Saturday, June 12, 2010

My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares AND The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller

I'm doing a joint review - a kind of compare and contrast between these two books (now called a Double Feature).  I read them almost one after the other, quite by coincidence, and it became immediately apparent that they are based on the same myth or story.  It was already fairly familiar to me, from the story in Fallen by Lauren Kate.  But these two are more similar to each other than Kate's version.  I thought it would be interesting to look at them together.

My Name Is Memory   The Eternal Ones

My Name Is Memory by Ann Brashares (Adult)
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Publication date: June 2010
ISBN: 9781594487583

Source: ARC provided by publicist

The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller (YA)
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication date: August 2010
ISBN: 9781595143082
Source: ARC from Traveling ARC Tours

The Plot:

MNIM: Daniel has been following Sophia for many lives - more than a thousand years he's been searching, finding, and losing her.  He is not like most people - he can remember his past lives.  And each memory of her is burned into his mind, haunting him in every new life.  When he finally works up the courage to talk to her, Lucy in this newest life, he ends up scaring her off.  Lucy does not remember Daniel.  Not when she was Sophia or Constance or any of the others.  But, something is beginning to awaken those memories and she is haunted by what might be memories of her past life and love.  Will they have a chance to love each other and live a life together or will another force intervene?

TEO: Haven has spent all her life in Snope City, Tennessee - a tiny town with an even tinier tolerance for different people.  When she starts having visions of a boy she is certain she knows and loves, her strict grandmother and the local pastor are convinced she's possessed by a demon.  But Haven isn't so certain.  She sees Ethan in visions and herself with him.  She knows the city of New York very well for someone who's never been there.  She's also seen her own fiery death in vision.  Convinced she's having visions of a former life, she manages to escape her overprotective grandmother and get to New York to find Ethan.  But even as she finds him and visits the Ouroborus Society for those who've been reincarnated, she must continue to unravel the murky details of her last life, before her current one ends in a similar tragedy.

Similarities: Obviously, both about reincarnation and the love story that draws Daniel/Ethan and Lucy/Haven together in multiple lives.  Also, in both there's a third party that attempts to come between them - one of the reasons for their long thwarted love lives.

Differences: While MNIM talks a lot about both of their former existences, TEO really only talks about the current life and the one just before it.  MNIM focuses on trying to convince Lucy that she and Daniel really did know and love one another before, whereas in TEO Haven doesn't take much convincing - it's the what happens after that matters.

The Characters: 

Daniel, to me, was mostly just creepy.  He basically stalked Lucy in most of her previous lives and in her current one - that is, until it became important for him to watch out for her.  Just the way he tried to convince her she was in love with him was blech to me.  I really preferred Ethan.  Even though in his current life he was not admirable or even terribly nice, he didn't force himself on her (as much).  He basically was the one waiting around for her to find him.  Plus, I liked how his role in the book was less "perfect guy who's loved me for centuries" and more mysterious and uncertain in his motives.  Though he was kind of a controlling jerk too.  Neither one was terribly desirable, if you ask me.  Lucy, on the other hand, I did like.  I like how she wasn't all swoony for him (right away) and didn't exactly trust him.  Haven kind of fell hard for Ethan and then had to backtrack later on.  She made an idiot of herself over and over again.

The Eternal Love Thing:

It's kind of a nice idea in theory, but neither book really had me convinced.  To have a guy who stalks you for centuries and persuades you in each life that you are already in love with him?  Not so much desirable.  For real life?  I'll stick with my fell-in-love-in-this-life husband. 

Things I Liked from MNIM:
I thought the best part of this one was the way it looked at memory and relationships.  Daniel was so focused entirely on his past and his lost chances that he didn't want to face the actual opportunity to be with Lucy, despite the fact that it is exactly what he wanted.  Lucy was caught up in fear and not knowing who Daniel was or what part he might actually play in her life.  It was interesting to me to watch each of them change and realize what holds them back from love and happiness.  It was also really well written, bringing to life different centuries and times with vivid detail.  An excellent journey.  Some favorite quotes:
Doubts, compromises, and disappointments little and big - those usually reside around the eyes, but there are no rules.  The hopes usually lurk around the mouth, but so does bitterness and tenacity.  A sense of humor is easy to spot around the eyebrows, and so is self-deception.  p 56 of ARC
Smell was like the wormhole connecting you to the other parts of your life.  Memories of smell didn't fade, and they short-circuited your entire psychology - they didn't tunnel through endless experience or get loaded down by any part of your conscious mind.  They stitched you instantly and fully to your other times, without regard to sequence.  It was the closest thing to time travel on this earth. p 114 of ARC

Things I Liked from TEO:
The story was a lot more interesting.  I liked how the ending wasn't exactly what you'd expect.  With MNIM you kind of know exactly what will happen, even if you don't know how they will get there.  But this one was so full of twists and turns, it was like riding a roller coaster without being able to see more than a foot in front of you!  It was a ride, that's for sure.  (After a while, this back and forth started to drive me a bit crazy though.)  It was a lot more light-hearted than MNIM, with fun and quirky minor characters. They provided entertainment and relief from the heavy eternal love thing.  Here's an interesting quote:
You see, faith means listening to your heart, not just your head.  It's not about ignoring facts, it's about being willing to see around them sometimes. p 403 of ARC
Things I Didn't Like from MNIM:
Mostly stuff I already mentioned, like Daniel.  Also, it had a touch too much mature romantic garbage for me.  While I liked the philosophical feel, it needed a little more plot and action early on.  It kind of dragged until we got near the end.

Things I Didn't Like from TEO:
Haven waffled like a breakfast food.  While the ending was fast-paced and exciting with some twists and turns I didn't see (and some I did), I got really tired of her changing her mind over and over.  Get a spine, girl!  Also, more mature romantic garbage - seriously, what do you know about this guy?  And you're just going to sleep with him? 

Read-alikes (for both):
Reminded me of The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

Fallen by Lauren Kate

s-factor: !@#$
plenty, much of it strong

mrg-factor: XXX
plenty of this too, though most wasn't graphic

v-factor: ->->
some fairly violent things, nothing described in great detail

Overall rating: **** 


s-factor: !@#  

not overwhelming, but some strong language

mrg-factor: XX
some of this too, though mostly implied and not described

v-factor: ->
a little bit

also drug use and alcohol consumption were common

Overall rating: ****

What books would you like to see compared side-by-side?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage


  1. I like this approach to book review - nice compare/contrast!

    I haven't read Ann Brashares yet but hear a lot of great things about the author!

  2. Fun idea. I look forward to other books you find to compare. Can't think of any suggestions for you right now, but I'll be back if I do!

  3. I love your method of reviewing these two books. I have been on the fence about the first one and haven't heard of the second one but now I think I would enjoy both of these!

  4. Booksync, I'm kinda torn on Brashares - I didn't much like her Sisterhood series (though they are fairly entertaining). But, this one was quite well done.

    Suey, I'm kinda drawing a blank for the next one too...

    reviewsbylola, I'll be interested to see what you think of them!

  5. I know what you mean about Daniel in MNIM, he was a bit of a creepy stalker!

  6. Kat, glad I'm not the only one who thinks so :)

  7. Just finished MNIM, I really enjyo Ann Brashares writing (the more philosophical parts especially). I liked the concept of the book, but it definitely left me wishing the modern day plot was balanced properly. So few pages in the interesting parts, and so many pages in the dragged out parts.

    Anyone want to bet on this becoming a motion picture soon?

  8. SMG, I bet it would make a fascinating movie! Yeah, I wish there was more plot in places too.


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