Thanks to the author for the digital copy of this book in return for my honest review.
Sometimes a book comes along which doesn’t so much push the boundaries of its genre, as rob a juggernaut and smash through them. This is that book. It centres around two teenagers: Hunter, who is trying desperately to recall his past, and Jazz, who would give anything to be able to forget hers. Memories of Hunter’s life begin to resurface and with them come movie reels in his mind, which he discovers are real memories from other people which are coming in through the static. Dark in nature, Hunter is mentally tortured as graphic scenes of self-harm, abuse, rape and forbidden sex play through his mind. As he grapples with the secret trauma his father hoped would never be remembered, Hunter’s abilities allow him to learn more about his sassy friend Jazz’s secret pain. They take strength from each other as they try to rebuild from the ordeals no teenagers should experience, and work together to try and save lives.
Where to start? I’m not going to give trigger warnings as I’m sure they’re already glaringly obvious by now. I wasn’t sure if I could stomach this novel, as the details are indeed graphic. However, I realised that my discomfort is exactly why I needed to read it. After all, the people who experience such pain in real life can’t choose to shut a book and have it all go away.
The concept of altering someone’s memories, whether the individual’s consent or without, sends my mind down a rabbit hole of possibilities of the effect such an act could have. For example, how much of who we are now is down to our past experiences, and if we don’t remember them, would we still be the same person? As in Some Laneys Died, Skipstone has again managed to mix science and real issues with fiction, to create a riveting and stomach-churning story.
It takes courage to push boundaries and force people to look at the repugnant aspects of society. I take my hat off to Brooke Skipstone for making me see what lies beneath through the eyes of Jazz and Hunter.
An uncomfortable but compelling young-adult read. Finally, if you or someone you know is affected by any of these issues, please speak to a trusted adult.