Word Spelunking

Remembrance - Michelle Madow The idea of reincarnation and past lives fascinates me and is what drew me to Michelle Madow’s novel Remembrance. Because of my genuine fascination with the book’s subject matter, I had very high expectations for this book, some of which were met and some of which feel a little short. In Remembrance we are introduced to high school junior Lizzie Davenport. Lizzie is your average teenage girl with a cute boyfriend, Jeremy, and a best friend Chelsea, dealing with all the ups and downs that come with high school. Basically, her life is pretty normal… until she meets Drew Carmichael, the gorgeous new guy at school. Lizzie feels an instant connect with Drew; a connection that is complicated by three factors: 1) her relationship with Jeremy 2) the fact that her BFF Chelsea starts to date Drew 3) Drew seems to want nothing to do with her. Lizzie tries to ignore this connection and her feelings for Drew, but finds that she cannot fight them, especially after learning that she and Drew were in love in a past life and may have a second chance to fix what was broken so long ago.Remembrance is well written, especially for a debut novel. Madow write with a natural, confident talent. The story is a bit slow in the middle, but for the most part it’s well paced and has a nice flow, and the story kept my attention from beginning to end. I found the later chapters to be especially captivating and real page turners. Like I said, I was drawn to the paranormal/fantasy aspect of this novel dealing with past lives/reincarnation, and while I enjoyed how Madow approached and used this topic and found her idea to be unique, I didn’t find the book to be overly original. I was a bit disappointed that the book didn’t bring something excitedly new to the table where the paranormal/fantasy aspect is concerned. The characters in this book are nicely developed and realistic. Lizzie is relatable and easy to like. She’s smart, thoughtful, and not afraid to speak her mind. But she is also flawed, which makes her dimensional and makes her actions, reactions, thoughts, words, etc feel organic and not forced. I particularly liked Lizzie’s conflicted emotional journey throughout the book and felt as if it were something that many girls could relate to on a personal and emotional level. I found Drew’s character harder to like and get to know, because his personality is a bit all over the place and I feel like I never really got the chance to “know” his character. Lizzie’s boyfriend Jeremy and her BFF Chelsea are very realistic as teenage characters. They both exhibit attributes that, at times, can come across as shallow and selfish, but at the same time there’s obviously much more to them than this, they have their own underlying insecurities and issues. Even though Lizzie and Drew are the main characters, I think Chelsea and Jeremy prove to be the more realistic teenage characters.At the heart of this book is the love story between Lizzie and Drew, and there is a real sweetness to their love that is easy to root for. But at the same time, the way the love between the two is presented and described in this book makes me slightly wary, because while there does exist a sweetness and a genuine lovingness to their relationship, there is also a slight obsessive, all consuming-ness to it as well. I can surely appreciate the fact that Lizzie and Drew’s love has transcended time, but at the same time modern Lizzie and Drew’s love seems to develop quickly, perhaps too quickly. I think I would have liked to have actually seen them fall in love and not just be told that they are in love. Throughout the book, Lizzie references Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice a lot, and I really liked the way Lizzy Bennet and Lizzie Davenport’s lives parallel one another, especially since Lizzie and Drew’s past life was in the Regency era. This added a smart layer to the storyline. I was expecting there to be more of a conflict or some kind of obstacle in the way of Lizzie and Drew’s relationship, other than Jeremy and Lizzie of course, and when this conflict didn’t arise by the middle of the book I was a bit disappointed. However, towards the ending Madow adds a surprising twist and turn of events that I found intriguing and really added that much needed suspense.Overall, I really liked this book and found it enjoyable to read. Madow proves to be a talented and promising new author. There are aspects of Remembrance that really grabbed my attention and some not so much. I think it will appeal to many YA readers, from Jane Austen fans to Stephenie Meyer fans. In particular, if you are looking for a simple and sweet para-romance then this is definitely the book for you.

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