The Memory Thief
Author: Emily Colin
Publisher: A Ballantine Books Trade Paperback Original (a division of Random House Publishing Group)
Pages: 420 (including epilogue and acknowledgments)
Category/genre: Women's fiction/romance/paranormal
Source: A complimentary copy was provided by JKS Communications and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
"Before Madeleine Kimble's mountaineer husband, Aidan, climbs Mount McKinley's south face, he makes her a solemn vow: I will come back to you. But late one night, Maddie gets the devastating news that Aidan has died in an avalanche, leaving her to care fore their son -- a small boy with a very big secret. The call comes from J.C., Aidan's best friend and fellow climber, whose grief is seasoned with survivor's guilt ... and something more. J.C. has loved Maddie for years, but he never wanted his chance with her to come at so terrible a cost.
Across the country, Nicholas Sullivan wakes from a motorcycle crash with his memory wiped clean. yet his dreams are haunted by visions of a mysterious woman and a young boy, neither of whom he has ever met. Convinced that these strangers hold the answers he seeks, Nicholas leaves everything behind to find them. What he discovers will require a leap of faith that will change all of their lives forever."
As a good friend and I were discussing books, she asked what I was reading to which I responded "The Memory Thief" and I explained the plot. "That's not the kind of book you usually read," she said and she's right.
When I picked up Emily Colin's debut novel, I was expecting something like "Left Neglected" but this is totally different! The Memory Thief is a consuming story about a mother and son who lose a husband/father in a mountain climbing accident. Aidan had promised he'd return, trying to assuage Madeleine's fears that her unease about the trip meant pending disaster. One night, though, her fears come to fruition as she receives a phone call from J.C., her husband's best friend and one of his climbing companions.
The same day, Nicholas is in a motorcycle accident which puts him in the hospital in a coma and with partial amnesia. He cannot remember anything about his personal life and yet he dreams vividly of being on a mountain, seeing the snow give way as an avalanche swallows him whole. Progressively his thoughts and dreams are consumed by images and memories that are ...... Aidan's. (shocker!)
The Memory Thief is an unusual story, more twisted than I imagined and yet so compelling that it was difficult to put down. Emily Colin's characters live and breathe and love and lie and they draw you in to their lives. Vivid physical and personality descriptions carve out each main character as a sculptor would carve a medium, be it wood, stone or clay. They seem as real as you and I.
The plot twists and, though the reader has a sense of what is happening, it is not until the end that we fully understand the magnitude of it all. It isn't all tied up in a pretty bow, in the end, and yet, in a way it is complete. The Memory Thief is one of those stories that you will remember because it is different and the characters are so vivid that they leave an impression upon you after you read the last sentence, closing the book upon the story but not the feeling it leaves you with.
There are a lot of sexual situations in this novel, not gratuitous, but they don't leave much to the imagination. They are in context with the story line but not what I'd consider necessary to the plot. It is, however, what the reading audience seems to be enjoying right now if the success of Fifty Shades of ... (you know) is any indication. The Memory Thief is also riddled with profanity, which too seems to be in context. I just don't enjoy reading it, though.
I would rate this a 4/5 were it not for the explicit sex scenes and language, which makes it, for me, a 3/5. Though a good story line, this one has not earned a place on my bookshelf.