When 15-year-old Kira's friends hypnotize her, she remembers a "Mama" who is not the woman she knows as her mother speaking a language that's not English. Her mother, Sophia, won't answer her questions, and shortly afterward, a stranger calling herself Aunt Memory appears, telling Kira that Sophia has been kidnapped and that Kira must go to Crythe, her true homeland, to save her. This is the promising start to Haddix's (Turnabout) science fiction novel; unfortunately, her premise gets muddled amid confusing details. Once in Crythe, the alleged Aunt Memory tells Kira about native culture and history; after the Chernobyl meltdown, she says, the village was relocated to California (Kira, raised in Ohio, had believed she was born in California). War broke out, and Kira's birth parents were executed. Haddix steadily infuses creative ideas: Crythe is a memory-obsessed culture where children learn from an honorary "Aunt Memory" to record every detail. Kira's birth parents, both geniuses, had built "a system to replicate memory on a computer. But it was human memory they could copy, not digital." Kira, apparently, has her parents' memories embedded within her, and these now put her in danger. Fans of the author's Shadow Children series can count on an abundance of twists and cliffhangers, but ultimately readers may be frustrated by the plot's vagueness, especially around the state of current Crythe. Additionally, the book's villain is too much of a caricature to be truly scary. Ages 12-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Haddix has another surefire hit in this riveting, philosophically provoking tale of an ordinary small-town American girl who lets her best friend hypnotize her, as a joke, at one of their weekly sleepovers: under hypnosis, Kira reveals fragments of memory that lead her to the inescapable conclusion that she and the woman she has always thought was her mother have escaped from a bizarre past, as refugees from a lost country whose inhabitants are trained from birth to forget nothing, nothing at all. Short, suspenseful chapters show Kira and Lynne beginning to unravel the secrets of Kira's distant, silent mom, until the girls are kidnapped by Kira's menacing "Aunt Memory" and taken to Kira's quasi-medieval native country of Crithe (transplanted, after Chernobyl, to isolated mountains of California), where both girls are threatened with death if Kira cannot produce secrets she doesn't even realize she has the means of knowing. Haddix once again takes readers on a wild ride replete with cliff-hanging climaxes and courageous choices on the part of her heroine, along the way raising deep and fascinating questions about the nature of memory: what is worth remembering, and what is worth forgetting? How much of our identity is constituted by what we remember, and how much by what we allow ourselves to forget? 2003, Simon & Schuster, Ages 12 up.
When people call a book "tight," this novel is what they're talking about. It has it all: suspense, laughter, tears, twists, action, and thrills. I can only read certain kinds of books because I am very picky, and this book was one of the best I've ever read. It was a blast. I would recommend it to anyone who has ever dreamed of the unbelievable happening. I give it a 4Q/5P. VOYA Codes: 3Q 4P M J S (Readable without serious defects; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2003, Simon & Schuster, 224p,
Lindsay Lutes, Teen Reviewer
Haddix (author of Turnabout, Just Ella, and Takeoffs and Landings) writes a thriller about a teenager living in a small town in the Midwest who is hypnotized by her friends as a party entertainment only to uncover odd facts about her past buried in her memory. For starters, in her hypnotic trance, Kira speaks a foreign language. She decides to pursue these clues to find out more about where she came from; her birth certificate, photos, parents' identity papers, anything. Kira lives alone with a woman she knows as her mother, a woman who cares for Kira. She supports them by working in the public library, but she has never revealed details of their family or their past to Kira. Their quiet existence is shattered when a woman calling herself Aunt Memory shows up and kidnaps Kira, flying her across the country to a place settled by their countrymen, a place called Crythe. Fortunately for Kira, her best friend Lynne is a stowaway on the plane and is there to help Kira understand what has happened. Also, the woman who Kira knows as her mom is there. Kira is a special person, the daughter of two brilliant Crythians, who, knowing they would die, stored important data in Kira's memory, which could only be recovered through hypnosis. The plot gets wilder and wilder, and cannot be summarized easily, but as you can imagine, there is a happy ending. Haddix writes well and YAs who like suspenseful stories that are akin to science fiction will enjoy this Escape. KLIATT Codes: JS; Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2003, Simon & Schuster, 218p.,
Gr 6-8-At a sleepover, Kira, 15, agrees to let her friends hypnotize her for the fun of it. Instead of the expected revelation of a secret crush, her friends hear a child's buried memory of fleeing from danger with her mother and speaking in a language none of them understands. Kira's assumptions about her life in their small Ohio town are challenged, and her reticent, eccentric mother is frightened rather than reassuring when confronted with her daughter's questions. Then she disappears, and a woman shows up claiming to be Kira's benevolent Aunt Memory from a community called Crythe, where memories are valued above all else. Aunt Memory claims that the woman Kira thinks of as her mother is being held hostage and that only Kira can save her. Thus ensues a race across the continent involving Crythian political intrigue, deception, kidnapping, and blackmail. Of course, nothing is as it seems, and there are enough plot twists to satisfy Haddix's loyal readers. The plot-driven narrative moves at such a brisk pace that only by the end of the story do readers have time to ponder the unresolved questions concerning the power and role of memory in our lives.-Farida S. Dowler, formerly at Bellevue Regional Library, WA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
A thrill ride ensues when an all-American teen discovers her mysterious origins. Goofing around with hypnosis at a slumber party, Kira unearths buried memories of violent escape that don't fit in her Ohio childhood. For reassurance, she turns to her mother-who, now that she thinks of it, seems oddly foreign-and is brusquely rebuffed. Further investigations are interrupted when Kira's mother vanishes, and Kira is carried off by a mysterious stranger who claims to be rescuing Kira's kidnapped mom. Somehow, the answer to Kira's buried memories lies with this stranger and a mysterious land called Crythe, where memory is more important than happiness. The true identities of both Kira and her mother are concealed by layers of lost memory that hide secrets for which many have died. Greed, family love, and remnants of Cold War politics combine into a startling and intricate thriller. Some odd plot inconsistencies, but an exciting adventure, climaxing in a tense armed standoff. Well worth it. (Science fiction. 12-16)