Seventeen-year-old Flora Banks has no short-term memory. Her mind resets itself several times a day, and has since the age of ten, when the tumor that was removed from Flora’s brain took with it her ability to make new memories. That is, until she kisses Drake, her best friend’s boyfriend, the night before he leaves town. Miraculously, this one memory breaks through Flora’s fractured mind, and sticks. Flora is convinced that Drake is responsible for restoring her memory and making her whole again. So when an encouraging email from Drake suggests she meet him on the other side of the world, Flora knows with certainty that this is the first step toward reclaiming her life.
With little more than the words “be brave” inked into her skin, and written reminders of who she is and why her memory is so limited, Flora sets off on an impossible journey to Svalbard, Norway, the land of the midnight sun, determined to find Drake. But from the moment she arrives in the arctic, nothing is quite as it seems, and Flora must “be brave” if she is ever to learn the truth about herself, and to make it safely home.
I live in a place where there is the sea, and where things are green. This is somewhere different. This place is cold and clear. It cannot be real. I do not worry at all about where I am, because I know I am inside my head. It is magical here and I don’t want to wake up.
I’d been meaning to read this book for quite some time but as I’m sure many of you have also experienced, I had so many amazing books to get through that it slipped down the pile.
I was really looking forward to it though, the blurb really sold me on the story and I couldn’t wait to read Flora’s adventure. Unfortunately, this book wasn’t as good as I was hoping for.
Don’t get me wrong it was an interesting read, the writing was very easy to follow and the concept of the protagonist having no short-term memory sounded brilliant, however, there were a lot of things that for me worked against this book.
First off was Flora herself, maybe it’s just me but I found it really difficult to feel much for her, there were points that I did feel sorry for her but I wasn’t rooting for her at all. It’s very hard to go into more detail on this without giving away too much of the plot, however, I did wonder if it was maybe because of how young and childish she was. I know a lot of it was due to her condition but it did at points feel like it was aimed at a younger audience than YA.
The story itself took a few turns that I wasn’t keen on and there were also some inaccuracies that could again just be my logic but for someone who immediately believes they are ten to be able to use a smartphone and wrangle an airport without thinking twice seemed really improbable.
I mean I am classed as a responsible adult (I may disagree with the prognosis but it doesn’t change it) with no memory issues and I find airports hellish, stressful and leave me close to tantrums, so how she manages to get through one without having a meltdown or someone noticing seems a bit ridiculous. Also for parents who are so protective their behaviour at a certain point in the book is absurd, I would love to rant a bit more about this but again it’ll spoil it for anyone who wants to pick it up.
The next thing that got me was how repetitive it was, I know she has amnesia and of course the story was bound to be repetitive and for a part of the book I thought this was used well (there’s a recurring jam jar that I particularly like). However, the more that Flora spoke about Drake the more annoyed I got. I realise that he is a catalyst for quite a momentous thing for her but it began to get on my nerves.
Also I know her determination to find Drake stems from a need to see if it will help her condition but I think it went a bit too strong on that and the message started to feel like “the boy will save me”, which also started to put me off. Again I can’t say too much about it so as not to spoil things but I really wish that brother had made more of an appearance, he could have made a very credible catalyst.
This was an entertaining read and maybe if I was younger it would work for me, I think there will be plenty of people who will like this book and it is definitely a concept I’ve not come across before. For me, though it just fell shy of its potential.
Thank you to Penguin Random House and Netgalley for the review copy of this book.