Tabula Rasa by Kristen Lippert-Martin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
R for Violence; G for Kissing
I confess, I am hooked on Audiobooks. My dog walking goes faster, my exercising is more palatable, and my drives are more pleasant. Tabula Rasa had a narrator/actress who did an excellent job playing the different roles in the book, which made the story more engaging. So 5 stars for the Audio part.
Now about the story. I was engaged from the first chapter. We start in a hospital where a young woman is undergoing brain surgery to eradicate her memories and give her a clean slate (hence, tabula rasa). Did I mention my BA degree is in Psychology, with a minor in Biology? And my MA is in Psychology, specifically Neuropsychology? Hooked, I tell you seriously hooked. Had to listen to more.
Much like the movie Memento, the backstory is told in jagged bits and pieces, creating a jigsaw puzzle story line for the listener/reader. Sarah (aka Angel) is in the hospital because she was a juvenile delinquent. Or so we are led to believe. The purpose of the neurosurgery is to erase her bad memories and behaviors (it seems). Just as she is about to have her final procedure, the power goes out and someone puts a plastic bag in her hand in the darkness. She is taken back to her video-guarded room by the nurse’s aide where she opens the bag discreetly and finds three gelatin capsules and a note: Take one every 24 hours and remain still upon awakening. She takes one, and nothing happens. Or so she thinks. All hell breaks loose and it’s not in her dreams. It’s real.
This YA novel, a debut at that, had the Hero’s Journey down cold. An orphan living in the ordinary world (in this case in a hospital) has an igniting incident that leads her on a great adventure. Along the way she finds allies (some not so great), enemies, obstacles she must overcome, and a little bit of romance. There is even a magic elixir that she must retrieve to return to a new world. This is not a bad format to follow, indeed Joseph Campbell told us this was the heart of every epic saga.
The good: kick ass Latina heroine, nerdy computer hacker boyfriend, unusual meeting, mysterious backgrounds and hints of powerful, wealthy conspirators out to get the heroine.
The not-so-good: action scenes appeared to be pulled from video games; impossible physical accomplishments; epilogue with unanswered questions regarding heroine’s “after-life.”
The excellent: non-stop action, a page-turning pace, and I hated having to stop listening to the book when my drive was over, or my dogs were done walking. I stayed up late in bed just to listen to the end and fell asleep. Got up early just to hear the ending---again.
Overall, 4.5 stars and congratulations to Ms. Lippert-Martin and narrator on a winning combination for an audio book. I will be looking for more books by this author.
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