(Don’t You) Forget About Me

18599667Author: Kate Karyus Quinn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: recipe-for-awesomesauce, magical-realism, fairy-tale-and-or-retelling

I think there’s some magic in this story, not fictional magic, but the kind that enchants its readers and grapples with their memory of reading the book. See, all the while reading (Don’t You) Forget About Me, I was alternately thinking about the last exam due the next day, how the story feels protracted it seemed and all the other jaded feelings. Somewhere along the way, however, I was enchanted into Gardnerville, and now there’s a price to pay.

Now all I think about are the lingering and mesmerizing characters. And how immensely sad and unhealthy and haunting this book can be.

The story is dichotomous, and its first half may drive away a lot of readers. It’s all over the place, it’s messed up because our protagonist, Skylar, is fucked up-she’s been drugging herself for years now. What happens every moment, what happens right now, we find out ages into the story the actual sequence from someone else. When I wasn’t thinking wearisome it was, I actually liked it because it built up the atmosphere; I got to experience Skylar at her worst and forger connection with a unlikable, ignominious heroine. I was there for the ride.

During the second half, pieces start to come together and it’s fucking mind-blowing. Quinn’s written a genius book, truly. There an ingenious and troubling twist on the The Pied Piper wrapped up within. Doubtlessly, it’s one of the most original and mind-bending and poignant story I’ve read in a while.

There is an incontestable beauty to Quinn’s prose and characters, and an unexpected horror. And that’s why the concept of Gardnerville, and a price to pay, works so well for this story. It’s a crazy town, and it’s scary without the use of traditional elements like gore, birds, shock factors. The true horror is in how far people may go for paradise, how every price is payable, and in how the mind can never let go.

Everything not saved will be lost.
~Nintendo

However, what haunts me to this day are the characters. I cannot say too much at this point for fear of spoiling, but I wonder what it must be like to be Skylar’s sister, Piper. To be (view spoiler) To be in love with someone like Piper. And Skylar. To recover memories you’d rather forget, to finally see yourself for who you are, to see who your sister was. To let go.

The depiction of the bond between Skylar and Piper was so realistic, and despite everything, it brought Skylar to a platform where I could easily connect with her, regardless of any inhibitions might have felt. There are alternate chapters with flashbacks from a past that Skylar can barely remember, and they build up the story of the two sisters: the Pied Piper and Skylar, who’d follow her anywhere. And in there, we see that as much as Skylar loves her, there are moments she hates her so much it blocks everything out. Piper scares Skylar, she hurts Skylar, but she also loves Skylar and Skylar can’t let go of that.

The paranormal side of this story, more magical realism really, is harsh and dark and woods on a snowy evening; it’s weird and lovely. Because it’s heaven and more hell. I think you should take a chance and venture in blindly-it will deliver. Don’t ask what the story it’s about and don’t question it. It will gradually unravel for you and then stick itself back in the right order.

However, it’s not a perfect book. I think in the first half where Skylar just wandered around and the story meandered should have been shortened; it would have given more impact to the latter half. Moreover, more importantly, it wouldn’t be so boring. At times, the plot became too convoluted.

The romance was undeveloped but as a character, I think Foote was the kind of person one could get behind. He never felt contrived or typical or tortured soul; he was simply a fucked-up teenager like Skylar. As real as they get. Yet there is only an inkling of a romance, so it didn’t bother me much.

The last few lines of (Don’t You) Forget About Me are lovely and sorrowful and seriously, not spoilerly at all.

There’s no place like home.
There’s no place like home.
There’s no place like home.

__________________________________

Your past times consisted of the strange,
The twisted and deranged
And I loved that little game you had called “Crying Lightning”
And how you like to aggravate the ice-cream man on rainy afternoons…

…Uninviting
But not half as impossible as everyone assumes
You are crying lightning

Your past times consisted of the strange,
The twisted and deranged
And I hate that little game you had called “Crying Lightning”

I think these lines could express what I think Skylar feels towards Piper, all the sky-rocketing, see-sawing feelings. The tune of the song doesn’t go along with the atmosphere of the story but it’s the tone of the bond between them-or my version of it-back when they were kids.

Review copy provided by publishers.

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