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A Reader of Fictions: Review: The Meme Plague

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Monday, August 12, 2013

Review: The Meme Plague

The Meme Plague
Memento Nora, Book 3

Author: Angie Smibert
Pages: Not sure - that information isn't on GR or Amazon, and I read a Kindle copy
Publisher: Marshall Cavendish
Publication Date: August 13, 2013
Read: August 8-10, 2013
Source: ARC via NetGalley

Description from Goodreads:
It begins with the name JONAS W. on the side of a cardboard coffin—right before the funeral procession blows up. Then it’s the whisper in the back of Micah’s head: Your father betrayed his country. You can’t always trust your own brain. Not when you have one of the mayor’s mandatory chips in your skull. Micah knows that the chip developed by TFC (the corporation that runs the Therapeutic Forgetting Clinics) does more than just erase unpleasant memories—it implants new ones. The MemeCast warns citizens to “fight the hack.”

Micah and his friends have each lost something—a parent, a relationship, a home, maybe even their own identities as they remembered them to be. But together, they can make sure some things are never forgotten.

Election Day is coming, and Mayor Mignon is set to be elected to Congress. It’s time to build a new electronic frontier, one that’s not controlled by the mayor and his cronies. It’s time to get out the vote and shake up the system. It’s time to finally say enough.

Previous Books in Series:
1: Memento Nora
2: The Forgetting Curve

First Sentence: "Okay, citizens."

As a dystopian series, The Meme Plague has enough going for it to outweigh the weaknesses. Most importantly, this series is not a romance novel masquerading as genre fiction, instead focusing on world building and issues very closely linked to the evils of the current political system in a far too close and possible future. I've enjoyed the whole of the trilogy, as quick reads that break from some of the common YA tropes.

For those who are unfamiliar with this series, here's a quick overview of the dystopian world of the Memento Nora trilogy. TFC, a corporation with strong ties to the government, runs clinics that help people forget their problems. Psychiatrists and pills are no longer needed to deal with traumatic events or emotions. PTSD no longer need affect soldiers, because these clinics can erase those memories, leaving the memory empty of the events that were disturbing the psyche. In Memento Nora, a group of kids came to suspect that TFC may not be on the up and up, instead using the clinics to control the population.

What endears this series to me most is the inclusion of both diverse and GLBT characters. In both cases, they are included without pomp and circumstance. Being a lesbian or being Asian/black/hispanic does not define these characters, but is merely one aspect about them. So rarely does this happen in young adult fiction and it thrills me any time I find that. Often, these characters end up being token or stereotypes or such a deal is made about them that it ends up stressing that they're weird when they're not. Angie Smibert does a great job making the cast of the trilogy as diverse as the world I'm used to living in.

The series has an entertaining, fast-paced plot. There are explosions, kissing, concerts of rebellion, legal battles, skateboarding, and attempts to overthrow the political system. All of the books are quite short, and I think this is an excellent series for reluctant readers interested in dystopian fiction but overwhelmed by the general offerings, which tend to be closer to 400 pages. In The Meme Plague especially, I was reminded of a less complex Little Brother, so it really could be a nice transition into the genre for younger or reluctant readers. The Meme Plague also brings the series to a satisfying conclusion, closed enough but also left open in a sort of traditional dystopian way.

Where the series has been and continues to be weak for me is in the characters. They're fun and entertaining, but there's a large cast and I have trouble telling their narrative voices apart. Told in first person from five perspectives (I think), if I didn't pay attention to the opening of each chapter which listed who the narrator was, I ended up having to flip back to do so. Still, I was able to remember each cast member and how they were all connected without too much trouble, even though I scarcely remembered the previous books, so that was nice.

All told, I recommend the Memento Nora trilogy highly to younger readers looking to transition to young adult fiction or reluctant readers in search of good, shorter dystopian novels.

Rating: 3/5

Favorite Quote: "Still, pizza would have made me more of a believer. Or less of a cranky agnostic."

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Blogger Unknown said...

Thanks for the review, Christina! I hadn't really paid much attention to this series, but you've definitely caught my interest with your quick series overview and the fact that it has LGBT/a diverse range of characters. I might go check out Memento Nora!

Tara @ Hobbitsies

August 12, 2013 at 5:01 PM  
Blogger Christina Reads YA said...

What an interesting title. I had no idea that Memento Nora was actually a series, but was immediately like... Meme plague? Have got to see what that book's about. Does the blogosphere suffer from this?

Er. Anyway. What you said about the world really intrigues me. There was a big deal over the "memory pill" a few years back because it worked as an adrenaline blocker and could help people suffering from PTSD have less intense reactions to the horrific memories in question. And the Bush administration, I believe, had said that the pill would erase our identities ("how long until people wanted to forget their boyfriends? would this pill be abused?" etc. etc.) and fought against it being mass distributed. Or researched. Something like that. But interesting nonetheless because the world in this series sounds like a slightly more extreme version of that.

"Being a lesbian or being Asian/black/hispanic does not define these characters, but is merely one aspect about them. So rarely does this happen in young adult fiction and it thrills me any time I find that. " Have you read or are you planning on reading Love in the Time of Global Warming? Another gem with diversity incorporated in that way.

Hmm, the characters' voices not being fully distinguishable from one another may be a deal breaker for me, no matter how interested I am in the dystopian setting. (FIVE? POVs? Across the series or in this one book?)

August 12, 2013 at 11:47 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

The series isn't mindblowing or anything, but I like that it adds Diversity to an otherwise meh plot. The whole thing was 3 stars all the way through, so I liked it, but wasn't super impressed. Would definitely give it to a younger teen though.

August 13, 2013 at 9:20 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Ha, well, the meme plague thing is explained in the book. It's more like "information is catching."

Oooh, so sort of like that movie with Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet? Eternal Sunshine! That's the one.

I've got that one coming up!

Ummm, I think there were multiple all along, but maybe not five.

August 13, 2013 at 9:27 AM  

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