Unremembered (2013) Review: What Stephanie Meyer’s “The Host” Should Have Been
When Freedom Airlines flight 121 went down over the Pacific Ocean, no one expected to find survivors. Which is why the sixteen-year-old girl discovered floating among the wreckage—alive—is making headlines across the globe. Even more strange is that her body is miraculously unharmed and she has no memories. Her only hope is a boy who claims they were once in love.
It was a surprise to me that the premise of Unremembered by Jessica Brody made me pick it off the shelf as I am not an avid reader. The AUS front cover which portrays a young, pretty girl surrounded by fire is hardly original or eye catching, so going off the picture alone is a bad move. Jessica Brody has only entered the novel scene the past couple of years. The Fidelity Files, her debut, was published in 2008, with The Karma Club being the first of her young adult novels making its way to shelves in 2009. Jessica’s preferred target audience appears to be women, as the majority of her books are coming of age, romances. Those who were fans of Sophie Kinsella or Meg Cabot will find a lot of comfort in her light hearted titles. Unremembered is Jessica’s first stab at romance science fiction, and this new direction invites a different audience: those who are fans of Stephanie Meyer.
From the minute you open the first page, Brody’s writing style strikes uncanny resemblance to Meyers. Unremembered is written in first person, with more focus on the sensations of emotions rather than deep, intrinsic description of locations, or beautiful prose and metaphor. It is a light read from the get go, with large font and chapters that fly by in flashes. Don’t expect it to be much else other than simple entertainment. There may not be any vampires, but the story unfolds so briskly it puts Meyer to shame.
This book improves on pacing and dialogue of titles like New Moon & Eclipse enormously. Every line of dialogue is important, and situations and conflicts don’t repeat themselves over and over. Despite it being a romance title the number of questionable, cheesy lines is very small. The plot itself isn’t intensely deep or complex, but it kept me guessing the entire time, and I was pleasantly surprised by the plot twists. My predictions of what the big reveal was going to be was false! Other strong similarities include references to Shakespeare and the main romantic interest. In Twilight our strong, silent, mysterious lover was Edward, in Unremembered he is Zen.
The biggest criticism I have of Unremembered that poked a hole in my bubble of enjoyment was the main male character: Zen. He is sadly the most unlikable character of all. He is obviously supposed to be alluring and charming, however, he is very flat with little to relate to. He has background story, but there is little attention given to personality flaws and just the things that make people human. There’s something about him which doesn’t make us swoon like Edward Cullen, even though he is not detestable. I just didn’t care. If the younger character Cody was older, I would much prefer the heroine end up with him, as he was a far more well rounded, likable character. Thankfully, the rest of the characters are likable. The heroine, Violet has very little personality (anime fans could see her as a Chii or Rei rip off) – but at least her lack of personality has justification. Our heroine is left to discover the world again on her own, and learn about the world around her.
Unremembered is a pile of cliche’s, but an entertaining bundle of cliches. While the amnesia plot has been used countless times (even more so in anime than any other medium), it unfolded in a way that was addictive and interesting. It ended appropriately on a cliffhanger, and it is clear that in further books a love triangle will form, as well as hopefully more likability factor for Zen. Even though it was flawed, it was a great read if you just want something light and entertaining. I recommend it to (you guessed it) any fans of Stephanie Meyer and even those who didn’t quite like her work beyond Twilight may enjoy Unremembered. It’s not the deepest thing in the world, but it keeps you guessing. Somewhat of a guilty pleasure, I am looking forward to the next in the franchise due in 2014.
What do you think? Leave a comment.