(Image from Barnes & Noble)
The walled city of Canaan provides a safe, protected atmosphere for its small population. Citizens go to school, work their jobs, care for their families, and—most important of all—write daily entries in the books they keep on their person at all times. They're instructed to pen only the truth. Fanciful scribblings will not help them when the Forgetting comes. Only honesty will let them remember who they are when the veil of forgetfulness drops over Canaan and everyone's memories are wiped clean. Without a book, a person has no identity, no family, no position in the community. They are Lost, a fate almost worse than death.
Nadia, the dyer's daughter, is unlike anyone else in her isolated village. Every 12 years, every person in Canaan loses their memories completely. Not the quiet teenager. She never forgets. Nadia is the only one who knows that some people use the Forgetting to purposely erase their identities or to commit unsavory acts, the consequences of which they will never have to face. Even the perpetrator won't remember what he/she has done. With the time of Forgetting fast approaching, Nadia is wary. What will happen on this night of danger and chaos? Nadia's hateful older sister has a sinister plan—surely she's not the only one.
When Gray—the handsome glassblower's son—catches Nadia slipping over the wall into the forbidden beyond, he gives her even more reason to worry. Not only are the pair growing closer, but they're discovering some shocking secrets about Canaan. With the Forgetting only days away, Nadia is desperate not to lose Gray. She needs him—not just to confront the Council with what they know, but also to fill the emptiness in her aching heart. How can Nadia make him remember? Can she survive if everything Gray knows about their duty, their friendship, and their love just ... disappears? If a person doesn't live in another's memory, do they even exist at all?
The Forgetting, a new YA novel by Sharon Cameron, explores some fascinating issues about memory, truth, and identity. While the story's set-up is a little confusing at first, the rules of Canaan society soon become evident, allowing the novel's tense, exciting plot to take center stage. The characters are complex, engaging, and empathetic. Nadia and Gray make an appealing couple whose love grows naturally. Their romance offers an engaging subplot, but one that never upstages the real story. All of these elements come together to create a taut, fast-paced tale with surprising twists and turns. It's the unsettling philosophical questions it asks, however, that make The Forgetting so compelling. Who are we now—and who will we become—if we have no memories of who we've been? Without our memories, is life even worth living? And, the most disquieting question of all: What would you do on the night of Forgetting if you knew no one—not even yourself—would remember it come morning? Despite the chilling implications proposed by these questions, The Forgetting is, at its heart, a hopeful tale. A perfect read to start off the new year, I loved this book and recommend it wholeheartedly to anyone who enjoys an engrossing yarn that truly has it all.
(Readalikes: Hm, I can't really think of anything. Can you?)
If this were a movie, it would be rated:
for violence, blood/gore, and mild sexual innuendo
To the FTC, with love: I bought a copy of The Forgetting from Amazon with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger. Ha ha.