Memoria by Alex Bobl

Memoria by Alex BoblAlthough this book is primarily a futuristic thriller set in a world where the perpetrator might not remember their actions, it also raises questions the question whether, if we are the product of our experiences, we remain us if we lose the bad memories.

Following a civil war the United States of America is divided into three classes: migrants, a necessary underclass formed of the losers and their families, veterans, respected but expected to retain their memories of war, and citizens, required by law to have their memories edited regularly to remove the psychological causes of crime. Frank Shelby, a lawyer working on negotiations with the migrant enclaves, returns home to find himself a murder suspect. With the Memoria Corporation scaling up to announce a new government supported program, he must avoid not only the police but those who would use him as a pawn in their attempts to advance or stop the initiative.

This novel owes much to noir fiction, both in style and plot arc. Depending on your opinion of the tropes of the genre you will either enjoy this as a vehicle for a good idea, or find it lacking in nuance and finesse. While Bobl might not be as insightful as Philip K Dick, his dystopia is solidly written and paced.

As befits a noir thriller, much of the characterisation is done using action rather than introspection, which does occasionally lead to Shelby acting before his motivation is made clear to the reader. However, the lack of long conversations works well against a backdrop of a broken and dangerous society.

Both the history of the world and the technology are also introduced in action. Although there are some speculations about what Memoria might be doing, characters talk and act as if the class structure and memory-removal are both just another part of life. This absence of facts does require the reader to piece some things together in the first few chapters, but also adds to the realism of the world and will protect the narrative from being overtaken by real world events.

Overall I enjoyed this book. I would recommend it to readers looking for an enjoyable science-fiction thriller.

I received a free copy of this book.

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