Nothing But Your Memories by H. B. Clementine
Author: H. B. Clementine
Release Date: November 24, 2014
Dates Read: June 25-26, 2015
“I knew it. As I lie on a white bed in a white room with white light filtering in through the shade on the window, I know it has finally happened. The Shift is complete.”
The radically new lifestyle of the Alternation of Generation world has more flaws than it may seem. A young woman named Mira Cobbleson has awoken for the first time in her new “body” with a feeling of unease. The Fisk, the city she is assigned to, seems too perfect to be real, but can it be any worse than the overcrowded cities and cramped apartments of life before the Shift? She stumbles upon others who feel it is worse, and they want to escape. Mira joins forces with them, and, together, they work to find a way to freedom—but their plan may be as flawed as the city they are trapped in.
This book was obtained freely from the publisher, BookLogix, in exchange for an honest review.
Nothing But Your Memories is a dystopian science fiction story wherein humanity has taken to a novel solution to overpopulation woes. It becomes clear that there are not enough resources for all the people on earth to continue existing all of the time, occupying space and resources for every year of their life span. So, it is decided that they’ll just have to take turns. The AG (Alternation of Generation) system was originally conceived to have each group live a year and then take a year off. However, by the time the whole population is indoctrinated into the program, each person is allowed one out of a decade. Of course, for this system to work, something has to be done about the frailty and weaknesses inherit to the human body. Living one year and aging nine would be acceptable to no one, and spending resources on keeping all those bodies alive wouldn’t help the problem. The solution to this is shells — engineered blank humanoid canvases onto which memories are imprinted via an identity chip. Each identity chip takes turns inhabiting these shells for a span of a year.
At the open of the novel, our protagonist Mira is awakening to her first cycle. The story that follows is an interesting one that brings up a lot of worthy, thoughtful questions. The issues of identity, the loss of self, the loss of family, the fairness of living one year out of ten (while the government officials, of course, get to have each one). The issue of forced compliance. The deeper questions over the impacts of loss of age, cultural and/or racial identity, reproduction. The insidious wonderings–what has happened to the problematic personalities, and the children? Is it worth the loss of so many of the things that make us human to lead a safe, comfortable life?
Hands down, my favorite part of the book is the world H. B. Clementine has built. I find it exceedingly inventive, and the concepts of identity chips, shells, and AG cities is enough for me to eagerly seek out the upcoming sequels. The groundwork Clementine lays toward the end of the work leaves plenty of room for several new branches of story, and I look forward to reading them. I also very much enjoyed how the last chapter of Nothing But Your Memories brought the narrative full circle.
There are some technical issues that I had with the book, things that drew me out of the world and kept me from being fully immersed. One of the issues was the quite young-sounding voice with which the story was narrated. I think narration in the present tense also pushed me back a bit. There were some passages that were exceedingly rambling and flip-floppy. Some of this is explained toward the end of the novel, but a lot of it seems only attributable to Mira not being able to make up her mind.
I find myself much more forgiving of these quibbles than usual due to the fact that this strange and inventive world was created by a young teenager–14 years old to be exact. In that respect, I am suitably impressed. Clementine’s achievements are laudable, and I certainly think she deserved to win the BookLogix Young Writers Contest. I am glad she got the chance to share this story with world. I look forward to reading more from her.
Overall, I would recommend the story to fans of dystopian science fiction, particularly those looking for something a little different than the standard teenagers competing against each other and the government fare. I’d particularly like to recommend it for younger readers–the content is appropriate and the reading level is accessible, while still thought-provoking. Young adult fans should find it enjoyable as well.