By Jessica Brody
March 5, 2013
Ages 12 and up
Farrar, Straus, & Giroux (BYR)
Reviewed: ARC from Publisher
Perhaps my expectations were too high. Perhaps I expected something entirely different than what was served. Perhaps it was just poor timing when it came to reading this… Though UNREMEMBERED by Jessica Brody was an enjoyable enough read, a poorly executed “mystery” and characters lacking in emotional depth caused it to fall a bit… flat.
Flat. What an excellent word to describe this book. Let’s start with the main character, Violet (aka. “Seraphina” according to the description, which itself is a spoiler that completely kills one “mystery” element in the book). She is a positively “perfect” being, and we are constantly reminded of this fact throughout the book. Oh, and she has purple eyes. Seraphina is so perfect and flawless, in fact, (and don’t forget she has purple eyes) that it is obvious that she is either a) an unnatural human/science experiment/robot or b) an alien. Take your pick. And she is super smart and probably has the highest IQ in the world, buy yet she knows nothing at all about the modern world… Hmm, I wonder where she came from? Either she comes from a) a different time or b) another planet. Again, take your pick. Other than these attributes, there was very little that made Seraphina interesting.
UNREMEMBERED was too entirely predictable and so straight forward in how it was presented from the very beginning. As a result, the element of mystery was killed for this (typically naive) reader. In fact, even though it is also supposed to be a romance novel, I found my self not at all invested with the romantic interest. So even that part of the story fell a bit flat for me. Sadly, the other half of the love story, Zen, simply came across as a lucky hormonal boy who happened to fall in love with the “perfect woman”. I think that any boy who happened upon her could have easily fit the bill. I tried to find some redeeming quality that would make Zen special or stand out as more than just a cardboard character, but I couldn’t… Not to mention, there seemed to be too many characters thrown in the story out of convenience, as though they were there just to help the characters along in their quest. And the bad guy… Is it bad that I didn’t feel the tension with this one?
I do not want to sound too negative, though. The writing IS quite good and the words/dialogue flow fairly easily. While much time is spent running (from both the obvious truth and the bad guys) and the pacing is off a bit, I still found UNREMEMBERED to be a quick and entertaining enough read. At least, I wasn’t bored, even though I knew the outcome before I read it. How exactly was the pacing off? Well, UNREMEMBERED starts right off with the discovery of Seraphina, but after that it contains an overly slow middle + a too quick resolution. While this is actually the typical pacing of mystery fiction, in this case the element of mystery wasn’t exactly there… so phooey.
I do know many other readers who have found the story to be quite exciting and the mystery to be unpredictable, though. Maybe I will be the black sheep when all is said and done.
Will I be continuing the series? Well, UNREMEMBERED did end on a pretty big cliffhanger, one that sends the characters and story in a direction that could be insanely awesome. Plus, now that the predictable brouhaha of discovering the origin of Seraphina is over and done with, perhaps the story can move forward to something more gripping. I have a feeling that, in spite of my lack of a full connection with UNREMEMBERED, I will still be checking out book two when it is released.