on January 12th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Amazon | Book Depository | Publisher | Angus & Robertson | Booktopia | Barnes & Noble
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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.
The One Memory of Flora Banks was a book that I was extremely excited to pick up because of its intriguing synopsis and the amnesia aspect of the book. However, it fell way short of my expectations and I didn’t enjoy the reading experience at all.
Flora has anterograde amnesia and cannot create new memories. Her last memories were from when she was 10 and ever since then, she’s been unable to hold on to memories for longer than about an hour. But after kissing Drake, her best friend, Paige’s, boyfriend after his farewell party one night she finds that she’s suddenly able to remember that kiss. With Paige mad at her and out of the picture, and her parents travelling to Paris to be with her sick older brother, Flora finds herself left to her own devices. She begins emailing back and forth with Drake and would do anything to be with him, even travelling to Svalbard in Norway…
My main gripe with this novel was the writing, as well as some plot issues. Flora is an incredibly unreliable narrator and it was confusing to read from her perspective. I found the whole book to be extremely repetitive and Flora seemed to be incapable of thinking of anything other than the fact that she kissed Drake on the beach and that she loves Drake. I honestly lost track of how many times she said that by around page 50 of 300. To be fair, that’s probably understandable considering that’s really her only memory, but it was still frustrating to read about. Another thing that I found frustrating about the writing was that things kept going around in circles and the logic of it all was just too difficult to understand. While that’s probably the point of the book, it just made for a really unenjoyable reading experience. The writing style was also not really for me. Flora’s last memories were from when she was 10 and she also speaks as if she’s 10 instead of 17. Her voice was very childlike and it was really hard to get into at the beginning of the novel because all of her thoughts were just hitting me in the face. I did get more used to it as the novel progressed but I still wasn’t a fan of the writing style at all.
I did like the portrayal of amnesia in this book but I wasn’t really that enamoured by the idea that her only memory was of a boy. She spends so much of the book obsessing about him and I just wanted a little more of just Flora herself. There were some small moments of family elements and I just wish they had been explored a bit more in this book rather than a potential romance that was honestly the most annoying that I’ve read about in a while. I did really appreciate seeing Flora’s growth and independence towards the end of the book and how she showed that she was capable of taking care of herself and doing things without being supervised all the time, and that was probably my favourite thing about the novel. I’m not sure how I feel about the ending of the book because it seemed very unresolved but I did like a lot of the plot twists at the end, though I do have to say that they were kind of predictable.
In terms of the characters, I wasn’t really a big fan of any of them. My favourite character was probably Flora when she wasn’t being annoying about kissing Drake and how much she loves him and he loves her. I found her drive and motivation to be inspiring and I enjoyed going on her journey with her. I also loved her brother, Jacob, who wasn’t really present in the story. I wish we’d gotten to see more of him and I would’ve loved more interactions between him and Flora. Besides those two characters, I didn’t enjoy reading about any of the others. Drake gave me creepy vibes from the very start and I wasn’t on board with the romance at all. I also didn’t have a good impression of Paige, who abandoned Flora when she really needed her.
Overall, I found The One Memory of Flora Banks to be quite lacklustre. It was confusing and repetitive and I couldn’t latch on to the writing or the plot. There were a few good elements that kept me reading but I honestly wouldn’t mind if I had no memory of this book tomorrow.
Rating: 3 out of 5
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[…] The One Memory of Flora Banks – Emily Barr […]
I find this Memento concept very intriguing, it’s disappointing the author failed to bring it to life. I’m not a fan of repetitive narration, and I don’t like that the book focuses mostly on the single kiss. I love family representation. Great review, Jenna! Thanks for pointing positive and negative aspects of this book, it was helpful.
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Thanks for the comment, Ksenia! I wish I could've enjoyed the book a little bit more but there were just far too many things that frustrated me.
Oh my, I was looking forward to this one too Jenna. The style of writing sounds incredibly panicked actually, which usually doesn’t sit all that well with me. I do enjoy books about memory loss as thrillers and mystery novels but when her only memory is her love interest and how much she loves him, it’s a little too repetitive for me too. Sorry you couldn’t have enjoyed this more Jenna but wonderful review! <3
Thanks Kelly! I have actually just completely erased the book from my mind (and totally forgot to reply to all the comments too). Hopefully someone will come out with a fantastic book about amnesia because it's such an interesting concept!
Sorry to hear that this one didn’t live up to your expectations! I hadn’t heard about this book before now, but I have to admit that it does have a really intriguing premise and it sounds like something that would really draw you in, especially with how original it is. But I can see your points to not enjoying it – when a narrator doesn’t do a good job of actually narrating a book that well, it can make it a lot less enjoyable. Great review!
Kelly @ Here’s to Happy Endings recently posted…Review: Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson – Blog Tour and Giveaway!
I completely agree! The narration was just really frustrating and the main character came off as way too immature for me to stick with her for an entire book. It was a shame because the premise had so much potential!
Aww that’s definitely too bad because it sounded like it had a lot of potential! Hopefully the next good book will erase the bad memories of this one! (But I do hope there’s more book about amnesia, it’s so interesting!) Great review, Jenna!
Cyn @ Bookmunchies recently posted…RRSReview: Marrying Winterborne by Lisa Kleypas
I totally agree, Cyn! I love reading about amnesia (even the cheesy amnesia tropes in asian dramas and manga) but I'm still waiting for someone to hit it out of the park!
Gah I’m avoiding this one. Not quite a fan of the romance cures mental illness vibes, and like you pointed out, her only memory being of a boy!
Yeah that was extremely frustrating! If I could only remember one thing, I'd hope that it wasn't just one kiss with a boy who's never really even spoken to me before.
Huh. So does she emotionally and mentally mature past the age of 10? Weird. At the same time, I’m kind of curious.
Don't be curious. Just stay away! HAHA. No but really.
Oh I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy it. It usually frustrated me too when the characters never grow throughout the story. Great review. 🙂
Thank you! Character development is one of the key things I look for in novels so it was disappointing that this one didn't really have any…
Great review, Jenna! My thoughts on this book actually align with yours – the narrative was super repetitive and got a bit boring, and the writing itself was too simple and shallow. I appreciate the premise, just not so much the execution. It’s really unfortunate. :/
Ahhh I'm so glad that you agree, Reg! (Sorry about the late reply to your comment! I've been so slumpy lately). I was so excited for this book because the premise sounded really interesting but sadly, it never reached its potential.
Yeees, that's exactly how I feel about it. (Also look at my late reply to your also late reply! I'm also feeling slumpy so I totally get it. HERE'S TO US ONE DAY OVERCOMING THIS SLUMP.)
I think I will be annoyed with the repetitive reminders of how much she loved Drake. For a moment there, I thought it would be like that movie, 50 First Dates but it’s nowhere near that. Bummer.
Ahhh that's a great comparison but I actually really loved 50 First Dates and this was nowhere near the same level, sadly. I'm just going to erase this entire book from my mind! (I totally did because I never ended up replying to any of the comments on this post).
Oh no, I’m sorry this one dissapoints you! I think the synopsis is interesting, but I admit it sounds very boy-centric… And I think the whole going around and immature thing is because Flora can’t remember anything after she was 10, so it’s like she never grow up and never matured past her 10 years old self? I hope your next read will be better!
Ahh I'm so sorry about the late reply!!! I was sooo disappointed with this book that I completely erased it from my mind. I agree that maybe some of the motivation for the immaturity was because she doesn't have memories beyond age 10… but it was just really frustrating to read about! I had such high hopes for this novel and concept but ultimately, I was just really let down by it 🙁