My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
All is Not Forgotten is actually proving to be downright impossible for me to review. I finished it a couple of days ago but honestly I still can’t make my mind up what I think about it. What I will say is that it’s a book with a lot of different and fascinating ideas and concepts that really gets you thinking.
It wasn’t at all what I was expecting from the blurb in both good and bad ways. It’s a lot more intelligent, more thought out but also much slower. It’s not an edge of your seat thriller but rather a slow building story about the lengths a parent will go to protect their child, the importance of memory and closure and the effects that a brutal event can have on a close knit community.
The story begins with the rape of a teenage girl Jenny Kramer and this is a brutal and horrific ordeal. Her parents, trying to spare her the emotional effects of the trauma, approve a treatment that will remove the memory of the ordeal. The treatment is a success but while the memory is gone from her mind, her body remembers the trauma, leaving her feeling unsettled and out of place somehow.
Her mother Charlotte is trying to forget it ever happened and restore normality for the family but her father Tom, feeling guilty that he couldn’t protect his baby girl is determined to find and punish the culprit. As time passes and the perpetrator has still not been found cracks start to form in the family and the community as a whole.
This story completely hooked me at the start. The description of the attack on Jenny is fairly graphic and brutal and yet is told from a seemingly objective and emotionless perspective that is somehow even more compelling. It almost feels at the start that some omniscient presence is telling the story of the events that unfolded. As it turns out this omniscient presence is the psychiatrist, Dr Forrester, who is treating both Jenny and her parents but also helping the police with their investigation.
He’s slightly on the outside of events and for me this created a lot of my problems with the story. Dr Forrester is a sort of independent distant observer who knows (or finds out) more details than probably any other character. This objectivity however creates a bit of a distance from the events and the emotions of the story. This isn’t particularly helped by the fact that Dr Forrester is not the nicest of characters. He comes across as superior, arrogant and unsympathetic to the other characters. He sees them as a problem to be solved and he is the only one up to the task.
He also has a bit of a tendency to wander off on tangents and talk about things that seem unrelated to events, the science behind the memory loss, other patient he’s treating and his own background. This seems to slow the plot down a lot. He does raise some fascinating questions which I’m sure book groups could spend hours discussing but at times I just wanted the story to move on.
I have to admit that I put this book down a few times while I switched to reading something lighter and a bit more fun which is generally indicates I’m not enjoying a story.
I did however persevere and I’ve very glad I did. Around the 60% mark there’s a massive shift in the story and it completely hooked me in. I won’t say what this was but all of a sudden I couldn’t put it down. There were a lot of twists and turns and it definitely kept me guessing.
The other characters in the story are very well defined but we see all of them through the eyes of the psychiatrist so it’s pretty much impossible to connect to any of them which is a shame but makes for a very different type of read. There is also no real dialogue in the story, which is something I really missed, as all conversations are recounted by Dr Forrester as he tells his story but it was still strangely addictive and compelling in places.
So overall…yep I’d recommend it. It’s definitely something different, the writing is excellent and there are some fantastic twists towards the end. Just don’t expect an action packed, fast paced thriller.
Thanks to the publishers and NetGalley for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.