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    REVIEW: Mnevermind Trilogy by Jordan Castillo Price

    Blew me away, it did. As Elijah puts it, it was superlative!

    The Mnevermind Trilogy completely sucked me into this highly immersive alt-world of artificial memories, rinky dinky tech and mnemography geeks. The world-building came together so seamlessly and intuitively, it was exactly like a mnem. The entire experience was so realistic, it even went persistent. JCP, I bow to your genius!

    Other reviewers talked about the realism, I echo the sentiment. Even the language was very natural and easy to pick up, I could add it to my everyday vocabulary and it would fit right in. But the world is just one part of what makes this trilogy so good. Each book delivered heart, soul and grit. Mnevermind is one of the most addicting series I have ever read. I give it all my stars.

    1. The Persistence of Memory – Jordan Castillo Price

    Every day, Daniel Schroeder breaks his father’s heart.

    The two of them have always been close, which makes it all the more difficult to break the daily news: the last five years were nothing like Big Dan remembers.

    They’re both professionals in the memory field–they even run their own memory palace. So shouldn’t they be able to figure out a way to overwrite the persistent false memory that’s wreaking havoc on both of their lives? Daniel thought he was holding it together, but the situation is sliding out of control. Now even his own equipment has turned against him, reminding him he hasn’t had a date in ages by taunting him with flashes of an elusive man in black that only he can see.

    The Elijah character makes no sense. Not only does he claim to be straight–which has never piqued Daniel’s interest–but he’s appearing in manufactured memories in which he’s never been programmed. Is it some quirk of the circuitry, or is Daniel’s desire to connect with someone clouding his own memory?

    The Persistence of Memory opened inside a mnem. Daniel, a mnemographer or thought sherpa, surveys the audience of bland faces then he notices someone who stood out with his pale good looks and black clothes. The ‘man in black’ kept appearing in other mnemes where they both experienced a strong connection. The whole set-up had a Phillip K. Dick feel to it, simultaneously futuristic and contemporary. Mnemes are a very interesting concept and I love how JCP made it all plausible while deftly avoiding info-dump.

    Daniel and his dad, Big Dan built their business, AdventureTech from the ground up and their relationship was one of the best things about the entire trilogy. Their struggle with the persistent mnem gripped my heart. Anybody who has dealt with dementia or Alzheimer’s knows what this situation feels like. Poor Daniel takes a lot upon himself and can’t seem to catch a break. The whole book would have felt sad and heavy if not for the sass and comic relief from Larry, Carlota and Aunt Pipsy.

    Daniel’s search for the mystery person who pops up inside the mnemes led him to the mall and Elijah Crowe, a mnem expert stuck teaching dabblers at the mall. Elijah has autism and dealing with the real world can be a struggle but inside a mnem, he can access all parts of his brains. His appearances are frequently preceded by a crow or a burst of black feathers which is super cool.

    I loved Daniel and Elijah’s mnem chemistry. Their real world chemistry was just as wonderful but so much cuter. Daniel sees Elijah’s worth beyond his ‘weirdness’ and I’m happy they both got a shot at happiness. But of course it had to end with a cliffhanger…

    5 Stars – absolutely perfect

    Soundtrack: The Connector
    Artist: The Futureheads
    Album: The Chaos

    2. Forget Me Not – Jordan Castillo Price

    No two people are exactly alike, but Elijah Crowe is very, very different. 

    Elijah is on the autism spectrum, so the tasks of day-to-day life most people breeze through are a challenge for him. His career suffered because he never got the hang of schmoozing, and now his talents are being wasted teaching classes at the mall. His social circle is limited to his ex, his therapist, and a structured inclusion group at the Rec Center. The one bright spot in his life is the memory science of Mnemography.

    Although he loves nothing better than devouring the latest research and tinkering with all the specialized equipment, he never clicked with any other experts in the field until he met Daniel Schroeder. Daniel runs a memory palace—he even writes his own mnems—and that shared interest alone would make him fascinating. But Daniel and Elijah met under unusual circumstances, where the statement, “I like you, and I think you like me,” held some surprising nuances.

    Now Elijah suspects he’s gay, but the few prominent people in his life are less than supportive. Some are downright hostile. Elijah might not be neurotypical, but he’s plenty smart. Surely there’s some way to get people to accept him for who he is. If only he could figure out how.

    Some of the most enjoyable conversations I had in my life are with people on the autism spectrum. A friend from anime conventions whom I call Sempai because he’s older, introduced me to Asperger’s syndrome. He had photographic memory and would regale me with trivia on which Kamen Rider actor appeared on which mainstream J-dorama or the possibilities of 80s and 90s cartoon crossovers. My cousin, also on the spectrum, would greet me with “it was Peter Quill’s fault” or “have you seen JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure?” and then discuss the pros and cons of each Stand. None of them asked me if I have a boyfriend, when I going to get married, what I do for a living, who’s going to take care of me if I get old and I don’t have any children or engage in any god awfully inane small talk that most people do in the name of socialization or politeness. They don’t feel the need to fill the silence. There are no hidden motives, mindfucks or sleazy innuendos. I am actually more comfortable with them than with most neurotypical people. This is probably why I love Elijah so much.

    Forget Me Not is Elijah’s POV. I’m not on the spectrum but I really connected with him. His direct, no bullshit speech, his awkwardness at social situations, his discomfort at eye contact. I really hate eye contact too. I could see people’s micro expressions and they could see the flight mode in mine.

    I could also see myself geeking out with Daniel and Elijah over mnemography. JCP‘s science of mnemography raises many thought-provoking issues. I am curious about Elijah’s take on privacy and ethics now that he perfected a technology that allows one to enter another person’s mnem without permission. I’m pretty sure he has a lot to say about that.

    But it’s not just his intelligence and good looks that make Elijah outstanding. He is a brave, beautiful person who faced down bullies, overcame depression, worked around his difficulties, came up with out of the box solutions and helped Daniel be a little bit braver. Which is such an inspiration that when shit happens, I tell myself, if Elijah can handle this, so can I. And so now, for me, Elijah will always be Elijah Crowe

    5 Stars – absolutely perfect

    Soundtrack: Senses Working Overtime
    Artist: XTC
    Album: English Settlement

    3. Life Is Awesome – Jordan Castillo Price

    Daniel Schroeder wants nothing more than to repair his father’s broken memories, but it’s been a long time since he’s thought of himself as a memorysmith. Even though convincing Big Dan of their current reality is the most painful task Daniel faces every morning, somehow life manages to prevent him from finding a cure. He needs to keep their family business running. And he needs to moonlight at a competitor’s shop to keep all his employees paid. Or maybe he’s just trying to keep himself from exacerbating the situation. 

    A year ago, Daniel would have presumed he was clever enough to memorysmith his way out of their predicament, but nowadays he’s not so cavalier. Playing with people’s memories shouldn’t be taken lightly, and things can always get worse. Even with the help of some of the best minds in the business, Daniel still isn’t sure how to navigate his way out of the persistent false memory that’s crippled his life. Is new programming the answer? Better gear? More money? Or is time the only thing that can heal Big Dan’s memories…if they can even be fixed at all. 

    What Daniel needs most is some breathing room, and Elijah Crowe is eager to provide it. Since he’s smitten with Daniel, Elijah is determined to prove himself—and he’s more than qualified to clear Daniel’s schedule by taking over some duties at Adventuretech. With the support of his new boyfriend, possibilities begin to open up for Daniel, hints of things he hasn’t even realized he’d stopped hoping for: the contentment of a harmonious family, the fulfillment of his creative expression, and a chance for a relationship with a man he loves. 

    This book completes the Mnevermind Trilogy.

    Life is Awesome shifts back to Daniel’s POV. It is also the name of the mnem Daniel created that went persistent. Daniel was convinced it was his fault but Elijah was determined to prove him otherwise. Daniel and Elijah also tried to work out the kinks in their relationship like Elijah’s bottoming issues which makes for hella awkward and really funny sex scenes. I was also bracing myself for more painful scenes with Daniel’s mother but thankfully, it only happened once in the second book and never again. This time Big Dan was more aware of his condition. With Elijah’s help, they created anchors to help him remember, easing some of Daniel’s burdens. I started to feel a little relieved at the way things seemed to be looking up and then, shit hits the fan and the Schroeders are in serious danger of losing the business. Damn!

    The learning curve was steep, the hurdles insurmountable. But instead of giving us a resolution where problems magically disappear with the help of the technology, the solutions were workarounds, but, still very clever, very satisfying and realistic. It was the kind of perfect imperfect ending for our two flawed but lovable heroes. Daniel and Elijah were made for each other. Their dynamics is one of my favorite among MM couples. I wish Big Dan all the best and I’m glad he was doing all he could to move on. Ultimately, the takeaway here is we can keep fighting for that awesome dream but sometimes it’s a matter of knowing when to stop struggling and choosing to be happy.

    5 Stars – absolutely perfect


    I most definitely recommend listening to the audiobook compilation Mnevermind: Remember Tomorrow narrated by the brilliant Seth Clayton.

    review of JCP books here

    Soundtrack: Two Kinds of Happiness
    Artist: The Strokes
    Album: Angles

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    The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex

    It all starts with a school essay.

    When twelve-year-old Gratuity (“Tip”) Tucci is assigned to write five pages on “The True Meaning of Smekday” for the National Time Capsule contest, she’s not sure where to begin. When her mom started telling everyone about the messages aliens were sending through a mole on the back of her neck? Maybe on Christmas Eve, when huge, bizarre spaceships descended on the Earth and the aliens – called Boov – abducted her mother? Or when the Boov declared Earth a colony, renamed it “Smekland” (in honor of glorious Captain Smek), and forced all Americans to relocate to Florida via rocketpod?

    In any case, Gratuity’s story is much, much bigger than the assignment. It involves her unlikely friendship with a renegade Boov mechanic named J.Lo.; a futile journey south to find Gratuity’s mother at the Happy Mouse Kingdom; a cross-country road trip in a hovercar called Slushious; and an outrageous plan to save the Earth from yet another alien invasion.

    Fully illustrated with “photos,” drawings, newspaper clippings, and comics sequences, this is a hilarious, perceptive, genre-bending novel by a remarkable new talent.

    I gave this book a 4.5 out of 5. this was a book i picked up at random from a sale and bought because it has pictures. i’m alway wary about reading books with teenage girls (american ones particularly) as the main character because of the usual pitfalls (e.g girl said to be feisty but ends up being rescued anyway, sappy love angles, crass teen language passed on as witty). one thing I like about this is that I can forget that gratuity is a girl. I guess it helps that she is 11 and not 16. and she did end up saving the world herself. i am not that big of a fan of sci-fi and this being a book about alien invasion, I expected it to be really cheesy and campy and it is, but the tongue in cheek humor works because it the same stuff I cringe at in the sci-fi cliches that i always cringe at in the sci-fi stuff i come across with. 

    I like how Tip and JLo the Boov started from this uneasy truce between human and alien invader to a friendship that lasted a lifetime (which here lasted a 100 years). The quiet thoughts between all the running around, hiding and dodging alien guns in a levitating car where I always picture Tip looking up the sky were poignant in that simplistic childlike way that for me always cuts deeper than cloying words of so-called inspirational novels (major reason why i don’t read coelho, et al.). One such instance was when Tip started to realize that the Boov are also a people. 

    Invasion being the running theme here, there’s the white man stealing land from the indians. the boov stealing the planet from humans. the gorgs taking the planet from the boov. even within the boov, the water dweling boovs grabbed the land from the forgotten boovs, those who lived in the land after being exiled. Coming from a colonized country, this struck a chord. Invaders always refer to the action as “discovering”. Conquered people are always thought of as inferior and looked upon as savages. In a few simple word, the author Adam Rex sum it all up via JLo’s comic: “the forgotten are kindly asked to leave, because the forgotten are needed elsewhere”. 

    And most of all, I like that part about the cat. As Tip herself puts it, “And as far as pets go, a cat is a nice thing to have”. And as far as friends go, a Boov can be a nice thing to have.