In Nora’s world, people are encouraged to do their duty as good consumers and buy plenty of products to help the economy. There is also the constant threat of terrorism, with things constantly being blown up, although the government does not want people to dwell on it. Instead, they are encouraged to go to a center, take a pill, and erase stressful memories. When Nora witnesses a horrific event and goes to the center for her pill, she encounters Micah, a boy who changes her entire world view. But how can you make an impact on the world when nobody remembers the bad?
In some ways, Memento Nora reminded me of the movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. The major message of the book is that we have pain so that we can learn from it. By erasing bad memories from our minds, we are setting ourselves up to repeat the mistakes of our past. Nora learns that her family life is terrible–she just didn’t see it before, because her mother is in a constant state of forgetting.
The dystopian society presented in this book is like an extreme view of today’s America. Consumerism is at a high point, and like a snake eating its own tail, Americans are encouraged to spend as much as possible to keep the economy healthy. Sound familiar? Americans also live in a constant police state. It’s questionable whether the violence in the streets is really caused by terrorists, or if the government is creating fear as a tool to keep the population too afraid to realize that their rights have all been taken away. I really hope that young people read this book and look at the way the world is today. High school seniors graduating now were only about 8 years old when the attacks on 9/11 occurred–I think we can acknowledge that we live in a very different world now, and that we seem ready to go along with such things as the Patriot Act and TSA back scatter machines. Franklin once wrote: “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
This book is written for a younger teen audience. It’s told through the first-person perspective of three of the characters, although they all sound a bit alike. The key slang word used constantly was “glossy”–life is glossy, those clothes are glossy, I was feeling very unglossy. Whenever fake slang is made up it rubs me the wrong way. It never sounds natural.
I like the ideas behind this book. I think it was written a bit young for my tastes, but would like to see a younger audience picking up on its themes and considering the kind of world they would like to live in, and the consequences of turning over freedoms blindly.