(Don't You) Forget About Me - Kate Karyus Quinn
To borrow from a particularly brilliant review on Goodreads: "Holy Crap!"
Welcome to Gardnerville.
A place where no one gets sick. And no one ever dies.
Except... There's a price to pay for paradise.Even as the land of Gardnerville magically heals and lengthens lifespans, death and destruction within the magical town is almost more accepted and widespread than the healing properties that bring so many to live there in the first place. Would you move to a place with no disease, a place where so many live over 100 years, knowing that every four years things will go to hell? What would you do?
You'll second-guess everything after reading (Don't You) Forget About Me, I guarantee it!
People have supernatural abilities as well: some can read minds, others can influence people with almost no effort, and on fourth years, things get crazy! In a fourth year, someone's fist might turn into a brick right before a punch, or someone just might make you jump off a bridge. Good times all around, right?
The February 4th when sweet little Danny Marker turned five people into statues just by shaking their hands. Or the August 19th when identical twins Olive and Olivia Snow had a disagreement over whether that day's matching outfits would be plaid or polka-dot. Neither would give way, and the argument escalated until in the same breath they each wished the other to the ends of the earth. Before they could inhale again, both girls blinked out of existence.Our wonderfully unreliable narrator, Skylar, routinely takes forget-me-nots, purple pills that allow people to forget a day's worth of events (supposedly only the bad stuff, of course):
My mind runs through the memories again, but it's all fuzzy and then goes completely black. After I get some sleep and sweat out the rest of the forget-me-nots, it'll come back to me. Probably. Maybe.She finds herself, at the same time, trying to find and rescue her sister, Piper, who is locked away after leading sixteen classmates to an untimely death during one particularly horrible fourth year. While she tells us one thing in one chapter, she sometimes forgets by the next chapter, giving readers an inability to fully distinguish what the truth really is. This makes for a rewarding reading experience, in my opinion, tapping into the human propensity for denial when it comes to the horrific events that befall us from time to time (though in this case, those events happen almost on a daily basis.)
The plot is well-paced, subject is mysterious and quirky, and the mix of present and past narrative is engaging. Secondary characters are well constructed (some more than others, but enough overall that I didn't find anyone terribly lacking!) I love Foote, and I found myself wanting to know all about him. Elton is infuriating, but also complex, and Piper was really interesting as she was described mostly through the perspective of our narrator, Skylar.
Piper would've loved this. All the tension and anger in the room, it's an explosion only needing a spark—and that was a role Piper was born to play. I don't have Piper's flair, so instead I take the part of the wet blanket.Quinn dives right into things, and it does take a few chapters to get things sorted out, but I feel that some of the confusion and uneasiness is a compelling component of the book. It may frustrate readers who are expecting answers and a straightforward story, but as long as they stick with it, I feel that Quinn's audience will find themselves satisfied.
As another Goodreads review says, "go into this with no expectations and enjoy the strange craziness," and I can't help but suggest the same.
(Note: This review is from and Advanced Reading Copy - Out June 10, 2014)