Book Review:  The Memory Index, by Julian Ray Vaca

Image belongs to Thomas Nelson.

TitleThe Memory Index    
Author:  Julian Ray Vaca
Genre:   Scifi, YA
Rating:  3.0 out of 5

In an alternative 1987, a disease ravages human memories. There is no cure, only artificial recall. The lucky ones–the recollectors–need the treatment only once a day.

Freya Izquierdo isn’t lucky. The high school senior is a “degen” who needs artificial recall several times a day. Plagued by blinding half-memories that take her to her knees, she’s desperate to remember everything that will help her investigate her father’s violent death. When her sleuthing almost lands her in jail, a shadowy school dean selects her to attend his Foxtail Academy, where five hundred students will trial a new tech said to make artificial recall obsolete.

She’s the only degen on campus. Why was she chosen? Freya is nothing like the other students, not even her new friends Ollie, Chase, and the alluring Fletcher Cohen. Definitely not at all like the students who start to vanish, one by one. And nothing like the mysterious Dean Mendelsohn, who has a bunker deep in the woods behind the school.

Nothing can prepare Freya and her friends for the truth of what that bunker holds. And what kind of memories she’ll have to access to survive it.

This felt very cliched and unpolished to me—kind of like a bad 80s movie. With a twist, of course, but all in all, the characters were more caricatures than believable people. Even if I believed the basic set-up of the story—Memory Killer is a mysterious disease that erases random memories that can be retrieved by watching a tape of the incident in question—I would not believe the deus ex machina that takes place after Freya and her friends get caught on their little jaunt in the woods. In short, this just didn’t work for me.

Julian Ray Vaca lives in Nashville. The Memory Index is his newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Thomas Nelson in exchange for an honest review.)

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