Saturday, 25 June 2011

Book Review 6: My Name is Memory

Book Title: My Name is Memory
Author: Ann Brashares
Price: P354.00 (National Bookstore, paperback)
Genre: Romance
Number of Pages:  401
Personal Rating: 4/10 
Reading Difficulty: Very Easy (1/5)

Book Summary:

Daniel tells me that he's always loved me. That I always have.

He says he is always searching for me. Not just in this life, but in my last life, and all my lives before. Always hoping that one day I will remember.

But it is only he that carries the memory of our love.

I know that finding true love is never easy, But I hope your own quest ends happily.

I hope you never have to face the heartbreak that inevitably awaits us.

This is our extraordinary, unforgettable story.

Personal Insights:

Before I start, I want you to know that the author of this book, Ms. Anne Brashares is also the author of the series called "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants." That is the reason why I persuaded my sister to buy this book instead of Charlie St. Cloud. I've read the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series and I was really happy with it so I thought that this book would be a good follow- up seeing that it was also Ann Brashares who wrote it. Oh, how wrong I was! I shouldn't have raised my expectations that high! I also shouldn't have taken a liking to the cover of the book; like the saying goes, "don't judge a book by its cover." That saying is usually applied to good books with ugly book covers. Apparently, it also works vice versa: nice book cover, ugly story. 

I'm sorry if I will be harsh in this book review, but I'm just really disappointed. I hated almost everything about it. It wasn't well thought of, I kind of just got that feeling while reading it. The plot could have been more complicated, but it  was oversimplified. The romantic scenes were so shallow, it had no effect at all such as the 'kilig' factor. The characters also had no sense of growth even though they had ample time for it, especially Daniel who lived across different milieus. All in all, I rated it 4 out of 10 for a reason. That's not even a passing score so you should get a gist of how dissatisfied I am with this book.

What didn't work for me? As I've said, everything. I'll tell you a little bit of the plot in this section. The protagonist is called Daniel. Out of billions of people, he's one of the few ones who "remembers." When I say 'remembers,' that means he remembers things from his past lives. He can also recognize souls whereas normal people like us also get reincarnated, but we neither remember our past lives nor recognize other souls. Complications in Daniel's life arrived during his first lifetime in Byzantium when he was a soldier and he burned down Sophia's hut, thinking that her family's part of the enemy camp. Seeing Sophia's face while watching her hut burn, Daniel felt a lot of remorse, which he still remembered lifetime after lifetime. He kept wishing to find Sophia once again to apologize and when he did, Sophia's next reincarnated form was as his brother's wife. So basically, that's the start of their rocky love story. After several lifetimes, they meet once again in the modern era (around year 2005, or something). As usual, Daniel retained most of his memory whereas Sophia, now known as Lucy, kept refusing Daniel's advances towards her. 

The plot seems nice. It is, but I just didn't like how it was written. Like I've mentioned before, it could have been more complicated, but it was oversimplified. Ann Brashares no longer elaborated on why Daniel's feelings for Sophia transformed from wanting to apologize to loving her. Some aspects of the story were also added without having any significance to the overall plot. For example, why did Lucy have to sleep with her best friend's brother? I don't get it. It wasn't explained why. Her feelings after doing the deed were also not explored so I don't understand why that was needed. Also, some aspects were so convenient like the fortune teller. Her identity wasn't given much light anymore even though she's supposedly just a normal teenager. Ben also is a real enigma. His character may be a form of deus ex machina, but I hate the fact that he does a lot of things without explaining them. It's just so frustrating. There were so many things that needed tying up to make this story seem more unified. The only thing that I liked about this book is how observant Daniel is-- it's like a form of Psychology or at least a pseudo branch of it. He described ways on how he detects souls by looking at their physical characteristics. You can look at it below, under my favorite excerpts section.

So, would I recommend it? No. I'm sorry for being harsh, but I'm just being honest by claiming that this book just didn't reach my standards. Teens MIGHT enjoy this, but seeing that there's a lot of things lacking in this book such as the description of the characters looks (which teens look for), I don't see how they would grow to appreciate this. 

Favorite Excerpts:

She is my doing and undoing. She always had been. And what a price she had paid for it too.

I obeyed orders with absolute literalness. I didn't question my superiors, not even in the privacy of my mind. I was fully committed, ready to kill, ready to die for my cause.

We naturally guard ourselves from the obvious truths of strangers around us.

One of the skills of living is simplifying as you go, so when you let your guard down, the complexity is troubling.

As you look at this stranger's face, you will be able to guess pretty accurately at age, background, and social class. Doubts, compromises and disappointments little and big-- those usually reside around the eyes. The hopes lurk around the mouth, but so do bitterness and tenacity. A sense of humor is easy to spot around the eyebrows, and so is self- deception. Add to your observations the set of the head on the neck, the carriage of the shoulders, the posture of the back, and you know a lot more. These are the accumulated qualities of the soul, and they are expressed in life after life. 

There are short periods of joy you have to stretch through a lot of empty ears, me more than most. You have to make them last as well as you can. 

Touch was a rudimentary sense, not so variable and not likely to get better with repetition. If anything, repetition made you feel a little less with each touch. As he saw it, anticipation and habit were two of the nastiest parasites of old souls and long experience. They fed on repetition and crowded out your eager sense over time until nothing felt new anymore. 

He had recognition, precognition and everything in between. He seemed to contain the omniverse, with or without the structure of time. And his knowledge wasn't limited  to his experience in the world, as far as I could tell. Once I read a poem about a man with an imagination so great it became the story of the world, and it made me think of Ben.

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