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REVIEW:  Mnevermind 2: Forget Me Not by Jordan Castillo Price

REVIEW: Mnevermind 2: Forget Me Not by Jordan Castillo Price

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No two people are exactly alike, but Elijah Crowe is very, very different.

Elijah is on the autism spectrum, so the tasks of day-to-day life most people breeze through are a challenge for him. His career suffered because he never got the hang of schmoozing, and now he wastes his talents teaching classes at the mall. His social circle is limited to his ex, his therapist, and a structured inclusion group at the Rec Center. The one bright spot in his life is the memory science of Mnemography.

Although he loves nothing better than devouring the latest research and tinkering with all the specialized equipment, he never clicked with any other experts in the field until he met Daniel Schroeder. Daniel runs a memory palace—he even writes his own mnems—and that shared interest alone would make him fascinating. But Daniel and Elijah met under unusual circumstances, where the statement, “I like you, and I think you like me,” held some surprising nuances.

Now Elijah suspects he’s gay, but the few prominent people in his life are less than supportive. Some are downright hostile. Elijah might not be neurotypical, but he’s plenty smart. Surely there’s some way to get people to accept him for who he is. If only he could figure out how.

Dear Jordan Castillo Price,

In the second part of your trilogy you took this story where I did not expect it to go, but that is a good thing. Elijah and Daniel have a chance to get more closely acquainted with each other and the situation with Daniel’s father may change very significantly in the last book of the trilogy. I guess considering Elijah’s appearance in the first book, I expected him to be somebody magical? He turns out to be very ordinary, but also very real and interesting character. I think that cliché “the character jumps from the page” is a very appropriate one here. Elijah is a narrator in this part of the story. Since blurb has this information, I do not think it is a spoiler that he is on the autism spectrum (he has Asperger’s).

I thought the author managed to portray a real person, somebody who came alive on pages of the book to me, of course Asperger is a part of who he is, but I thought that Elijah had a personality and was not just a walking embodiment of somebody with Asperger. I do however always worry in such situations when I am not talking from personal experience – the portrayal seemed very sensitively done to me, but I am only evaluating it based on what I read and based on the stories from couple of Internet friends who have kids with Asperger’s -which is obviously a brief, superficial and indirect knowledge. If you are more intimately familiar with autism, you are obviously in better position than me to judge how well Elijah was drawn.

His worries, his insecurities, his communication issues – it all made sense to me. I loved how intelligent he was, how vulnerable in several ways and how much he was willing to work for certain things he really wanted from life and from potential relationship with Daniel.

“When I realize someone is being dishonest, it seems that I react much more strongly than the average person. I’m not sure if that has to do with my spectrum disorder specifically, or if it’s just the way I am. Given how upset I suddenly found myself in mnen – angry and disappointed and devastatingly cheated- I’d guess it was a deep-seated aspect of my personality that didn’t have a lot to do with the Aspergian quirks of my brain. I turned to Daniel, only to find he’d gone off to the side, apart from the rest of the sherpas, and was now deep in conversation with Big Dan.

Already trying to work out how they could use this new technology to their advantage. A technology that was really a scam.
Tell him. Now.”

I loved that the story did not portray Elijah as somebody perfect but gave him a personality, one which is even a little abrasive I guess? It is funny because in the author’s note at the end of this story there are some comments which for my taste go a little too much towards author’s explaining the story and character and there is a comment that she wanted to give Elijah a personality with a touch of abrasiveness. I guess I was kind of two minds when I was reading it – I was amused that I interpreted it the same way, but also preferred not to read the explanation.

Elijah and Daniel’s relationship also moved forward a bit, even if it made some steps back. I liked seeing how while Elijah and Daniel were different in some ways, they were also similar in others. Both tried to research things they were unsure of about whom other person was. It was both funny and touching for me to read.

I also liked that Elijah’s view really helped to learn about Daniel’s personality. While I have absolutely nothing against a well written story with multiple POVs, way too often I feel that it is unnecessary to constantly switch POVs and wish that author was able to show me the second character’s depth through the other guy’s eyes. I think the author did this admirably well in this book.

I always liked secondary characters in her books – male and female – and this story is no exception. Elijah’s female therapist, his former wife, and Daniel’s employee Carlotta all feel like human beings in their own right and none of them felt perfect to me or caricatured. And the interesting part is that one female character in this book does feel like a bully to me (Daniel’s mother) – she is not a caricature either. However, barring some dramatic reversal in the third book, I seriously doubt that I will like her. And I am perfectly okay with her – I do not feel the need to grind my teeth and wish she would go far away from the story, because she feels like a person. People like her exist, even if I cannot stand them.

Again, I liked where this part of the story ended, but you definitely cannot read it as a stand-alone, and it does not provide any real closure to the main ongoing storyline.

Grade: B+.

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REVIEW:  Mnevermind 1: The Persistence of Memory by Jordan Castillo Price

REVIEW: Mnevermind 1: The Persistence of Memory by Jordan Castillo...

mnevermind-200Every day, Daniel Schroeder breaks his father’s heart.

While forgetting your problems won’t solve them, it does seem like it would make life a heck of a lot easier. Daniel thought so once. Now he knows better. He and Big Dan have always been close, which makes it all the more difficult to break the daily news: the last five years were nothing like his father remembers.

They’re both professionals in the memory field—they even run their own memory palace. So shouldn’t they be able to figure out a way to overwrite the persistent false memory that’s wreaking havoc on both of their lives? Daniel thought he was holding it together, but the situation seems to be sliding out of control. Now even his own equipment has turned against him, reminding him he hasn’t had a date in ages by taunting him with flashes of an elusive man in black that only he can see.

Is it some quirk of the circuitry, or is Daniel headed down the same path to fantasy-land as his old man?

Dear Jordan Castillo Price,

The sequel to this book was just released, but because I have not reviewed the first book I decided to reread it and start writing my reviews in the proper order.

I think one of the many reasons I enjoy your books is because they are so unpredictable. I never know what to expect when I start a new story. As the blurb states, this book is at least partially about memories or more specifically about mnems.

“Mnems [neem] Noun, plural mnems.
1.A temporary, artificially induced memory
2.The subjective internal experience in which a mnem is implanted
(see mnem machine, mnem packet, mnemographer, mnemography)”

Apparently, in this world anybody can pay for the service of experiencing certain mnems for a few hours, and while the specific experience of being in the mnem will fade in a day or two (because so many problems would arise if they won’t), the client will remember the feeling of being happy. Daniel is a mnemographer, he is making sure his clients (in a memory palace that he runs with his father) will be safe when they enter and exit a mnem. Usually it is safe, but something went wrong when they were experimenting and creating a new mnem package in the store, and when Daniel’s dad tested it, he ended up with a permanent false memory in which his wife (Daniel’s mother) never leaves him. That incident happened a year before story starts and she left five years earlier than that. So now Daniel has to have a conversation with his father every day to tell him that mom is not on vacation but has left them. As you can guess, this is not a conversation Daniel likes to have with his Dad, because he does not like breaking his father’s heart on a regular basis.

I really liked Daniel. I liked that he is 45 years old when the story starts – I still feel that vast majority of the guys which live in m/m romances are in their mid-twenties (there is some improvement but in my opinion not nearly enough) and I am always happy when the hero is older than that age. I was very touched by his relationship with his father, I saw how much he loved Big Dan and while I did not see him spending pages wallowing in angst about being responsible for his father’s predicament (he was trying to design /improve new mnem package which went wrong in only one test – when his dad did it), I had no doubts about just how responsible he felt.

I was even more interested in Daniel when his (I hope) love interest appeared and he had to figure out whether the guy was real or a product of his brain while being in the mnem. I thought that the second man was presented to me very effectively, because as a reader I was also racking my brain with Daniel and hoping for this mystery man to be real and already was annoyed that he may not be.

“Or I meant to, anyway. A flap of wings and a loud caw startled me so badly that I dropped it. It disappeared before it hit the remembered linoleum.
I found a crow perched on the shelf beside me, where it had pecked open a box of animal crackers. It stood over the box, hovering possessively, and cocked its head. Its black feathers had an iridescent sheen, and its black talons were sharp enough to do some serious damage.

*****
So what was up with a crow?”

It gave an agitated flap of its wings, and a feather drifted down toward the spot where I’d meant to drive the exit peg. The blue-black feather swayed on the air, shimmered and disappeared”

I thought the book set up the beginning of the romance wonderfully, but this story was mostly about Daniel, about his relationship with his father and about his everyday work with giving people happy memories (no matter how short the sequences are, the feelings last for quite a while). This is not the first story that I read which plays with the theme of false memories in one way or another, but I definitely thought that it brought its own twist to it. I liked it and I cannot wait to start the second part of this trilogy.

This story’s length is 50250 words, so it is a short novel or a long novella, I guess. It is supposed to be the first part of a trilogy (according to JCP at least) and while it does not end with a cliffhanger, it does not provide any closure on the romance or on Daniel’s dad storyline. It completely made sense to me, but some readers might want to wait and read it when the trilogy is complete.

Grade B+

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