The Memory Chamber by Holly Cave
Publishing Date: 22nd February 2018
Source: Received from publisher in return for an honest review, thank you!
Number of pages: 400
Genre: Thriller, Fantasy
YOU ARE GOING TO DIE.
YOU CAN PRESERVE A HANDFUL OF SPECIAL MEMORIES FOREVER.
WHICH ONES WOULD YOU CHOOSE?
True death is a thing of the past. Now you can spend the rest of eternity reliving your happiest memories: that first kiss, falling in love, the birth of your children, enjoyed on loop for ever and ever.
Isobel is a Heaven Architect, and she helps dying people create afterlives from these memories. So when she falls for Jarek, one of her terminal – and married – clients, she knows that while she cannot save him, she can create the most beautiful of heavens, just for him.
But when Jarek’s wife is found dead, Isobel uncovers a darker side of the world she works within, and she can trust no one with what she finds…
The Memory Chamber is a thrilling and original story which vaults the reader into a world that is terrifyingly close to our own, where we can avoid everything we fear – even death itself. But can we ever escape the truth?
When I’ve read the synopsis to “The Memory Chamber” I was truly intrigued – just imagine, you can create your own custom – made heaven for when you died, made only of memories that are dear to you – absolutely intriguing and unique idea! If you have enough money and you’re not a criminal, you can have your private heaven created – it’s absolutely new and refreshing.
Isobel is a Heaven Architect and she loves her job. She’s the best at her job. She creates those custom – made heavens for her customers. Isobel spends a lot of time with her dying clients, chasing their memories, creating new ones, only to make sure they have a perfect time after their deaths. And she’s really good at this. But one day she fells in love with one of her customers – Jarek, married- mutually. It’s going to cause problems, but also there are some changes on the horizon and Isobel starts to doubt in her chosen career, asking herself it’s moral or not anymore.
It turned out that “The Memory Chamber” is not my typical kind of read, that there is an element of almost sci – fi to it, but it was too late, I was already deep into the story, and so I kept reading. It was also one of my problems with this book because it felt as if the story takes place in a very computerised future, but I didn’t have any idea when it is and what has actually happened with the world that the people are being chipped, that they only need to press at their ear to answer a phone call and I was honestly expecting the people to wear clothes made of silver foil and reproduce by touching fingers. I wanted to know what has happened that caused all those changes.
It didn’t work for me on all levels as much as I thought it’s going to. The idea is brilliant, we’ve agreed on this already, but there are too many holes in the plot and it felt too wafer thin, too superficial. There were twists and turns but I had a feeling they were opened with a kick but their development and delivery felt too flat, as if the idea was missing. There is no build up to the great feelings Isobel has to Jarek and vice versa and it made me feel a little confused. Isobel also changes her mind so very suddenly, without a word of explanation. The characters didn’t leave any impression on me. I couldn’t connect with them, I didn’t know their backgrounds and histories, they felt artificial and like some kinds of robots. Then we have the subplot of the murder. While the author has tried to mess a little with us and do our heads in, the limited number of characters didn’t make it difficult to guess who was really the assassin. This thread, actually really important for this story, neither impressed nor impacted me.
On the other hand, I liked how controversial and difficult topic the author decided upon. She isn’t afraid to deal with the ethical questions, who should be allowed to have such heaven after their death, who has a right to own an artificial heaven at all, who should be allowed in their memories for ever and if they should give the go ahead for being there… It’s really all a bit sci – fi and complicated but after reading the story you’re completely going to see what the whole heaven – idea is about. All the aspects, ethical, moral, religious are explored from every possible angle and there is really not much place for imagination.
Together with my review copy I’ve received a note with some intriguing questions, and one of them was if, after reading the book, I’d change my memories for my own heaven. No, I wouldn’t! I’m happy to have some brilliant, warm and uplifting memories and I’d love to have them in my heaven.
The story truly picked up in the last part, maybe the last 100 pages or so but it felt like reading a different novel then. Before it was slow and about artificial heavens, then it was quick, sometimes too quick, about solving a murder. It was, however, too late for me to change my mind about this story – I wanted to be drawn from the very beginning and it didn’t happen.
It’s hard to tell what this book was really about – it was neither about friendship, nor love, nor family… However, it was a tale that provides tons of things to reflect on, to mull over, making you think and ask questions about what’s important to you. In fact I really am not sure what to think about it. The science aspect of the story was too much for me and the talk about neurons and other things meant nothing for me. There was so much potential to “The Memory Chamber” but for me it didn’t deliver. It was an interesting, different read, that’s for sure and it’s certainly one of the reasons you should read it for yourself – because maybe it’s the case of it’s not you, book, it’s me.
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