Missing Memories in YA Fantasy/SF

This post most certainly will contain spoilers, though I have tried not to be very obvious about it. If you haven’t read any of the books I’ve mentioned in my tags, but you intend to read them someday, you may want to avoid this post.

It all started while Elizabeth and I were talking about the conclusion of a certain series. She was talking about how memory loss doesn’t quite appeal to her as a plot twist, and I was talking about how CLAMP made me like it. I do see her point, though–there are definitely memory losses that are written well, and there are some that just aren’t. Since I haven’t yet started reading the books I intend to review for this month’s theme, I figured I’d talk about some of the books that I feel mess with characters’ memories in interesting ways:

Champion by Marie Lu

The book that started this list. It’s the final book in the series and most of us knew that something terrible was going to go down, I just don’t think any of us expected it to be this. We don’t know if the character gets all their memories back, but it is clear that the memories they are going to make in the future is worth way more than the loss. What I loved about the timing of it all is pretty much what Elizabeth said in her review of the series: one character’s memory loss gave the opportunity for my OTP to grow up apart from each other and then, when the time was right for both of them (years later), they grew closer together. It isn’t as neat an ending as most One True Love YA couples get and I love that. We need a variety of romances in YA fantasy and this one changes things up.

More Than This by Patrick Ness

This novel begins when protagonist’s life ends. The story, and Seth, question how well we can move forward if our past is lost to us. And if, by some chance, we are able to recover these lost memories, does that really help us move forward, or does the past just pull us back from our destinations? I mean, there’s a lot more to this novel, but the blankness with which it begins is why this book is on my list here.

More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

I still don’t have the words to describe how brilliant this book is. If I gave you anything but the summary, I feel like I would completely wreck your reading experience, so please, just read it:

In the months after his father’s suicide, it’s been tough for 16-year-old Aaron Soto to find happiness again–but he’s still gunning for it. With the support of his girlfriend Genevieve and his overworked mom, he’s slowly remembering what that might feel like. But grief and the smile-shaped scar on his wrist prevent him from forgetting completely.

When Genevieve leaves for a couple of weeks, Aaron spends all his time hanging out with this new guy, Thomas. Aaron’s crew notices, and they’re not exactly thrilled. But Aaron can’t deny the happiness Thomas brings or how Thomas makes him feel safe from himself, despite the tensions their friendship is stirring with his girlfriend and friends. Since Aaron can’t stay away from Thomas or turn off his newfound feelings for him, he considers turning to the Leteo Institute’s revolutionary memory-alteration procedure to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he truly is. — [X]

Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy by Cassandra Clare, Maureen Johnson, Sarah Rees Brennan, and Robin Wasserman

Yeah, I am not too worried about wrecking your experience of this one. It’s been a while since City of Heavenly Fire, Clare’s released ten new short stories, an extra materials book, and the first book in her new series. So, prepare yourselves for the big spoiler: Simon Lewis’ memories were taken by a demon but, through a bit of meddling on the part of Magnus and Isabelle, Simon is pulled back into the Shadow World–this time as a Shadowhunter trainee. While Simon has been filled in on a lot of details from his past, he remembers only flashes of events. What makes these short stories interesting though, is that we get to see the old Simon from previous books reemerge, but we also meet a Simon who is older and just won’t take any shit. He is often the voice of reason, calling people out on their bigotry and–listening to Catarina Loss–trying to be the kind of Shadowhunter that their world needs. Through all of Clare’s books, the Shadowhunter faction is the most stagnant one, so it is interesting that Simon–ever the outsider to this faction–is the one to bring the change. Plus, the more he remembers, the harder he pushes back against the status quo. Simon Lewis, without certain memories, is still Simon Lewis it turns out. With his memories, he’s Simon, but amplified.

A History of Glitter and Blood by Hannah Moskowitz

Here I will argue that history is a shared memory. It is both accurate and inaccurate the way memories are, and if they aren’t written down, we may forget them. The entirety of this novel is one faery’s attempt to record their history. The readers’ issue is that they don’t know, until the very end, which of the faeries is writing this history–and trust me, who they are, how they experience events and form their own person memories, most certainly affects the way the novel/history book is written. I have many mixed feelings about the reveal, but the novel itself is the most unique and clever YA fantasy I’ve ever read.

So, are there any favourite of yours that mess with memories? Tell me about them! 🙂

  • Janet

    Staaaaaahp it before I steal your copy of More Happy Than Not. You just enjoy making me cry, don’t you :p

    • Yash

      I don’t enjoy making people cry! I just … like not being the only one crying? Heh. Well, when I get my paperback copy of More Happy Than Not, I will happily lend it to you. 😀

    • Yash

      Wait, nope, I’m getting the hardbound copy. I don’t like the paperback cover as much. :/