*I received a free ARC of this book, with thanks to the author. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
Blurb: Would you trust your developing years to a mysterious organization expecting a successful life in return?
In the midst of the 2040s, Livvy Blunt, a girl with an unquiet mind, lives in confinement. Her home is a monastery, a place of silence and meditation created to keep her mind free from the frivolous matters of the modern world.
The Monastery is a corporation with a clear goal: transform young Empty-heads into skilled Silver-hairs. The means to do that are controversial: uploads of skills to the brain. The more youngsters manage to keep their minds empty of gossip and avoid overthinking life, the more skills can be transferred.
Livvy has a hard time trying to keep her mind idle, but her sacrifice should pay off by the promise of a successful future as a Silver-hair, a professional any recruiter would fight to hire. But when time comes for her to choose her set of skills, she is denied every professional and fun skill she ever longed for.
People say she’s lucky for being selected to the Monasterial Upload Program, but she’s not so sure.
This feels like three different stories packed into one, and while I enjoyed each separate section, I never quite felt they cohered for me.
We start with meeting the main character, Livvy, and finding out all about the central concepts of the story: the Monastery, skill uploads and the need to be an ‘Empty-head’ in order to have space for the upload when your day comes. Livvy has a wonderful future planned and has worked hard to clear her mind for her desired skills, and while the reader may find her reliance on her Source (like a personalised mobile information network) concerning, Livvy can’t wait for her U-Day. Until it comes earlier than expected and doesn’t bring the opportunities promised.
I love this part of the story the most, and could easily have read an entire book set in the Monastery and based around their creepy brain-implanting plans, but the story then takes a sudden leap and Livvy is exploring Barcelona and her family history, and finding a little romance along the way.
For me, this middle section was the least compelling, as I felt Livvy’s chemistry with her friend Carol and/or with the sinister High Father was far more convincing than with either of her potential love interests (neither of whom she seems sure about herself). I didn’t really understand how and why she escaped the Monastery so easily either, and I was disappointed that the U-Day/Source drama fell so swiftly into the background.
We do eventually make it back to the Monastery, but under very different circumstances, and the last section of the story is all action and adrenaline, as Livvy and her allies take on the might of two rival tech companies and a group of protestors. Again, I enjoyed the intrigue and adventure in this section, but it felt like an entirely different book to what had come before.
I love the whole idea explored here and really feel this story and characters have a lot of potential, but the overall impression was a little too disjointed for me: I found it hard to get really immersed in the plot or invested in the characters as it alternately rushed and meandered from scene to scene, so I found myself reading eagerly at some points and struggling to continue in others.
This is a really promising YA dystopian concept; it just wasn’t for me.
Memory Full: U-Day is available on Amazon right now!