"Each night when 16 year-old London Lane goes to sleep, her whole world disappears. In the morning, all that's left is a note telling her about a day she can't remember. The whole scenario doesn't exactly make high school or dating that hot guy whose name she can't seem to recall any easier. But when London starts experiencing disturbing visions she can't make sense of, she realizes it's time to learn a little more about the past she keeps forgetting-before it destroys her future.Forgotten by Cat Patrick
Part psychological drama, part romance, and part mystery, this thought-provoking novel will inspire readers to consider the what-if's in their own lives and recognize the power they have to control their destinies."
The concept behind Forgotten really intrigued me from the synopsis. However, in its execution I feel like it was just too bizarre to be handled the way it was. I think if London's memory had erased at 4:33 am every morning, and that was the only issue, I could have bought it much more easily. There have been case studies of individuals who have short-term memory loss, after all. But combine that with "remembering" the future and you open a whole other can of worms. First of all, if she can see the future and change the future...um, exactly how does that work? Why doesn't she see herself changing the future? Or see glimpses of a variety of possible futures, that depend on the choices she makes? We don't really know how she sees it, or what her limitations are, and the future "memories" are lacking in description; we are told what will happen rather than getting a peek at them along with London.
Secondly, nitty-gritty of her future-seeing aside...basically, she possesses a supernatural ability in an otherwise magic-less story. I'm pretty sure before I read Forgotten I saw some other reviews criticize it for having no explanation for this ability of London's, and I'm very much inclined to agree with them. The unbelievability quotient is simply over the top. Yes, we are given some revelations about her past that provide an explanation (albeit far-fetched and probably not scientifically viable) for the memory loss. But I don't see how that can be stretched to explain her future-seeing as well.
Honestly, I had a very difficult time connecting with any of the characters in this book, even the narrator London. I think this was partly due to the writing style, which I found rather dry and distancing, and also to the fact that we don't learn a lot about the characters' interests, hobbies or personality quirks. I'm not sure I could name one activity London enjoys doing in her spare time if I had to (I'm not counting hanging out with her friend or boyfriend). Her unusual memory problems define her and largely define her relationships and the storyline. Her whole life is basically just trying to get through each day, and at the beginning I did feel the frustration that anyone with a memory loss like hers must feel. After a while, however, it just became tiring to read about.
London's friend Jamie feels the most "alive" of any of them, yet even she is pretty much the required best friend sidekick. Sure, she and London have a fight partway through, but you know they will patch things up by the end. How can you be so sure? Well, a) that's usually how BFF arguments end up getting resolved, and b) London "remembers" the future in any case.
Luke is introduced as the perfect guy: attractive, charming, considerate — and unfortunately lacking much depth. He doesn't seem to have any flaws; at one point I remember wondering if I could trust him. Thankfully we do find out a bit more about him through a revelation that explains his interest in London and gives their relationship at least some dimension, but I still wasn't crazy about him by the end. (But he does have an obsession with ears that makes him a bit more distinctive...even if it does weird me out.) I did feel kind of sorry for him though, because he has a girlfriend who wakes up every single day and doesn't remember him; frankly I didn't really get why he stuck with her.
The only other really central character is London's mom, and I had a hard time understanding how she could be so blasé about London's memory problems. I mean, yes, it's been years and they haven't found a medical explanation, but her mom really takes it all in stride and doesn't seem to be too concerned about it. If I had a daughter and she forgot each day but "remembered" the future, I'd be more than a little worried. The relationship dynamic between London and her mom is interesting, though; at some points they seem almost more like friends than mother/daughter, and London confides in her more closely than many teens we see in YA do.
There didn't really seem to be one central storyline here, which meant the book lacked direction or much momentum. There's a plot revolving around London's relationship with Luke, another with her friend Jamie, and a third — the most mysterious and significant, I think — related to her unsettling visions of a funeral. Each of these seems to get resolved without too much work on London's part. Okay, she does take steps to get her friendship with Jamie back on track, but since she knew she'd be friends with her in the future...was that really necessary at all? And as for the funeral storyline, there appeared to be some build-up and a few revelations, but then no climactic scene. It was like the action was over before it even began, and London herself isn't really even involved in its resolution — she just finds out about it afterward. Spoilery details, highlight to read: once London's memory of her brother's kidnapping is conveniently triggered and she sees that in the future Luke will die, the police use her clues to discover the house with the stolen children and find out that London's brother's "body" was really a body stolen from the morgue.
And I'm assuming there's a sequel, because there's at least one plot thread completely left dangling. Spoiler: what about Luke dying in the future? Not resolved at all.
Also, given the unique premise, you'd think this would be a gripping read. But I found the opposite to be true — there were so many mundane minuscule details included that I kept losing interest. There were a few scenes that would pull me back into it — usually ones that played on London's memory problems, leading to unexpected situations (spoilery example: I really liked the scene where her memory resets while she's out with Luke and then she wakes up and has no idea where she is or who she's with). And I did like some of the unexpected twists, especially the one involving Luke. But then it would go back to recounting every little encounter that London has, however commonplace. She's constantly forgetting the same things and having similar kinds of conversations, so it gets repetitive. And you can have the most fascinating premise in the world, but if your book is lacking in plot it can only take you so far.
Like I mentioned before, I found the writing kind of dry and clinical, with more telling than showing happening for London's emotional reactions. There wasn't anything blatantly wrong with it, but it didn't sparkle, and some of the dialogue felt inauthentic and stilted. There's also a bit of a disconnect between London's POV and what the reader experiences. London is used to her memory problems and so she's not usually surprised or confused that she forgets the past, or conversely "remembers" something from the future. But to the reader, this is all new and it's frustrating to try to keep track of what London knows, since we can remember everything that's gone on and London can't. I'm not sure there would be any way to really make the reader "forget" along with London, but I just wasn't on the same page as her. Overall, it makes for a confusing reading experience.
Final verdict: 2 shooting stars. A premise with creative potential, but it just didn't happen for me in the execution. I didn't find myself caring about the characters and the whole story ended up feeling pretty pointless.
The Bookish Type
Poetry to Prose
Disclaimer: I received this book as an ARC from Big Honcho Media for review.