Published: 12th January 2017
Started reading: August 26
Finished reading: August 28
Flora has anterograde amnesia. She can’t remember anything day-to-day: the joke her friend made, the instructions her parents gave her, how old she is.
Then she kisses a boy named Drake, and the next day she remembers it. It’s the first time she’s remembered anything since she was ten. Drake then leaves the UK to study in Svalbard, but Flora, with the words ‘be brave’ inscribed on her hand, is compelled to find him again.
Will following him be the key to unlocking her memory? Who can she trust?
This was a fun, fast, and enjoyable Bank Holiday read! It also feels quite unique, as it all takes place within the mind of a teenage girl who suffers from anterograde amnesia, and the story is written sensitively with a lot of imagination.
The concept of the book directly impacts upon the writing style. Because Flora has amnesia and relies on her written notes to remember everything important in her life, it is very repetitive. The same things are repeated regularly, but I never found this tiresome and it never affected the pace. In fact, Emily Barr handles it in a very tactful way.
I found Flora to be a very likeable character. She is very innocent and courageous, and it was really fun to follow her on what turns out to be a fascinating adventure. Sadly for her, the adventure is for all the wrong reasons, as she remembers kissing a boy named Drake. In her mind she adores him, so it is a shame in that respect that he is not worth the effort.
I like the understated humour in this book, and the themes that emerge as it progresses. Flora’s story is one of empowerment, and the writing really enforces that she is a special person who is capable of anything. I also like the different settings, and the character of Agi. Not only is she a blogger (yay!), she likes to try out a lot of English idioms, which reminds me of one of my close friends.
The whole thing about Flora writing everything she needs to remember on her hands and arms make me think of the film Memento, and to a lesser extent The Silence in Doctor Who. Talking of the whole concept, the idea of having amnesia or any memory problems is very frightening. Losing my memory is one of my biggest fears 🙂
The ending was surprising, but satisfying at the same time. However, the only serious issue I have with the book is the pace. I like the fast pace, but I also find it inconsistent. It was relatively solid until the second part, where it takes a big jump and then goes a little bit around in circles.
But apart from that, I would certainly recommend it to anyone who likes YA. It is original, it is fun, and if you can handle the frequent repetition, you will find it hard not to dislike Flora. A very good YA debut from Emily Barr.
A former journalist, Emily Barr has written 12 adult novels, but this is her first venture into YA. The idea for this book came after a trip to Svalbard in 2013, when she was interested in setting a thriller in the Arctic.
Travel and a wide range of settings are a common theme in her books. She lives in Cornwall, where part of this book is set, with her partner and their children.
I very much enjoyed reading this book. It was powerful, it was wonderfully written, and it had a more than satisfying conclusion.
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐