Title: Tabula Rasa
Author: Kristen Lippert-Martin
No. of Pages: 352
Genre: Young Adult; Science Fiction
Origins: Egmont USA
Release Date: 23 September 2014
Bottom Line: Heart-pounding, edge-of-your-seat fantastic
“Sarah starts a crazy battle for her life within the walls of her hospital-turned-prison when a procedure to eliminate her memory goes awry and she starts to remember snatches of her past. Was she an urban terrorist or vigilante? Has the procedure been her salvation or her destruction?
The answers lie trapped within her mind. To access them, she’ll need the help of the teen computer hacker who’s trying to bring the hospital down for his own reasons, and a pill that’s blocked by an army of mercenary soldiers poised to eliminate her for good. If only she knew why…”
Thoughts: Sarah is one of those heroines that one cannot help but love. She is fiery, determined, intelligent, brave, loyal, and so much more. She is never truly a victim, no matter what the situation appears to be as the book opens. Neither is she unrealistic. Given the technology and the motivation, nothing about Sarah is implausible, just as her story is possible. It is easy to slip into her skin and understand what motivates her and what she is feeling. Similarly, it is nearly impossible not to cheer for her when the going gets tough. She is vulnerable and not afraid to show it but has the savvy to understand that there is a right and wrong place to show weakness. As she unravels clues and gains more of her memory, she proves herself worthy indeed of a reader’s sympathy and accolades.
What occurs inside the hospital is exciting, intense, and, as previously stated, entirely probable. Nothing about the science behind Sarah’s procedures are extreme, and there is nothing to say that someone somewhere is not doing something similar. This plausibility gives the story an added air of danger as the line between ethics and scientific progress blurs. Even better, the science behind the procedures and the mysterious goals of the hospital are well-explained and easy to understand. It always helps a science fiction novel when the science is of the kind easily grasped by the majority of the reading audience. Ms. Lippert-Martin balances that line with ease, making her story that much stronger because of it.
The pacing of Tabula Rasa is absolutely fantastic. The action essentially starts from the very first page. While there are breaks in the action to give the heroes a chance to regroup, rest, and plan, the tension remains taut as all parties – readers and characters alike – know that the story does not end until either the heroine dies or the bad guys meet their fate. This knowledge serves to heighten the drama and ratchet up the intensity of the story, making it the type of novel readers will race to finish.
On top of all of this fabulousness within Tabula Rasa is the knowledge that this is a stand-alone novel. Sarah’s story begins and ends within its pages. There is no need to worry about unanswered questions or cliffhangers. This knowledge alone is to make the story a much-welcome anomaly within the young adult publishing world.
For a debut novel, Tabula Rasa is very impressive. Ms. Lippert-Martin keeps readers on the edges of their seat and reading long past bedtimes with her suspenseful story. The characters are easy to like and fun without becoming cartoonish or simplistic, while the science is easy to understand and scarily possible. With the added bonus of being a stand-alone novel, readers will enjoy a fast-paced action thriller that is highly entertaining, well-written, and a welcome addition to the book world.