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Monday, October 27, 2008

"The Memorist" by M.J. Rose (Reviewed by Liviu C. Suciu)

Official M.J. Rose Website
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AUTHOR INFORMATION: M.J. Rose is the international bestselling author of ten novels including “The Reincarnationist”. She is also the coauthor of two nonfiction books on marketing: “How to Publish and Promote Online” (w/Angela Adair Hoy) and “Buzz Your Book” (w/Douglas Clegg). M.J. is a founding member and board member of International Thriller Writers and the founder for the first marketing company for authors: Author Buzz. She also runs two popular blogs in Buzz, Balls & Hype and Backstory.

INTRODUCTION:The Memorist” is volume two of a loose series by M.J. Rose which is centered around the idea of reincarnation, past lives and a society/foundation dedicated to proving scientifically the validity of those concepts. After finishing “The Memorist”, I read “The Reincarnationist” which is the first volume in the series. Between the two, “The Memorist” is superior in many respects and has me really looking forward to the next installment…

Even though “The Memorist” has characters and references to “The Reincarnationist”, the book is self-contained and readers should be able to start out with “The Memorist” first like I did, and fully enjoy it. Both novels are romantic thrillers with strong fantastical elements that should appeal to readers of historical thrillers and contemporary fantasy alike.

SETTING:The Memorist” is mostly set in present-day Vienna with interludes occurring in the famous 1814 Congress of Vienna era as well as in the Indus Valley of 2120 B.C.E. The novel's descriptions of Vienna and several of its historical curiosities, some quite dark, are excellent.

FORMAT/INFO: The PDF Advance Reader's Copy of “The Memorist” that I received stands at 444 pages of text divided over 107 numbered chapters. Each chapter has a heading indicating the place, day and time of its action. Every once in a while a quote is also used, mostly from writers and thinkers like Balzac, Whitman, Socrates, Jung, etc. with musings about the possibility of past lives and other relevant tidbits.

At the end of the novel there is an Author Note about what is factual in “The Memorist” regarding setting, historical events and such, as well as the inspiration for some of the fictional organizations and characters that appear. After that, there is a suggested reading list about reincarnation and related subjects that the author recommends for an introduction to the subject.

The Memorist” is written in the third-person via multiple POVs with each short chapter told from the point-of-view of a single character. The main protagonist is Meer Logan, with important roles played by her father Jeremy, her mentor Malachai Samuels who was a main character in “The Reincarnationist”, the journalist David Yalom, the musician Sebastian Otto and several other people from different times and places who you will have the pleasure of discovering.

The ending is very well done and wraps up the main threads of the novel as well as advancing the overall arc of the series. Personally, I am quite interested in reading the next installment and hope we get to see Meer again since she is the most interesting and well-developed character so far…

November 1, 2008 marks the North American Hardcover publication of “The Memorist” via
Mira Books.

PLOT HINTS AND ANALYSIS: Meer Logan is a 31-year-old woman who is currently working for the Phoenix Foundation, an organization dedicated to the exploration of memory and does a lot of work helping children cope with the “overwhelmingness” of “past-life” memories. Meer was one such child and at the age of nine, experienced such a powerful memory flash that, in her panic, she suffered a terrible spine injury that almost left her paralyzed for life. After she recovered from the accident, Meer shut down emotionally and only the treatment of Malachai Samuels, an associate of her father Jeremy, allowed her to develop the techniques necessary to deal with those overwhelming experiences.

Meer does not believe that the flashes she experiences are truly “past-life” memories, but merely false memories. However, she renounced her early passion for music and dedicated herself to the understanding of how memory works and is now an associate of Malachai despite her complete disbelief in the theories embraced by her father and Malachai.

Through her memory flashes, Meer finds herself connected to a magical flute that was supposedly discovered in India in the early 1800s by one of the founders of the Memorist society which is based in Vienna—both Jeremy and Malachai are prominent members of the society. After various adventures, the “magical” flute is given to Beethoven to decipher its mysterious music that may be a key to unearthing memories of earlier lives, but Margaux—the desperate wife of the disappeared discoverer of the flute—wants it back so she can sell it to other interested parties and raise money for an expedition to find her husband. When Jeremy Logan, the “Indiana Jones” of Jewish artifacts, finds a previously unknown posthumous Beethoven letter in Vienna that may lead to the flute and the music, there is a stunning fact: the letter was discovered in an old gaming box that Meer used to draw obsessively as a child! Meer believes the drawing is from her imagination or from seeing it elsewhere, but Jeremy and Malachai insist that she drew it from a past life memory. So Meer flies to New York to see the box and letter for herself, and maybe acknowledge that her visions are not false memories after all, but actually true glimpses of past lives…

In a different thread, journalist David Yalom, a veteran of covering numerous terrorist and underground organizations, is on a path of revenge after his family was murdured due to one of his articles. The target of David’s revenge is a famous Beethoven concert attended by many VIPs…

The Memorist” took a little while for me to get into because of its multiple threads, characters and short chapters that jump around. However, once I started understanding what the book was about and once Meer started taking over the novel, I couldn’t put “The Memorist” down and just had to find out what happens.

Highly recommended…

NOTE: This review and the giveaway (Posted at Noon) is part of the
October/November 2008 M.J. Rose Book Tour sponsored by TLC Book Tours. Be sure to check out the rest of the tour stops!


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