Hardcover, 336 pagesExpected publication: June 10th 2014 by HarperTeenSource: Edelweiss
Don’t You Forget About Me is the second offering by Kate Karyus Quinn who gave us the slightly magical Pieces of Me last year. Like in her previous novel, Quinn marries the mystical to the realistic and creates a novel that straddles the fence between fantastic and realistic. I won’t go so far as to call it magical realism but I believe the book has an inherent flavour to it similar to the books by Sarah Addison Allen.
Sky Gardner lives in a town called Gardnerville where no one ever grows old or gets sick. In exchange for these good fortunes, the town has fourth years where kids develop strange powers that manifest in horrible, fatal ways and ends up killing many, many children. We meet Sky during a fourth year. She is still trying to come to terms with the last fourth year when her older sister led a group of kids to the train tracks and then made them jump off before disappearing herself.
I initially liked Sky a lot but then, as the narrative went on, I started to dislike her. I have a thing against protagonists who spend most of their time in drugged stupor. I refuse to understand their reasons for doing so and being so. There is no justification for drugs. Seriously. Anyway, my good feelings for her never did come back though I was persuaded to cut her some slack. I didn’t have to like her to enjoy the story and I did. I thought it was weird and imaginative and had a mythology that I hadn’t yet come across in my readings.
The book is, I would argue, intensely introspective. It deals with finding it in oneself to accept yourself as you are, warts and all. It argues passionately about taking the rose coloured glasses off to look at the world in all its twisted glory and to accept it, and perhaps even celebrate it, the way it is. It also cautions against things that promise everything; if something looks too good to be true, it probably is. I found the novel more compelling in the latter half, after the reader has become acquainted with the unpredictable twist.
Sky’s relationship to her sister is one of the more persuasive elements in this novel but I have to admit that I wasn’t a fan of the alternate time chapters that developed this relationship. I felt that interrupting the linear narrative with every other chapter talking about what happened in the past detracted from the primary narrative and left me feeling frustrated by the break. I wanted to move on with the story and not have to go back every other chapter.
Still, I enjoyed the novel for its innovation and it has left me looking forward to whatever Quinn comes up with next.