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Kate Bond

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False Memory

False Memory - Dan Krokos Last night I was on a date with my husband and he brought up the subject of men writing from the perspective of a first-person narrator who is female. He had just read a short story (by Hampton Fancher maybe?) in which he wasn’t initially sure whether the narrator was a man or a woman. David (my husband), who is a brilliant and prolific writer, is unusually good, for a straight man, at writing female characters with a female voice—some of his best-loved characters are female—but as he writes for television, this has never really come up for him before. He was confused as to what it is about the feminine experience (particularly that of teenagers) that men have a hard time capturing.And this is why I so admire what Dan Krokos has done with False Memory. Miranda North is a complex, strong, genuinely female character. Beyond that, the novel’s supporting characters are a pretty even split of strong men and women with distinctive personalities. I know. Crazy.The novel opens with Miranda wandering through a mall, with no specific memories of anything but her name. Things deteriorate pretty quickly, and after the mall clears out, with five people having plunged over the railing to their deaths, our heroine is left alone with one teenage boy—Peter—in the food court. And Peter is unaffected by whatever terrified everyone else.I was initially annoyed by the protagonist’s memory loss, and it seemed to kind of function as an exposition machine in a way that is very convenient for the author, but I got over that pretty quickly as I became immersed in this world where Miranda, Peter, Noah, and Olive have a condition that requires them to take a shot every morning to prevent them from developing crazy amnesia. This is also the point where I began to suspect the book’s title of being a massive fucking spoiler.He skids to a stop and I almost crash into him. I steady myself with a palm on his back. Instantly I want to take my hand away, but he pretends not to notice, and I don’t want to be awkward. Miranda’s voice, and the feel we get for the other characters through her, is strong and distinctive enough to have kept me going when the first third of the book began to have that awful teenagers-on-a-scavenger-hunt feel, and I’m glad I did, because it really blossoms into a rich, well-drawn story.The action is really well done, too--fully half of this book is people fighting each other (with swords, sticks, rocks, guns, etc.) or climbing/jumping off buildings, and it's all described just beautifully. In fact, the author's descriptive language throughout the novel is fantastic--he shows admirable restraint with adverbs while managing not to sketch things out in too spare a manner.Even the love triangle didn’t bother me, in part because by the end of the novel it ‘s essentially a love pyramid, which feels like how relationships function in real life, but also because the protagonist is essentially two people—the girl she was before the amnesia set in, and the girl who wakes up and accidentally kills a bunch of people in a mall. She can remember bits of her relationship with Noah, but they don’t connect to any emotions within her because romantic feelings have to grow organically.I could write about this book all day. It's really good Science Fiction, and it should appeal to an audience outside the YA world. I highly recommend it.