Bottom Line: Clever premise with a decent execution, I was pleasantly surprised at how involved I was in Sera’s search for answers and am now anxious to see how the story continues.
“When Freedom Airlines flight 121 went down over the Pacific Ocean, no one ever expected to find survivors. Which is why the sixteen-year-old girl discovered floating among the wreckage — alive — is making headlines across the globe.Even more strange is that her body is miraculously unharmed and she has no memories of boarding the plane. She has no memories of her life before the crash. She has no memories period. No one knows how she survived. No one knows why she wasn’t on the passenger manifest. And no one can explain why her DNA and fingerprints can’t be found in a single database in the world.Crippled by a world she doesn’t know, plagued by abilities she doesn’t understand, and haunted by a looming threat she can’t remember, Seraphina struggles to piece together her forgotten past and discover who she really is. But with every clue only comes more questions. And she’s running out of time to answer them.Her only hope is a strangely alluring boy who claims to know her from before the crash. Who claims they were in love. But can she really trust him? And will he be able to protect her from the people who have been making her forget?”
Thoughts: No memories, no past, no identity, no answers – such is the fate Seraphina faces when she awakens among the wreckage of a plane crash, not only the only survivor but completely unharmed. Her miraculous survival not only garners intense media scrutiny but also more insidious observers. In her new world filled with well-meaning advice, Sera perceives an unknown threat that forces her to test her instincts. Did she survive a horrific plane crash only to meet a more treacherous fate? Such is the premise of Jessica Brody’s latest novel, Unremembered, the first book in a new trilogy.
Seraphina is the type of character which creates a need to protect within everyone who meets her, including the reading audience. This is in large part due to her total amnesia, which is so complete that she is not even able to remember how to dress herself. The complete lack of past, along with her forced isolation thanks to the media and her absence of familial connections, produces a character who appears fragile and fully engenders the nurturing response. That she is not quite as fragile as one might initially expect is not a surprise, but that desire to help and sympathize for Sera’s ongoing bewilderment creates a strong emotional bond within the reader.
One of the best things about Unremembered is the fact that it is unpredictable. Just as a reader begins to guess at the truth, the truth has a habit of veering off down a completely different path than the one expected. In fact, without completely spoiling the surprises, it is possible to completely overthink the plot. There are hidden agendas and shady scientists, but the society as described on the pages are exactly what they appear to be. Readers have become so inured by complex dystopian societies in which the downfall of modern society is only mentioned through hints or well into the second novel of a series that to read a novel which does not require one to try to figure out what happened necessitates its own mini paradigm shift of sorts.
The success of any science fiction novel hinges on the believability of the science being used to promote the story. In Unremembered, the science is actually fairly weak. Some of the explanations leave a lot to be desired, and the reader must take more than one leap of faith to accept Ms. Brody’s descriptions. In spite of all that however, a reader can and will still enjoy the story, as it is more about Sera’s search for answers than anything else. That some of the answers require a reader to suspend one’s sense of disbelief is not a major undertaking because one is so immersed in Sera’s fate.
The premise underlying Unremembered is quite creative. Ms. Brody answers just enough questions to keep the story satisfactory but still leaving larger answers and the fate of her heroine open for future novels. She excels at capturing Sera’s profound confusion, frustrations, and desperation for answers, which lends the story a sense of humanity and outshines its weaker elements. The emotional bond between Sera and reader and the desire to know her fate is what will keep readers anticipating the sequel.