Reading for Me

The Books I Have Read…..Just for Me

#32: The Memory Thief (Emily Colin)

on December 31, 2012

At Christmas dinner, my nephew-in-law (Is that the correct term for the man who married my niece?) asked if he could expect to see my 32nd book review completed before the end of the year. I wasn't completely sure I would make it since I was suffering from brain damage a broken pinkie toe and didn't feel very intellectual at the moment. I'm happy to say that I DID finish the book on the last day of 2012, which allows me to proudly say that I topped last year's number of books read by 1. (Nothing like waiting until the last minute to mark another resolution off of the list!)

The Memory Thief is the first novel of author Emily Colin. The book traces the story of Maddie and her young son, Gabe. Maddie was married to a mountain climber, Aidan, who was killed in a Alaskan climbing accident and his body has not been recovered. On the same day as Aidan's accident, Nicholas, a teacher in North Carolina, was involved in an automobile accident. Though Nicholas survived, his memory has been completely wiped clean. He now begins to experience memories of another life — the life of Aidan.

With lots of twists, turns, and surprise developments, The Memory Thief is definitely a page-turner that keeps the reader guessing how things will ultimately work out for everyone involved. The primary characters of Maddie, Nicholas, Aidan, and JC (Aidan's best friend and fellow climber) are beautifully developed with charm, wit, and compassion. I found myself sad to leave these new-found friends behind when I reached the final pages of the novel. I won't be surprised if Emily Colin publishes another work that continues the story of these exquisite characters.

While I thoroughly enjoyed the book, I must point out what I perceived as a few of its flaws. It seems that there is a trend in mainstream fiction at the moment to tell stories from multiple perspectives, shifting narrators with each chapter. I enjoy the use of this technique, but found myself confused by the shifts occasionally. For instance, when a chapter attributed to Nicholas begins with a dream he is seeing from Aidan's perspective, the duality of the narration made the storyline unclear and perplexing. As I continued reading, I became aware of Colin's use of italics to signal these occurrences; even though I was aware of them, it didn't necessarily make them easier to handle.

Secondly, I'm not certain Colin was always aware of the intended audience. The story essentially is one of the timelessness of love and was character driven from the beginning. Thrust into the story line were extensive descriptions of romantic escapades in Maddie's life. While I understand the reason for including these episodes in the story itself, I found myself wondering why a cheap romance novel had been slipped into this beautiful love story. While the scenes certainly raised the temperature of this Colorado-based story, the steaminess left this reader feeling dirty and that the romance was becoming nothing more than a tawdry roll in the sheets. Along the same lines, I found some of the language used off-putting. I know that words have power to express emotion (that's why I love to read and write), but I found the use of mundane vulgarity in intense scenes lessened their impact….especially after reading some wonderfully crafted sentences leading up to the climax. In many ways, it felt as though Colin was taking the easy way out of dealing with authentic emotion.

Lastly, I must admit that the idea of possession (a term which was finally used on p. 372 of the novel) made me a little uncomfortable. By the time the author clearly identified what was going on, I was so near the end of the story that I needed to know how things were going to turn out. The only thing that made me feel a “little” better was that it was not suggested as an evil possession; rather it was a individual's spirit attempting to bring closure to situations before moving into the afterlife. Morally, it's still not something I am entirely comfortable with, but I must admit that I enjoyed reading the novel as a work of fiction. I will be interested to see if this metaphysical trend continues in Colin's future works. Personally, I hope not.

I enjoy exploring the first works of authors. Based upon my experience with The Memory Thief, I am looking forwarding to reading Emily Colin's next novel.

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