Saturday, March 19, 2011

Book Review: Memento Nora, by Angie Smibert

Memento Nora is a dystopian story that kept me intrigued to the very end. This is a society where something like Marshall Law has taken over. There are curfews and people’s movements and activities are tracked. There are security patrols with machine guns protecting the people.  There are regular bombings of buildings and cars by a terrorist group called the Coalition. So, people who have the means spend a lot on their security—armored cars and sophisticated home security systems.

When 15-year-old Nora witnesses a horrible bombing of a book store, her mother takes her to the TFC (Therapeutic Forgetting Clinic) to get the pill to make her forget everything about this event. This is Nora’s first time, but the government encourages people to come here over and over. Visits are rewarded with points, which can be used like money.

At the clinic, Nora sees a young boy with a cast on his arm. As this boy is leaving the TFC, he opens his mouth to show Nora that he hasn’t swallowed his pill. So, when Nora is given the pill, she doesn’t swallow hers. She later meets the boy, Micah, and they (along with Micah’s friend, Winter) begin to create, print, and distribute comics that are subversive in nature. This, of course, puts them in much danger, and they realize all is not what it seems in this society, and even within their families.

Angie Smibert writes as if these characters are testifying (or, making a “Therapeutic Statement”) at a detention facility, and from the beginning Nora says she’s going to forget all of what she is saying.  This is an interesting way to provide some foreshadowing. Micah, Nora, and Winter are all giving these statements. These three characters drive the story. There are secondary characters—parents, the librarian, the police officer—but we really get inside the three main character’s heads, because they are the narrators. They are realistic teens with the usual problems, making bad decisions and struggling to find their place in the world, as well as doing their small part to change it.

Even though the reader suspects how this is going to end, we still want to know what these kids can accomplish before they are caught, and the ending does offer some hope for the future.  (A sequel is in the works.)This book is easy to read, short (great recommendation for those reluctant readers), and gives the reader a lot to think about. I can see this being used as a classroom read. Teens rebelling against an oppressive society – it doesn’t get better than that for some great discussions.

Published by Marshall Cavendish, April 1, 2011
ARC provided by “Banned Book Tours” for review
184 pages

Rating: 3.5/5

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  1. I loved the foreshadowing in this book as well as the feel of it ^.^ I definitely agree that it was great especially since it packed such a great story into so few pages.

    Sniffly Kitty
    Sniffly Kitty's Mostly Books

  2. I really enjoyed this one! I've used it in both middle school and high school booktalks and the teens get really excited about it. I also made a book trailer to promote the book:

  3. Sounds really interesting! I haven't heard of this book before, but I'll have to put it on my tbr list!

  4. I agree that the story pulls you in so you want to see exactly how far they can take their scheme. I also think this is a great teaching book and that a lot of kids could get into this.


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