Friday, May 24, 2013

Mini-trend: Amnesia in YA

Current YA seems to be full of girls who can't remember who they are. Or perhaps if they can remember who they are, they don't remember the past five years, or five weeks, or five hours. Usually, someone is trying to kill them, and the clue to who and why lies in the lost memories.

After reading The Testing and The Program in quick succession, I realized that amnesia is a pretty huge topic right now in YA fiction. I can see the appeal - it adds automatic suspense and a sense of the mysterious. At the same time, it can be a bit of a cheat (memories come rushing back and all problems are solved!), and it often leads to a disappointing reveal.

Below are just a smattering of titles published within the last twelve months, plus a few upcoming ones we'll get later in 2013. I think it's pretty remarkable there are so many in just a little over a calendar year. If I extended the date range to two or three years, there'd be even more (such as Cat Patrick's Forgotten or Elizabeth Scott's As I Wake). So many! Descriptions come from Worldcat.

Don't Turn Around by Michelle Gagnon (August 2012)
After waking up on an operating table with no memory of how she got there, Noa must team up with computer hacker Peter to stop a corrupt corporation with a deadly secret. Kimberly's review

All the Broken Pieces by Cindi Madsen (December 2012)
Following a car accident, Liv comes out of a coma with no memory of her past and two distinct, warring voices inside her head. As she stumbles through her junior year, the voices get louder until Liv meets Spencer, whose own mysterious past also has him on the fringe.

Hysteria by Megan Miranda (February 2013)
After stabbing and killing her boyfriend, sixteen-year-old Mallory, who has no memory of the event, is sent away to a boarding school to escape the gossip and threats, but someone or something is following her.

Pretty Girl-13 by Liz Coley (March 2013)
Sixteen-year-old Angie finds herself in her neighborhood with no recollection of her abduction or the three years that have passed since, until alternate personalities start telling her their stories through letters and recordings. Kelly's review

Unremembered by Jessica Brody (March 2013)
A girl, estimated to be sixteen, awakens with amnesia in the wreckage of a plane crash she should not have survived and taken into foster care, and the only clue to her identity is a mysterious boy who claims she was part of a top-secret science experiment. Kimberly's review

The Program by Suzanne Young (April 2013)
When suicide becomes a worldwide epidemic, the only known cure is The Program, a treatment in which painful memories are erased, a fate worse than death to seventeen-year-old Sloane who knows that The Program will steal memories of her dead brother and boyfriend.

Arclight by Josin L. McQuein (April 2013)

The first person to cross the barrier that protects Arclight from the Fade, teenaged Marina has no memory when she is rescued but when one of the Fade infiltrates Arclight, she recognizes it and begins to unlock secrets she never knew she had.
Nothing But Blue by Lisa Jahn-Clough (May 2013)
Aided by a mysterious, possibly magical dog named Shadow and by various strangers, a seventeen-year-old with acute memory loss who calls herself Blue makes a 500-mile trek to her childhood home, unaware of what she has left behind.

The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau (June 2013)
Sixteen-year-old Malencia (Cia) Vale is chosen to participate in The Testing to attend the University; however, Cia is fearful when she figures out her friends who do not pass The Testing are disappearing. Kimberly's review

The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die by April Henry (June 2013)
She doesn't know who she is. She doesn't know where she is, or why. All she knows when she comes to in a ransacked cabin is that there are two men arguing over whether or not to kill her. And that she must run. Follow Cady and Ty (her accidental savior turned companion), as they race against the clock to stay alive.

Another Little Piece by Kate Karyus Quinn (June 2013)
A year after vanishing from a party, screaming and drenched in blood, seventeen-year-old Annaliese Rose Gordon appears hundreds of miles from home with no memory, but a haunting certainty that she is actually another girl trapped in Annaliese's body.


  1. I've been hearing some great things about The Program, so I'll probably check that one out. Hysteria, though...ugh, what a disappointment. I rarely DNF books, but I almost dropped that one with less than 50 pages to go, it was so frustrating in how much it missed the mark.

    1. I agree 100% about Hysteria. It was a mess. And I enjoyed her debut, Fracture so much...

  2. I have an ARC of Another Little Piece and I really enjoyed it. Fascinating twist on this topic.

  3. Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin is still my favorite of that genre. :)

  4. This is a mini-trend! Don't forget False Memory by Dan Krokos, where the main character wakes up with some memories gone (though, not all of them...)

  5. There's also Being Henry David, which is about a boy, for an amnesiac change of pace.


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