Wednesday 8 March 2017

All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker

Published by HQ on February 23, 2017

All Is Not Forgotten is a book that came with a lot of hype. In the run up to its hardback publication, I couldn’t scroll through more than a few tweets without seeing mentions of the book. I love seeing such a buzz for a book but I do prefer to read those books a bit later than everyone else so I don’t know what to expect or feel disappointed if it doesn’t live up to the expectations I had. This is how I approached All Is Not Forgotten. I read it about a week before its paperback release when I was switched off to what all the fuss was about. I saved myself a lazy weekend to read it in and finished it on the Sunday night. Then I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

I don’t think this book fails to live up to its hype. Actually I hate that word. Tons of people talking about the same book, pushing the same book should not in my opinion be spoke about in a bad way. I think it’s great if a book causes such a reaction within people that all they want to do is talk about it. And this is such a hugely thought-provoking book so I completely get it. I understand why so many people have been talking about All Is Not Forgotten, but the book just didn’t work for me. I tried with it. I was really intrigued right from the first page, which is why I finished the book. I really wanted to get to the bottom of what I was reading. But I have to say that this book left me feeling a little deflated.

Jenny Kramer is at a party when she becomes the victim of a brutal attack. Jenny is raped. At the hospital, her family come to the decision to have her memory of the traumatic event medically erased. I found this concept absolutely fascinating and outrageous at the same time. It’s a theme perfectly suited for a book club discussion. Though Jenny’s memory has been erased, she knows something has happened and it’s not going away. The scar on her back is testament to that. What follows is a twisty turny tale narrated by the psychiatrist the Kramer family are seeing to help them process the attack Jenny suffered.

I really wanted to like the style this book was written in for it was clever, and different, and normally I love it when an author switches things up a bit. But no matter how much I tried, the narration didn’t work for me. The story is a shocking one, it doesn’t skirt around any controversial themes, it’s suspenseful and interesting, but I also found it stilted. I found that the shock-factor didn’t impact me as much as it should, because I was disconnected from the characters. I didn’t particularly care for the characters. Not just because I didn’t like them but because for the most part I didn’t really even care what happened to them - because the book lacked emotion, it didn’t particularly inspire any in me. Jenny was the victim of something absolutely horrible, but something was stopping me feeling sympathetic or angry for her. It wasn’t the characters that kept me reading. In fact at times I didn’t really know what was keeping me reading. There was something about this book that lured me in, but I can’t say I particularly enjoyed it.

About two thirds into All Is Not Forgotten and I was glad I stuck with it. I felt I grew into the style of the book better and became much more absorbed in the story. There were several surprising elements to the plot which made me stop and think and I do like it when a book lingers on my mind whether I’m reading it at the time or not. Another thing I liked was the way the book ended which I hadn’t been expecting but found it was fitting and did the rest of the story justice. But overall I just wasn’t a fan of All Is Not Forgotten. After a shocking, graphic beginning, I found this to be a torturously slow-building thriller. The pacing and narration didn’t do it for me. I couldn’t stand the psychiatrist and some of the things he came out with, and through his narration I didn’t feel like I knew the other characters as well as I should either. I can understand why people have been talking a lot about this book, but it wasn’t for me.

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