovers that her unusual ability to release a painful pulse of energy is the reason why she’s being relentlessly pursued…and the reason why her life, as well as the lives of many others, is now in danger.
From brain wave manipulation to rogue agents to a tonally genuine romance, this book includes a lot of different elements, and manages to present them all in a surprisingly engaging way. The author understands how to balance tension and levity, as well as how to up the ante both physically and emotionally as the story builds to its climax. It’s rare to find a YA action novel that is this well-paced, especially since most of its protagonists are also well-developed. Miranda’s blind panic and fight-or-flight adrenaline practically leaps off the page with her POV, but her observations about the other characters also allow us to know them as well.
This novel is notable for:
- an original, well-plotted story with exciting, unpredictable twists
- a believably conflicted, responsible heroine
- memorable characters
- well-choreographed fight sequences
- great dialogue
- scientific science fiction.
I had a really great time reading this story because it was just so much fun, but what I appreciate most about it is an interesting sensitivity in its heroine that I frankly find rather unusual coming from a male YA author. Miranda is a sensible, fast-thinking character, but she’s also very feminine in a way that doesn’t rely upon endless descriptions of her appearance or other surface things; it’s more of a subtle but very present emotional mindset that I found very appealing, particularly in the way her feelings about her teammates Peter and Noah change over the course of the book.
I really liked the way the love triangle is handled here, by the way. Miranda is placed in a very tricky situation, and even though her confusion and anger lead to some complicated situations, it wasn’t hard to understand her predicament, nor to feel sympathy for everyone involved.
This novel is a promising start to a planned trilogy, and it’s going to be thrilling to see where the story goes next. False Memory surprised me with its electrifying blend of mystery, drama, and action, and my guess is that fans of science fiction thrillers will absolutely love it.
Release Date: August 14, 2012
Rated 4 out of 5 stars
This review also appears on GoodReads. An advance copy was provided by the publisher.
On a more serious note, I want to briefly address the fact that I originally placed this book on a “will never read” shelf following a serious incident back in January. The author made some rather ill-advised remarks in defense of a fellow author on a pre-review written by a friend of mine, and like many others, I was absolutely outraged that she was repeatedly goaded on her own space in that way. The author did apologize to the reviewer, however, and following some additional information that I learned, I decided to give the book a chance–and I’m very glad I did, for more reasons than one.
If you’d like more information about what happened, there is a long discussion on my GoodReads thread, and my reasoning for changing my mind is posted here. I’ve also had the opportunity to discuss what happened with the author at some length since then, he has some very interesting insights from an author’s perspective. I’ve invited Dan to the blog for a chat that will appear next week, so I hope you’ll come back for that discussion. I think anyone who is concerned about this current author/reader divide will be interested in hearing what he has to say.