Author(s): Glenn Haybittle
Published by Cheyne Walk on 3/30/2017
Genres: Science Fiction
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2084: In a post-apocalyptic world controlled by UniCorp, where the memory of the “genetically inferior” has been chemically tampered with, Alowa escapes her captivity as a dispenser. She is sheltered in the reservation where dangers abound and her fears grow that she might be an “immigrant” – a bioengineered facsimile of a human being. She is told a boy called Solstice has her memories and she will have to enter History to find him.
1943: Max’s family have been deported from England to Italy when Mussolini declares war on Great Britain. Max has Italian lessons with a Jewish woman and falls in love with her daughter. Then the Nazis arrive in the sleepy fishing village.
1890: Weayaya, living on the Standing Rock reservation, dances the ghost dance. Then Sitting Bull is killed and she and her young son are among the Lakota fleeing towards Wounded Knee.
The Memory Tree: four interlocking narratives which forge a thrilling path through time and heritage.
I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
This was an interesting book that I’m having trouble gauging how I actually feel about it. The setting and world building, in the parts of the book set in the future, are interesting. The characters are, for the most part, well done. The story overall is intricate and precisely meticulously plotted. Yet, there are things I found challenging about reading it.
The main idea of the book, about memories and how they work, and interconnecting the storylines is interesting. The stories flowed together well enough and made the overarching plot of the book interesting and fun to read. Sadly, the book did not stop with just that.
There are just too many twists and turns. Each timeline has different characters with different motivations. The book doesn’t just break from the traditional structure of a novel but destroys it. Halfway through the book, it became a slog as I had to stop and think ‘wait, which guy was this again.’ It can be daring to break the rules, but if you’re going to do it, you have to do it very well, or it falls flat. The Memory Tree came close but didn’t quite get there, leaving the story muddled and, while not difficult to follow, somewhat exhausting.
I also had some issues with the setup of the dystopian future. The book had too much to accomplish with its various story lines to really do justice in explaining the world. This made the explanation for why and more importantly how the mega-corporations ran everything unsatisfying. One of the key things to do in a dystopian story is to ensure the setup for that world makes sense internally, and this one just didn’t do that.
I didn’t hate this book. It wasn’t bad, and I could see how some people would enjoy it. I just didn’t find it overly enjoyable to read either. The think I was left with after finishing it was mostly a feeling of frustration.
Which isn’t really a good way to end a book.