Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Memory Hit by Carla Spradbery

Title: The Memory Hit
Author: Carla Spradbery
Hodder Children's Books
Release Date: June 4, 2015
Rating: 1/5

The Gist: On New Year's Eve, Jess's life is unrecognizable: her best friend is in the hospital, her boyfriend is a cheater. A drug-dealing cheater it would seem, after finding a stash of Nostalgex in his bag.

Nostalgex: a drug that stimulates memory. In small doses, a person can remember the order of a deck of cards, or an entire revision guide read the day before an exam. In larger doses it allows the user detailed access to their past, almost like watching a DVD with the ability to pause a moment in time, to focus on previously unnoticed details and to see everything they've ever experienced with fresh eyes. As Leon, the local dealer, says 'it's like life, only better.' What he fails to mention is that most memories are clouded by emotions. Even the most vivid memories can look very different when visited.

Across town Sam Cooper is in trouble. Again. This time, gagged and bound in the boot of a car. Getting on the wrong side of a drug dealer is never a good idea, but if he doesn't make enough money to feed and clothe his sister, who will?

On New Year's Day, Jess and Cooper's worlds collide. They must put behind their differences and work together to look into their pasts to uncover a series of events that will lead them to know what really happened on that fateful New Year's Eve. But what they find is that everything they had once believed to be true, turns out to be a lie ...

What I wanted: a book about a crazy drug that increased mental capacity and allowed people to live out their memories,  What I go: a book about the most boring teenagers on the face of the earth making terrible decisions that put their lives in danger.  Needless to say, this book was just not for me.  The effects of the drug, which I wanted to be the main feature of the plot, seemed more of a gimmick to have the characters remember important details in a suspenseful manner.  I was really disappointed in this because I could see huge potential for the idea of a drug that allowed people to relive their best (or worst) memories.  How many people who had lost loved ones would fall into a drug induced haze so that they could hold them one last time?  How many people with traumatic experiences would be further devastated by reliving those memories on a bad trip?  How might people use the drug in order to cheat on entrance exams or stay ahead of the curve - imagine if it had to be tested for the same way steroids are tested for in the sporting world!  Unfortunately, The Memory Hit didn't explore any of those avenues.  We had one instance of cheating on tests and two where a character took the drug to try and find the big bad guy.  In both of the latter, they devolved into the dullest relationship montage ever. 
The novel is filled with YA cliches.  The oh-so-special main character whom every boy wants.  The love interests who fight over her.  The absentee parents - lets pause a moment there - what the heck was wrong with her father?  First of all, she escapes a fire, goes to the hospital, runs around the town, goes back to the hospital and her father is nowhere to be found?  If my kid was in that situation and I hadn't heard from her I would be blowing up her phone and scouring the streets!  To make matter worse, when her (ex?) boyfriend pushes her away, leaving her bleeding against a brick wall, her father (who apparently was watching the whole time) waits for her ex-ex boyfriend to decide whether or not he was going to fight the guy and then calmly sends the kids home.  What the Hell?!  My father would murder the guy for even THINKING about laying a hand on me.  
The characters are B-O-R-I-N-G.  They have zero personality and make THE WORST DECISIONS EVER!  I feel like this whole problem could have been solved if any of the teenagers had gone to the police or at least one of the adults (like Jag's awesome dad).  They also do things that seem completely out of character with little or no coercion or explanation.  There is a twist of the most ludicrous invention.  The identity of the Big Baddie makes NO sense and I do not buy that this person was able to run a successful drug ring and risked it all in order to blackmail one kid into dealing.  Not to mention the fact that arson is the easiest murder weapon to go awry and at least one of the places they torched should have had tons of video cameras or the fact that no police seem to be bothering to try and find whoever keeps setting places on fire!

Bottom Line: Despite a killer idea for the drug causing all of these issues, The Memory Hit squanders it and is just a mess.  Do No Hit It. 

Teaching/Parental Notes:

16 and up
Sex: Kissing
Violence: Death by Fire, Death by Gunshot, Fist Fighting, Child Abuse
Inappropriate Language: Shit
Substance Use/Abuse: Use of fictional drug, underage drinking, smoking


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