Review: Memento Nora by Angie Smibert

Memento Nora
by Angie Smibert

ISBN-13: 9-780761-458296
Published: April 2011 by Marshall Cavendish Children’s Books
Rating: 4.5 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I really liked it!

On an otherwise glossy day, a blast goes off and a body thuds to the ground at Nora’s feet. There are terrorist attacks in the city all the time, but Nora can’t forget.

In Nora’s world you don’t have to put up with nightmares. Nora goes with her mother to TFC – a Therapeutic Forgetting Clinic. There, she can describe her horrible memory and take a pill to erase it so she can go on like nothing ever happened. But at TFC a chance encounter with a mysterious guy changes Nora’s life. She doesn’t take the pill. And when Nora learns the memory her mother has chosen to forget, she realizes that someone needs to remember.

With newfound friends Micah and Winter, Nora makes a comic book of their memories called Memento. Memento is an instant hit, but it sets off a dangerous chain of events. Will Nora, Micah, and Winter be forced to take the Big Pill that will erase their memories forever?

Living in a world where terrorist attacks are so common place that there are clinics where citizens can go to have their memory of witnessing an attack erased, Nora witnesses a boy spit out his pill as he winks at her. She makes the quick decision to do the same, and so begins a journey into discovering whether everything society has been told, and forgets, is real or staged.

Memento Nora is a book that delves into what it means to be able to forget anything bad that you see, or happens to you. It explores a government that doesn’t answer to anyone except the companies that have more power than they do, and how even a few people can cause enough of a stir that those in power become nervous and silence the voices rising against them. After Nora sees Micah choose to remember at a Forgetting Clinic, she does the same. Joined by Micah’s friend Winter, the three begin an underground comic called Memento, detailing the events that they choose to remember, when everyone else would have them forget. They join in on trying to discover if the terrorist attacks that happen in the city are actually acts of terrorism, or horrible acts committed by the government and companies for money, and to keep the population complacent.

Nora, Micah and Winter are great together. All three have such distinct personalities that really shine through in the writing. And yet, they are so similar. All three, brave, damaged teens who just want to make sense of the world they live in and have some closure to the problems in their lives. The alternating viewpoints gives great depth to the story – we’re not just seeing one side of the action, but all of it, and how it clicks together. I thought the pacing was a little fast at points, but it kind of lends itself to the desperate feel behind the plot, and how Nora, Micah and Winter are determined to get their message heard, even at cost to their own safety.

As with all stories that are scary looks into what a future may look like, it was gritty and glossy all at once. On the surface, it doesn’t seem so bad, until you get to the terrorist/forgetting/deadly underbelly. The revelations shown throughout the story as Nora uncovers more of what is going on – especially in connection with her own family – are often heartbreaking. Memento Nora is a quick but intense read, and the end was so expected and yet not. It’s one of those stories where you know something is coming but you wish so hard that you’ll be wrong and things will be different than what the plot is leading you to believe will happen. So well done.

Memento Nora is part of the 2011 Debut Author Challenge hosted by The Story Siren.