Disclaimer: An advanced reader’s copy of “Memory Reborn” was given to the newsroom in exchange for a fair and honest review.
At times, Steven M. Nedeau’s “Memory Reborn” seems like a grim prophecy about the dangers of virtual reality and its effect on our perceptions and memories, especially when placed in the hands of rich corporations. “Memory Reborn” is a science-fiction novel that I would class heavily as a modern dystopian work. The world set within Darien’s microcosm of a workplace certainly fits the mold. Taking place in the near future, the story follows Darien Mamon, a twenty-seven year old who is down on his luck and overloaded with debt (something many of us are well familiar with, though Darien’s circumstances are unique.) He has taken a job at the memory storage facility, MemorSingular, but all is not as it seems as he gets wrapped up in a plot to condition and rewrite employees memories.
Plot-wise, it is a twisty novel. Though I could easily guess where some aspects of the story were heading in the earlier chapters, as I went on and perspectives began to shift, it got harder to sleuth out not only where the story was going, but where character allegiances truly were. My only real gripe with the story was waiting for the twist that the plot summary had revealed to be known to the protagonist. It can be frustrating knowing a plot element that isn’t readily told to the protagonist and it isn’t revealed within the first ten chapters or so. Having some knowledge of what is happening to Darien, that just made me want to throttle him, since at times it seems like he should be able to put the puzzle pieces together.
Speaking of strangulation, I wanted to throttle Darien quite a bit, even outside of his lack of knowledge. There are times where he is a major jerk to those around him—though apparently not as much as he was when he was a child. Still, I think the circumstances in which he finds himself are sympathetic enough that you want to root for him regardless of whether or not you actually like him. Like, all around, this situation just sucks. There are still glimmers of the person Darien might have been if certain plot aspects had been different, and I think that raises the question of nature versus nurture on deciding personality, especially considering the role of fear within the overarching plot.
I enjoyed many of the side characters as well, despite loathing their motivations or alignment or how they talked about women. I particularly liked Lawrence the most during the early parts of the book. But the moments that this more-likable character had in which to shine were usually few and far between, as this was definitely Darien’s story. Nancy was another favorite of mine, because she was never afraid to make her opinion known and I do wish that she had popped up more often. I was waiting for her to make her first present day appearance from the start, but I can say I wasn’t disappointed when she did show up.
“Memory Reborn” is an enjoyable read that I recommend especially for those who enjoy harder science fiction. It sets the rules down of the technology that drives the plot and sticks by it to the end. If you’re looking for a definitive happy ending for the protagonist, I’d check elsewhere. Though I think I know what happened by the end and while I’d class it as a ‘happy’ ending, Nedeau spoke with me about how he likes to leave his reader questioning about the end and frankly, I’m second-guessing my own interpretation. Question you will.
“Memory Reborn” is available in print and e-book from both Barnes and Noble and Amazon.