A strange thing happened to me in January. One Wednesday in early 2017, I found myself at a launch for a book I had just about heard of at the Ice Bar in London with my friend Lorna (she has a Book Tube channel called Suddenly Lorna – highly recommend!). We had furry ponchos on and were standing next to an ice sculpture of a gorilla (no joke) talking to other book bloggers, free cocktails in our hands. Considering the day before, I was probably trying to stop a child’s tantrum with a sticker in the children’s area of the bookshop I worked at and cleaning up spilt coffee, it felt a little different. We were there for the launch of The One Memory of Flora Banks published by Penguin and dubbed the best YA book of the year – it was a good nice and it definitely set the scene in my mind for the book.
The book itself is about seventeen year-old, Flora Banks, who has a very short term memory and cannot form any new memories since she was ten years-old. The night before her best friend’s boyfriend leaves town for good, she kisses him and wakes up the next morning remembering the moment over and over in her head – the first time she has been able to form a memory. With only written notes on her hands and a limited memory, she sets off to the Norway to follow him and find out the truth.
I was a bit skeptical whether I’d like this book or not based on the synopsis (the kind of thing that normally makes me roll my eyes), but thought I’d give it a go anyway after hearing good praise for it at the event.
I actually did start getting into this novel for the first half, although the amount of times the narrator repeats THE SAME THING over and over again gets really irritating after a while even if you understand it’s because of her amnesia.
The first part of the book felt very concrete plot wise and introduced the characters well allowing an element of mystery and a feeling that everything doesn’t quite make sense – is that because of the amnesia of our narrator, Flora or something else underlying?
However, the narrative suddenly grew very flat to the point where, in all honesty, I skim read and skipped a big chunk of the middle section. I felt the narrative sort of went off on a tangent and not a very interesting one either. The main story I was most intrigued by was put aside and replaced with a narrative that I didn’t really care about, didn’t understand its relevance and just didn’t find interesting. I tuned back in for the last 80 odd pages and raced through to the end which for me was actually pretty satisfactory and almost empowering in some sense.
This book was predictable (although I did question myself a few times), but sometimes that is the kind of book you want. This book really attempted to take on some great themes near the end and I think that if these had been carried through the whole novel rather than introduced at the end, it would have made for a much more enjoyable read. The characters were unlikeable in my opinion – Flora was plain annoying, native and pathetic at times while I was too suspicious of the other characters to like them in any way.
This book had a lot of potential for me, but its middle section, its lack of continuous topical themes and badly written characters really let this book down for me. The story at the beginning and the end bring this book up a star, however, apart from that, this book disappointed me.
I give it a 1 out of 5 stars
(I was invited to the event as a book blogger, I was not paid to write this review or attend the event and I appreciate being invited entirely. This book has some great reviews on Goodreads – this review is a true reflection of my thoughts on this book that I wanted to share. I believe in the freedom of speech and sharing of opinions on blogs and by no means should this review be seen as a personal attack on the author or publisher in question – it is just my personal opinion of the book I read)