Published by Scripturient Books on October 6th 2014
The future world is at peace.
Ella Shepherd has dedicated her life to using her unique gift—the ability to enter people’s dreams and memories using technology developed by her mother—to help others relive their happy memories.
But not all is at it seems.
Ella starts seeing impossible things—images of her dead father, warnings of who she cannot trust. Her government recruits her to spy on a rebel group, using her ability to experience—and influence—the memories of traitors. But the leader of the rebels claims they used to be in love—even though Ella’s never met him before in her life. Which can only mean one thing…
Someone’s altered her memory.
Ella’s gift is enough to overthrow a corrupt government or crush a growing rebel group. She is the key to stopping a war she didn’t even know was happening. But if someone else has been inside Ella’s head, she cannot trust her own memories, thoughts, or feelings.
So who can she trust?
I was attracted to The Body Electric because altered memories is one of my favorite tropes. One of my longest running (and favorite) WIPs is about a future society with ever increasing mind control and a protagonist with hidden memories. This book was sort of homework for me in a way, because I really wanted to see how the lost memories were handled. It was also my first Beth Revis story, though I know she is pretty well known in the YA world for her Across the Universe series.
There was so much to enjoy in The Body Electric. Right off the bat, we are introduced to a unique setting: a rebuilt Malta. I loved that the book didn’t take place in a dystopic North America, and that Revis put a lot of thought into her universe. The integrated technologies were just that — nothing stood out starkly against the story or felt hokey. Even the disease that Ella’s mother suffered from felt absolutely real and a terrifying result of biohacking! I have to say that the world was the part I enjoyed most about the story — I could absolutely picture everything happening around Ella.
I was a little unsure about the reverie machines at first though. That aspect was a bit confusing to me, in how they really worked and why Ella could go inside another person’s reverie. However, the scenes depicted inside the memories reminded me of Inception in an absolutely fabulous way. I was very impressed by how it was handled, and we could see parts of people’s memories crumbling away as Ella played in their minds. I loved it!
The main drive of this book occurs after Ella meets Jack Tyler, a young man who claims she knew him well that Ella has no memory of. After this point, the story moves super fast, and there’s chase scenes, terrorist attacks and some intense hiding out. It was paced as well as any action movie, and though it felt a little predictable, I still enjoyed the ride.
If I could extend one critique though, it would be the lukewarm romance. Jack Tyler felt like a pretty flat character. I couldn’t really tell you much about him now, other than he’s smart and fills Ella in on a lot of exposition. That’s another risk you run with memory loss stories, and he did feel like the platform to which provide Ella answers. And, I can’t help but be annoyed by his name. Jack Tyler reminds me of Rose Tyler and she’s not on the top of my favorite companions list. ;)
In regards to that, Jack’s name was no accident. I read Revis’s note at the end of the novel, and she pointed out a lot of the Easter eggs in her story. I thought this was pretty cool, and while some of them flew right over my head, it is fun to find them. If you’ve read a lot of classic Sci-Fi, I am confident you’ll pick up on a lot!
Overall, this was a really excellent Sci-Fi YA read! The book was pretty hard to put down, and our main character Ella has a lot of drive and great qualities that make you root for her. There was a certain amount of predictability, but also some surprises that will impress.
Have you read The Body Electric? What about any of Beth Revis’s other books? Who is your favorite companion, now that I’m on the subject? (DONNA)