10/10/2014

Review: Don't You Forget About Me {Kate Karyus Quinn}




Written by Kate Karyus Quinn

Welcome to Gardnerville. A place where no one gets sick, and no one ever dies. Except there's a price to pay for paradise. Every fourth year, the strange power that fuels the town infects residents with deadly urges. In a normal year, a teenager might stop talking to their friends. In a fourth year, they'd kill them. Four years ago, Skylar's sister was locked away after leading sixteen of her classmates to a watery grave. Ever since, Skylar has lived in a numb haze, downing forget-me-nots to erase her past. But the secrets and memories that her sister left behind are taunting her, whispering that the only way to get Piper back is to stop Gardnerville's murderous cycle once and for all. 
This is the most wonderfully bizarre book I've read in a while.

The key thing you need to understand when going in to this, is that you can't trust anything anyone says. Everyone talks in tongues and secrets, words coated with something other than what they're saying. Even Skylar, our narrator, can't be relied on, because she swallows so many memory-fogging forget-me-nots, that her past and present all blur away in smoke.

Gardnerville is a town that sickness and death have abandoned. For over a hundred years the residents can live perfectly healthy lives, their age rarely showing and their stamina rarely slowing. When the sick come to Gardnerville, they find reprieve from their fatal illnesses. They are immune to death and, in some ways, life. But this comes with a price too deadly for words.

Quinn does a sensational job of keeping up suspense. With so much going on, and Skylar's patchy memory making reveals tantalisingly slow, it's hard not to get anxious with every page. Once one mystery is revealed, another takes its place, and so begins the looping train that is the endless enigma of the town and its residents.

This is disturbing, there's no doubt. There's the threat of bloody murder every four years, and the horrifying ways these are carried out, which are sensationally sinister. And often supernatural in some form; because Gardnerville isn't just a place where you can escape death, it's one where you can escape logic. Where powers and abilities float through the air like dandelion clocks.
 
 And then there's the notorious asylum that looms on the hills, housing the culprits only to suddenly release them back into the town as shells of themselves. Nobody knows what causes this. And nobody knows what happens in the asylum to erase everything those people once were. It's gripping, surreal, and all so cloaked in secrecy and intrigue.

As Skylar slowly starts to fight against her forget-me-not induced haze, and resigns to find her sister, Piper, and end Gardnerville's murderous cycle, the book really starts to take root. We discover things at the same time Skylar does, even things that are in her own past. There's something fascinating about that; being on par with the narrator and going through the journey together, as though we're almost part of the story ourselves. The reveals at the end – yes, reveals plural – were all wonderful and unexpected, and that final showdown was the perfectly creepy end to a perfectly creepy story.
 
There's no denying the skill and imagination that went into crafting this story. Quinn truly let her writing run wild and so, in Gardnerville, anything goes. Reading this was like being inside someone else's imagination – it was crazy and nonsensical and unexpected, and so gorgeously unique in all of its erraticness. This is a fantasy in every sense of the word, and when you're reading it's important to bear that in mind. And if you do, you're in for a most surreal ride.

"Sometimes you make bad choices to keep yourself from making other, even worse ones." 

Allie is a Pimm's-obsessed reader, who dreams of road tripping over America, learning to surf & becoming fluent in all the languages of her heritage (which, sadly, does not include Elvish). If she's not reading or blogging, you can find her catching up on Teen Wolf, or reigning supreme with Scrabble/Mario Kart
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30 comments:

  1. Oh my goodness. This sounds like the perfect halloween read. It sucks that my whole October is filled with exams. I have one day of October free and it's the 31st so maybe I do have room for one read...

    This sounds like everything I would want in a book. I adore an unreliable narrator because it makes the mystery feel so real. And suspense levels are what I live for. I'm definitely going to have to add this one to the TBR. Thank you for the fantastic review, Allie! <3

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    1. Yes, read it on Halloween night and your anxiety will thank you (or, well, it won't. But whatever) ;)

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  2. Wonderful bizarre is the perfect title for this book! It really was a crazy ride!

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    1. Definitely – I was hooked all the way!

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  3. Fantastic review. I really do want to read this one!! I wish I had more time to read this month!!

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    1. Do it next month :D it'll be a post-Halloween scare!

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  4. I completely agree with everything you've said here Allie! This is such a weird and imaginative book, but it really ends up working fabulously. Skylar is such a perfect example of what an unreliable narrator should be like, and I absolutely loved how Katie crafted her. Thanks for sharing Allie, and, as always, BRILLIANT review! <3

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    1. SO WEIRD. The forget-me-not thing? I loved that. Everything was just so bizarre and wonderfully creative. I would've never thought to do half the things Kate did with this story!

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  5. Yay! So glad to hear you loved it! I definitely agree, it's a perfect creepy read! I love the train and all the secrets!

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    1. Ahh the train! That reveal with Piper and the train made me shudder!

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  6. Wow, this sounds SO good! I have it on my bookshelf, and it wants to be read (especially after your review!), I am really going to have to make some time to read it ASAP! I had no idea it was a fantasy though! In fact, I don't know what I thought it was. But wonderfully bizarre? Yep, I am in! Great review!

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    1. Oh yeah, it's a total fantasy. Nothing is 'normal' in this book; it's kind of insane like that lol. It's just a world of its own, even though it is technically set in our world

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  7. It sounds like a trip down the rabbit hole. SIGN ME. I'M ALL UP FOR THIS. Well, I mean reading the book. Not going insane. *cackles* Goodness knows I don't need any help with the bonkers part myself.

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    1. INDEED. Prepare to be shrunk to a tiny little Cait. Or have you imagination blown up huge so it's a scary giant.

      (Also: YOU ARE INSANE WHO ARE YOU KIDDING?)

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  8. OMGG I just love how you've reviewed this Allie. I LOVE the fact that it's a creepy town and everyone kind of sounds unreliable and it's suspenseful all the way through. That is totally up my alley! I just love unique reads like this one :D Will have to pick it up soon.

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    1. Thaaaaaank you <333

      The town is just *shudders* and the reveal of how the town came about is creeptastic but SO GOOD

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  9. This sounds like a creepy version of the nonsense we find in Alice in Wonderland. No one ever meaning what they say and hidden meanings behind everything. I love books that mess with your train of thought, they're so incredible different and show how creative some authors can be. I think this is my favourite review so far on Little Birdie, 'Where powers and abilities float through the air like dandelion clocks.'

    So incredibly poetic Allie <3 Absolutely brilliant review. I'm totally smitten.

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    1. Oh, it definitely reminded me of Though the Looking Glass at so many points. There were some amazing parallels there.

      And aw *gushes* THANK YOU SO MUCH. I try to be a bit writerly in my reviews, but never want to go to purple. But poetic? GAH, YOU ARE A SWEETHEART

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  10. 'Wonderfully bizzare' huh?
    Hmm I've heard a lot of mixed things about this one and so I marked it 'not for me' but you've got me reconsidering Allie! Damn it!

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    1. Lily, listen to me AND NOBODY ELSE. You know I'm always right ;)

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  11. Absolute fantastic review, Allie - I've been wanting to read this for a while now. I love the concept of an unreliable narrator and the fact that everyone talks in tongues.

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    1. The whole thing is just a fantastic concept. You really feel like Kate just let loose with this and it worked SO WELL

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  12. i still have yet to read this one and everyone seems to be loving it a lot! Yay for creepy reads, in time for Halloween as well ;)

    Lovely review, Allie! <33

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    1. It's the ideal October book for when you're all alone in the house ;)

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  13. I'm reading this book right now, and before reading your review, I was starting to get the tiniest bit annoyed with the slow pacing at the beginning. (I'm almost at page 100, and there hasn't been much action.) However, your thoughts were just what I needed to get me excited to continue reading - I'm sure I'll appreciate those reveals when they come, and for now I'll just enjoy the eerie world-building that has been taking precedence.

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    1. Yeah, the beginning took a while to get into it but STAY STRONG. Honestly, it gets so good and there are so many cool twists and *breathes* it's awesome. Trust me :)

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  14. Lovely review, Allie! I have this on my TBR list for sure. I love that it sounds so different than anything I've read before. Have you read her first book, too? I've heard interesting things about that one as well.

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    1. Is that Another Little Piece? Weirdly enough, I actually DNFd that book – I honestly just really couldn't get in to it and barely got through fifty pages before I gave up. Weird, huh? Goes to show that one book doesn't define an author!

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  15. You don't know how happy I am to see a glowing review of this book. I have had it for so long and just haven't got to it. I'd been nervous that it wouldn't live up to my expectations, I want to love it so badly! But it sounds like it has everything I could need or want in a book and I am so excited to read it. Thanks for the great review :)

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  16. This book sounds absolutely amazing. I mean, this is right up my alley. I'm curious as to her technique in writing a character who purposefully forgets things about her past. This is now being added to my list of Must Reads for when January comes around. I wish I didn't have my own writing to do or I'd pick it up and read it today lol

    Thanks for the awesome review, Allie!

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