For me, sometimes I find that I will connect a particular memory to a book and that memory is the reason that I hold onto that book. While I have always been an avid reader, I used to get my books exclusively from the library or as gifts. There was the occasional book fair at school (how I loved those), but for the most part, I didn’t buy books. It wasn’t until later in life when I discovered not only my love for shopping, but my love for buying and owning books. The first book that I ever bought by myself—a shopping trip without my Mom along—was “Mortal Memory” by Thomas H. Cook. I don’t know if I even read the back of the book or if it was just the cover that intrigued me enough to make me buy that book. The cover of “Mortal Memory” says: “What did my father do? He killed my mother, my sister, and my brother, then waited to kill me…” This alone was enough to make me want to read the book. I bought it at the Doylestown Book Store, one of my favorite locations in Doylestown. I bought it and put it on my bookshelf and promptly forgot about it. I’ve picked the book up a few times with the thought of reading it but never really got around to it. I’ve probably had this book in my possession for more than ten years. A few days ago, I decided that it was time and I picked up “Mortal Memory” to finally read it.
With so much hype built up around the book, I kind of expected to be instantly enamored with the novel to the point of not being able to put it down. While the book was intriguing, I found that it went a little slower than I expected. Also, one of the characters in the book was named “Rebecca” which sort of bothered me. I feel like too many people throw around the name “Rebecca” or “Becky” and the characters are not always deserving. I guess I’m a bit of a snob about my name. Either way, the book was interesting enough to keep me reading but not so interesting that I would curl up on the couch and ignore the TV while Adam watched whatever show he wanted.
A couple of things about the book threw me off. First of all, I didn’t realize that the main character—the narrator—was a guy until I was a few chapters in. I always tend to make the main character a female unless otherwise directed, so I was forced to adjust the character after starting the book. Not a big deal, but I did find it a bit strange.
The main character, Stevie, told his story almost backwards. He began by talking about all the things that he didn’t remember about that day that his family was murdered, until Rebecca. This went on for a few chapters to the point where I was very curious as to who this Rebecca was. Once introduced, Rebecca becomes a very intriguing character. I found that I liked her despite the theft of my name. The more I learned about Rebecca though, the less that I liked Stevie. In a way, he wasn’t a very relatable character and while you feel sympathy for what he has gone through in his life, at the same time you wonder why he let things go the way that they did.
Now I mentioned that the book wasn’t an edge-of-your-seat read. This was true up to a point. Towards the end of the novel, many different things are implied to the audience at the end of each chapter and I found myself needing to know what happened. Stevie’s quest to find answers matched my own curiosity and I eventually did find myself reading whenever I could find a moment. What really got me about this book was the twist. I love a good twist, and I really didn’t see this one coming. I had a couple of theories which I will refrain from naming in case you choose to read this book, but in the end I was blindsided by the abrupt twist.
Would I recommend this book? Yes and no. It really depends on what kind of reader you are. If you are a big fan of books that immediately drag you into the story then this may not be the book for you. However, if you like a good mystery and an excellent twist as the icing on the cake “Mortal Memory” by Thomas H. Cook would be worth a read. It is probably not going to become one of the books that I read over and over again, but I may pick it up again someday to see if it reads any differently with me knowing the end.