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Reviews

…the themes of inquiry and fighting back will resonate with young and old.

-School Library Journal, April, 2011


… fuses the politically charged projections of Anderson’s Feed and Doctorow’s Little Brother with the breathtakingly personal implications of selective amnesia, resulting in a multi-threaded plot that manages to be both complex and comfortably easy to follow (in other words, enjoyable for sci-fi fans and newbies alike). The fast pace encourages readers to fall headfirst into a gripping suspense-adventure ride, letting the thematic issues simmer beneath the surface while they are carried away on the surprise twists, memorable supporting characters, and interpersonal dynamics (including a romance) that are absorbing but never melodramatic.

— The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, April 2011

Like Paolo Bacigalupi’s science and world in Ship Breaker, Smibert’s science fiction draws on real science and real events as inspiration, which can lead to some interesting discussions about just how close we are to Nora’s world, both the world of TFC, the world of corporate control and consumer spending, the world of haves and have nots living two separate existences. Finally, Memento Nora is short, the way most young adult novels used to be. It’s 184 pages, with short chapters, a small trim size, and nice font. Those of you who have read one too many paranormals of a bazillion pages know what I mean about just how exciting it is to have a book of this length. The plotting, fast pace, and size, make it a terrific read for reluctant readers.

A Chair, a Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy (SLJ blog), May 2011

The futuristic society in this novel appears perfect, but as the characters scratch the surface, it becomes apparent that they are living in a truly chilling dystopian world. The rebellion of Nora, Micah, and Winter may seem small, but their actions have tremendous results. There is a good mix of romance, intrigue, and a chillingly powerful antagonist, making this novel a fairly standard addition to the science fiction genre. Unlike some science fiction, however, this a quick read and is sure to attract readers from all genres.  4Q 4P J S

–VOYA, June 2011

Fifteen-year-olds Nora and Jonah live in the futuristic New York town of Hamilton, where people visit Homeland Inc.–sponsored TFCs (Therapeutic Forgetting Clinics) to erase unpleasant memories of terrorist attacks. The teens opt out of forgetting and instead start anonymously telling their stories in an underground comic book called Memento. They also start putting together seemingly random city bombings with the appearance of mysterious black vans that are connected to Homeland Inc. What if they get too close to the truth? Smooth, economical writing characterizes this quick tale of youth rebellion, cover-ups, and an out-of-control security force. The narrative bounces seamlessly between Nora, Jonah, and 14-year-old artist Winter, all of whom, according to chapter headers, are making “therapeutic statements” from the Hamilton Detention Center. These statements are part of the TFC treatment, and the headers’ significance becomes clearer as readers progress through the story. Smibert’s dystopian first novel is a gift for both reluctant and regular readers.— Cindy Welch

— Booklist, June 1, 2011


High School—In this dystopic futuristic novel set in a American city, surveillance is pervasive, random terrorist bombings are commonplace, and TFCs—Therapeutic Forgetting Clinics—are the opiate of the people. On her first visit to a TFC, fifteen-year-old Nora shares a traumatic memory with the “doctor,” then secretly spits out the forgetting pill, Ameliorol, and chooses to remember. Thus she begins a double life: at home, pretending she’s forgotten, she acts “Daddy’s little princess” to her authoritarian, abusive father; at school, she and newfound friends Micah and Winter create and distribute an underground comic in order to preserve their stories. They know they’ll be found out eventually—but have no idea they’ll discover that the “terrorist” bombings are a corporate plot. As a surveillance mystery, this has some vagueness in its logic, but its subtle commentary on art, memory, and historical evidence more than compensates. The novel is taut and lean; Smibert’s prose is quick and fluid; and her three artist teens—Nora the writer, Micah the graphic artist, and Winter the creator of kinetic sculpture—have appeal.

–Horn Book Magazine, July – August Issue

Grades 5-8—Nora witnesses a man thrown to his death and is then taken to the local clinic where she is given a pill to make her forget what she saw. Nora could have lived her life only remembering the good moments, if she had obeyed and taken the pill. Micah, a classmate, ruined that chance when he walked out of the clinic and in one silent gesture shows Nora he did not take the pill. Nora and Micah then work together to find out the truth everyone wants to forget. The more they learn, the more dangerous life becomes. In order to preserve their stories, they create a comic and release a few issues before everything they were once familiar with changes. Throughout the novel Nora struggles with how shallow her mother’s life is and decides that is not the life she wants. The supporting characters add depth to the story and move the plot along. For the reader who enjoys alternative reality in which our society takes a big brother approach, this book is a good recommendation. Recommended.

— Library Media Connection, August/September Issue

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"...a gift for both reluctant and regular readers.”

- Booklist

“…the themes of inquiry and fighting back will resonate
with young and old.”

-School Library Journal

“The novel is taut and lean; Smibert’s prose is quick and fluid…”
–Horn Book Magazine

“Engaging, spirited characters and a plot that can stand on its own…This story could provide great fodder for discussions about the relative roles of government, business and the individual in a world of increasing consolidation and conformity.”

—Children’s Literature