I read, I write, and I majored in German and Muggle Studies. my favorite genres are historical fiction, science fiction, and fantasy. Lookout for reviews of the YA and MG persuasions!
title: Tabula Rasa
author: Kristen Lippert-Martin
published by: Egmont USA, Sept. 23rd 2014
*I received a copy via Edelweiss/EgmontUSA in exchange for an honest review.
summary, courtesy of Goodreads:
"The Bourne Identity meets Divergent in this heart-pounding debut.
Sixteen-year-old Sarah has a rare chance at a new life. Or so the doctors tell her. She’s been undergoing a cutting-edge procedure that will render her a tabula rasa—a blank slate. Memory by memory her troubled past is being taken away.
But when her final surgery is interrupted and a team of elite soldiers invades the isolated hospital under cover of a massive blizzard, her fresh start could be her end.
Navigating familiar halls that have become a dangerous maze with the help of a teen computer hacker who's trying to bring the hospital down for his own reasons, Sarah starts to piece together who she is and why someone would want her erased. And she won’t be silenced again.
A high-stakes thriller featuring a non-stop race for survival and a smart heroine who will risk everything, Tabula Rasa is, in short, unforgettable."
I read this one in one go. The summary promised action, and it definitely delivered. I really admire Ms. Martin's ability to translate space and movement onto paper, because it really was very impressive. However, the characters and neatly nestled plot pieces prevented me from taking most of it seriously.
First, the plot. I am going to tread lightly around the spoilers, and just point out that at the beginning, it had me very intrigued. I mean, could you imagine that sort of medical technology? It's quite a concept. But then the familiar evil corporation explanation surfaced, and the characters weakened the execution to such a degree that the super cool concept became a background to a soap-opera-y (it's not a word, sorry) drama.
Onto the characters. Well, to start, the only protagonist that had much depth at all was Sarah. Her character comes across as immensely strong, though, and you pull for her all the way. At least until the sudden love between her and the other protagonist, Thomas, really snarls everything up. Thomas also has a tragic past that is very strange, to say the least. When he reveals his secret to Sarah, I couldn't help but think, with some glee, "hey, maybe this kid actually did something" but as it turns out,
his little rebellion caused his wild sister to lose control of her vehicle and die from the ensuing accident. So he's not actually very bad... Is h?. Not much struck me as being different about Thomas--he was more of a blank slate himself, onto which a reader could project most typical personalities for a young hacker. The secondary characters winked in and out of existence. They seemed to only serve to move the plot forward.
And the villain(s). Here lies the rub. The main baddie, a caricature of a woman named Evangeline Hodges, made little sense at all to me. She was outrageously over the top and so outrageously "bad" that I couldn't take her at all seriously. I was reminded vaguely of the His Dark Materials trilogy, as far as her character goes. I don't think "8-bit" the hacker was really much of a villain, but he didn't make much sense, either, and we don't actually get to meet any of the Claymores. Though this issue is entangled hopelessly with the plot, I couldn't help but feel everything tied up way too nicely. The "why I did it" villain speech at the end went on for far too long and made it feel as if way too much had been held back just for the sake of that one moment. I won't name spoilers, but it made me roll my eyes a few times.
What makes me so disappointed about this one was the lack of impact the super cool concept made on the entire story. I didn't want it to fade into the background. I would much rather read about that than basically the last half of the book. Or what about Sarah's fight against the housing development that resulted in her fame in the first place? I would snap that up in a heartbeat. Wasted opportunities make me so sad... And the action in this book was so good!
plot: • • •
pace: • • • •
"hook" / "wow" factor: • • •
average: 2.75 / 5
recommendation: for readers who want a lightning-fast read with a few twists mixed in.