Forest of Memory

The title and cover art grabbed my attention for this book. This picture doesn’t do the cover justice. It is rich and beautiful. Also I happen to know Mary Robinette Kowal is an excellent writer.

Forest of Memory

by Mary Robinette Kowal
Publisher: Tor
Cover Art: Victo Ngai
(Isn’t it amazing?)
96 pages

This story is set in the future when everyone wears a device in their ear that connects them to a network. There is an optical display which allows them to see information above their head about a person as that person approaches.

How cool is that?!

I would love to live in a world where I will never have that embarrassing moment in which I have forgotten someone’s name!

In the story Katya is an antique collector. It is a normal day collecting a new typewriter and some other antiques. She has an appreciation for the story of each item she collects. While on her way to deliver an item for a client, she is kidnapped. Her connection to the network is severed– something she’s never experienced for any length of time. She has no idea why the person has taken her or if she will survive the encounter. During the ordeal, she learns that what she thought she knew, was nothing. There is so much more going on than she originally thought.

The Writing

Kowal’s writing is clear and powerful. Like Hemingway, she wastes no words. I found it easy to read, although I will likely go back and read it again to see what I missed the first time. Now that I know the ending, I imagine I will see more in the second round of reading it. Plus the book is short– a novella I believe.

I was left wanting more, of course. I love big, long stories with complex plots. This one is short and simple. Simple is not really the right word. It has one plot line. I think elegant is the word. Can a thriller-ish story be elegant?

typewriter-2653187_1920Who will like this?

Don’t pick this book up thinking it is a breakneck-speed-thriller. The pacing is not as fast as that, though it does have some of the thriller elements to it. This is a thinking book. Inferencing is required. Kowal assumes her readers are intelligent, which I like very much. It is a book that I could give to my 11 year old students but I think only my most contemplative students would appreciate this book and the beauty of this story.

If you like science fiction mixed with an appreciation for history, this is the perfect book for you! Even though it is SciFi, I think someone who likes realistic fiction might like it. It might be a good book for them to give SciFi a try, especially since it is short.

Foul Language: None
Graphic Violence: None
Sexual Content: None
Substance Abuse: None

I loved this story! Plus now I have a desire to go buy an antique typewriter. What do you think is the most iconic typewriter? I’d love to hear. Post a comment.