Each half of Last Memoria is from a different first-person point of view. Sarilla, the narrator of the first half, is half-memoria and half-human. She has the ability to steal people's memories and has been despised for it all of her life by everyone, including herself. She learned long ago that everyone lies yet still fervently believes that each deserves one chance for redemption. Falon, the second protagonist, also knows what it is to be hated, not for his race but because he is a bastard son. Six months of his memories have been stolen from him, not only tearing away a part of himself but also damaging his relationships with the ones he loves. He's determined to regain what he lost and isn't afraid to use Sarilla to do it.
You begin the book feeling as though you've missed half of the story. There's no info-drops or convenient expositions to get you up to speed. All you know are Sarilla's thoughts. It's almost as if you're missing memories, just as her victims are. The first-person point of view of this emotional narrative places you down in the depths with the characters, searching for answers just as they are.
As I mentioned before, the decisions in this book are far from black and white. Each reader will have to decide for themselves who, if anyone, is truly in the right, or if perhaps no one is, yet we can't fault them for doing the best they can. Last Memoria explores psychological abuse, hatred, deception, and self-loathing. It's hard to know who is to blame for starting the destructive cycle of hate, but it is a cycle that almost no one can escape.
The abilities of the memoria are the driving force behind the plot, meaning if they aren't well-developed, then the whole book fails. Thankfully, they are. The book takes place in a unique world which you only gradually come to know. Even then, you only know what's necessary. If you're someone who wants to know every single detail of a world, then you'll likely find yourself frustrated. But the pieces do fit together, even if it isn't evident at first. There are plenty of adequately foreshadowed yet surprising plot twists, including the ending.
Shaw's prose is beautiful. She's adept at depicting emotions and one's inner thoughts, which she has to be for this book to work. But what I appreciated perhaps most of all in her writing was the authentic dialogue, which adds a great deal to the characterization. Speaking of which, the secondary characters in this novel were a delight -- each a unique individual who you knew to have a compelling backstory, even if you never found out what that was. Another small element I appreciated was the presence of a bisexual protagonist whose bisexuality wasn't a big deal. It just was, as it should be.
If there's one negative thing about this book, it's the side-effects of having so much packed into so few pages (253, to be exact). There are a couple of coincidences, especially towards the beginning, that require a bit of extra suspension of disbelief, and there's once or twice when I got whiplash from a character's changing emotions, even though they made sense within the narrative. Finally, I didn't quite enjoy Falon's POV in the second half as much as I had Sarilla's, but it was necessary, and for me, it worked out in the end.
If you haven't guessed so far, I give Last Memoria five out of five. I was hoping this indie-published novel would hold up to my high expectations based on the premise, and it did. It took me on an emotionally gripping journey and made me question my own thought processes. Many thanks to the author for providing me a free ARC of this book. Last Memoria will be published on May 10th, and the audiobook is already available for free, courtesy of the author (see Goodreads).
I was provided a free advanced copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.