Book Review – Memory by Linda Nagata
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I very much enjoyed this and there is a real sense of both the characters and the setting developing over the course of the story. The back cover blurb describes it thus:
“A quest, a puzzle, and multiple lives: On an artificial world with a forgotten past, floods of “silver” rise in the night like fog, rewriting the landscape and consuming those caught in its cold mists. Seventeen-year-old Jubilee knows that no one ever returns from the silver–but then a forbidding stranger appears, asking after her beloved brother, lost long ago to a silver flood. Could he still be alive? And why does the silver rise ever higher, threatening to drown the world? Jubilee pursues the truth on a quest to unlock the memory of a past reaching back farther than she ever imagined.”
The first part of the book is a combination of world building and introducing the characters. The world is a strange and fascinating combination of fantasy and science fiction and there is still a lot of mystery to it even when you’ve read all the way to the end. The characters are continually reincarnating and slowly become aware of their past lives, or at least the skills they learnt during them as they live. The story is a combination of a coming of age, a roadtrip and a classic fantasy style quest (although there is an absence of big swords or sandals). Our main character, Jubilee, starts off trying to rescue her brother, and as she travels the scope of her mission creeps somewhat to become an attempt to save the world. Her role is a pivotal one amongst the ‘players’ of the world (as they style themselves). In each reincarnation she has tried to act to end the danger posed by the silver, and as she remembers more and more of these through a series of troubling dreams and flashbacks she determines to try and do something different this time.
There is also a tragic love in the best traditions of unrequited courtly love. Each player has one, and only one, designated lover in the world, and many spend lifetimes looking for theirs. Jubilee finds hers quickly, although he is on the other side of the world past some very dangerous areas. Part of the story is their brief distant relationship and their coming together, which isn’t all that they would hope for.
The ending carries a little twist, and it isn’t clear until very late on how things will resolve. Towards the last third of the book I didn’t want to put it down. The ending, when it came, was good, and I would love there to be more stories from this world.