Book Review, Middle Grade Fiction

The Memory Thieves by Darren Simpson

When tragedy and trauma strikes, what is the best way to cope with difficult memories? Should we push all the feelings aside and try to forget what’s happened or face the pain and try to deal with it? The Memory Thieves explores this question and how to find true healing.

This book had me hooked from the very first chapter. Before I realised it, I was completely pulled into the unique premise and fascinating world of the Elsewhere Sanctuary where young people go to forget the horrible events of their past. The residents arrive broken and full of pain. Through strict “treatment”, they are helped to forget the life that came before – even their names disappear as they live a timeless, routineless existence.

For most of the residents, this peaceful numbness seems to be helping – until a new resident arrives and life is disrupted. Cyan and the others begin to ask questions about the care they’re being given and whether it is actually in their best interest.

I was fascinated by the issues of ethical science and medicine presented in this book. It is a complicated idea presented in a way middle grade readers will be able to understand. This book does need to come with a bit of a reader warning – adults recommending this book should be aware of any children who have been through a traumatic experience and may find the theme of this book challenging. Most children will be able to read it but may need someone to talk to about what they find inside. There is an appendix of suggestions for dealing with a painful experience that many readers will find helpful.

The Memory Thieves is a thought-provoking science fiction novel that will challenge young readers to think about human rights and what is ethical in a fresh, new way.

Thank you to Usborne Books for this brilliant book!

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