I’m sorry not to have put a review up on Wednesday. This has been a rough week — one of those weeks where I become convinced I’m a barely functioning human being. Given that I’ve barely made it out of bed several days, that’s probably not an inaccurate assessment. I did read a few books though (since that can be done from bed, at least on the days I didn’t have a migraine), including this one, and now I’m finally getting around to reviewing it.
I requested If I Should Remember from NetGalley because I’m fascinated by memory, and the loss of it. I’ve written a couple of (first draft) novels dealing with it: it’s fascinating to explore what makes people forget, what that means for their identity, and how it feels to regain that knowledge of yourself. After all, there’s surely a reason you forgot it in the first place, right?
If I Should Remember introduces us to Zoe, who has a year of her life missing from her memory. Theoretically. It seemed like a lot more than that. I’m trying to avoid spoilers, but later it turns out her surname is not actually her surname, and she doesn’t remember this — these kinds of details were one of the things that seemed off about the book, as it wasn’t simply the events of the past year that she was lacking.
Actually, the book on the whole seemed kind of a mess. Sorry! I hate writing negative reviews for books that have just come out (this one was published at the beginning of February), but inevitably it happens sometimes. I couldn’t figure out what this was trying to be. A high school story? A supernatural story, complete with ghost dogs? Was it going to be some kind of SF/F or a conspiracy tale about her missing memories? It felt like it was trying to genre blend without doing any of them convincingly.
Without any idea of what to expect, I was intrigued by the memory loss, and that’s probably the only reason I got to the end. Despite a few engaging moments, on the whole I couldn’t get into it. The high school segments seemed cliched, especially the romance, and I couldn’t believe the setup for the missing memories. (Like I said, more seemed to be missing than was accounted for, even after the big reveal.)
It felt like it would be a supernatural story; it wasn’t. The ending made more sense than anything else would have done, I guess, but it threw me off. Actually, the whole book did. While the memory loss was at the centre of the ending, it still seemed like a subplot for the book as a whole, which as I’ve said, seemed like a high-school story featuring bonus invisible dog.
On the whole, it didn’t seem to live up to the potential of its premise. Which is a shame, because memory is a fascinating thing, and I love books that really explore it and what it means to forget.