Last week my roommate and I were finally able to make our first Barnes and Nobles run of the semester, and while there a certain book caught my eye. I’m a firm believer in the “don’t judge a book by its cover” concept, however pictures of eyes up close fascinate me, so naturally I am drawn to books that have that image on their cover. The book was Tabula Rasa by Kriisten Lippert-Martin. The synopsis was compelling, and I had every intention of buying the book, however I am a broke college student, so I had to put the beautiful book back on the shelf (it was painful). However, later that night, I was browsing NetGalley and was overjoyed to find Tabula Rasa buried among the YA section. Two days later Egmont Publishing approved my request (guess who just became my new favorite publisher) and I immediately began reading.
This book was everything I had hoped for and even a little bit more. All too often a book has a great synopsis and the idea is fascinating, and then the writing style is awful or the main character is despicable. Tabula Rasa did not fail me however. The storyline was Bourne Identity meets Divergent, and it was a perfect combination of the two. Angel had the spunk and fearlessness of Tris, and the quick thinking and spy-like qualities of Jason Bourne. She was also extremely courageous. She often talks about how she sometimes can’t tell if something is real or not. To me, that seems terrifying, not being able to tell if something is reality or simply something her mind has conjured up. She also talks of feeling empty. I’ve had that feeling before too (though probably not quite as severe), and let me tell you it sucks. There is nothing worse than feeling empty, like you have absolutely nothing. And while she is portrayed at the beginning of the book as being nearly emotionless, Thomas slowly brings out the more caring side of her, and reveals emotions even she doubted she had anymore. Thomas/Pierce was the perfect male interest for Angel. All to often the male interest is the strong rescuer for a weak female, or there is a weak male interest for the strong female to save. Thomas and Angel balanced each other out perfectly. He acknowledged that she was strong, and fearless; he never tried to hold her back from anything, instead he asked “How can I help?” And he was not without his own skills and uses. He hacked their way in an out of countless situations. They were the perfect team. One of the conversations they had I found particularly interesting. Thomas mentions that he was often envious of the tabula rasa patients, and Angel is shocked by this. However, there was a part of me that wondered what it would be like to have a completely fresh start. I love my life, and can’t imagine what I would do if I lost every memory, however it is a fascinating idea. I know there are some who would kill for a completely fresh start, and I think the author did an exceptional job of addressing that. She used Thomas and Angel to present to opposing ideas, which created even more depth to their characters. Even though there was no concrete consensus it appears, based on what occurs throughout the rest of the book, that perhaps the author seems to side with Angel. Our memories are precious, and even though some may be painful, it would be devastating to lose every memory.
The idea behind the book was a fascinating one, and not too unrealistic. It also takes place in present day society, which was something not many sci-fi books do. The idea of wiping someone’s memory completely clean, turning their mind into a blank slate (Tabula Rasa) is not unheard of. Has it ever been done? Probably not. Could it be done in the near future? It seems crazy, but then again so are half of the science experiments currently going on today. I enjoyed how the author used Angel’s sporadic experiences of regaining her memory as a way of giving the reader insight into her past. Both the reader and Angel got to experience that memory for the “first time.”
There were a few cheesy parts, and some of the characters didn’t have nearly the depth they could have. I feel like Jori, Oscar, Larry, 8-Bit, and the soldiers all had the potential for at least a little bit more character building. They weren’t exactly thrown in and then killed off, but there was something very ephemeral about them. I can’t really put my finger on it, but something was definitely missing.
I nearly threw the book across the room at the end of the second to last chapter, except I was reading on my iPad and if that broke I’m out a pretty large sum of money (and as a poor college student that’s a sad thing). However I was completely prepared to write a scathing review and possibly even write a letter to the author. However I kept reading out of morbid curiosity and I’m glad I did. As a result of the last chapter, this book is getting the raving review it deserves. You had me for a solid 5 minutes though Kristen Lippert-Martin.
Despite the mentioned flaws, I really, really enjoyed this book. It was a fast paced read that never lost my attention, and Angel has become one of my favorite protagonists in YA fiction. This book also had some really great quotes, which I’ll list below. From now on, there will be an add on to the end of my posts, “Top 10 Quotes.”Currently, for Tabula Rasa I only have one quote. I got so caught up in the that I forgot to highlight my favorite quotes, however I’ll be going back to re-read it soon and I will update this post then.
Top 10 Quotes:
“A weapon. That’s what I need. That’s what I want. Hiding doesn’t suit me at all.” -Angel