On New Year's Eve, Jess's life is unrecognizable: her best friend is in the hospital, her boyfriend is a cheater. A drug-dealing cheater it would seem, after finding a stash of Nostalgex in his bag.
Nostalgex: a drug that stimulates memory. In small doses, a person can remember the order of a deck of cards, or an entire revision guide read the day before an exam. In larger doses it allows the user detailed access to their past, almost like watching a DVD with the ability to pause a moment in time, to focus on previously unnoticed details and to see everything they've ever experienced with fresh eyes. As Leon, the local dealer, says 'it's like life, only better.' What he fails to mention is that most memories are clouded by emotions. Even the most vivid memories can look very different when visited.
Across town Sam Cooper is in trouble. Again. This time, gagged and bound in the boot of a car. Getting on the wrong side of a drug dealer is never a good idea, but if he doesn't make enough money to feed and clothe his sister, who will?
On New Year's Day, Jess and Cooper's worlds collide. They must put behind their differences and work together to look into their pasts to uncover a series of events that will lead them to know what really happened on that fateful New Year's Eve. But what they find is that everything they had once believed to be true, turns out to be a lie ...
A special thanks to Hodder Children's Books for this review copy!
Let's get straight to the point shall we? Nostalgex, the memory inducing, party drug, is not the center of this story. It's in the story but the idea that it's the key to the story is not particularly true--not completely.
Do characters take the drugs and relive memories clouded by emotions? Sure. Do some of the characters get caught up in trouble because of the drug? Absolutely. But the story in my opinion is a little deeper than that.
Let's start with the plot. It's pretty straightforward. It's pretty much what the blurb says. Sam/Cooper is in trouble with a local drug dealer. Jess' world is tossed up by a cheating boyfriend who turns out to be a drug dealer. The one issue I had with the plot was although it progressed at the right pace, it just wasn't the thriller I thought it would be.
I thought I would be flipping through the pages like a mad woman, but no such thing happened. I was entertained but I wasn't thrilled. By the end I was surprised but it didn't change my rating for the book.
The characters have interesting back stories, but again I felt no connection to them aside from Cooper. The rest of them seemed pretty silly in comparison. I liked Jess but some of the ways she reacted to situations bothered me a bit. Jag, and Amy were good sidekicks but again, nothing. No investment in these characters.
What the book did have going for it was the diversity. The main girl Jess, is African American. At least that's the impression I get--with the mention of dark skin. That part made me rejoice. Finally.
What it also had going for it was the element of surprise by the end. I didn't expect the "villain" to be whom it was, so that was a treat.
I should mention that the book tends to jump around a bit in POV but unlike some other readers, it didn't confuse me. It just made reading it a little cumbersome--having to jump from one character's mind to the next.
I have to say in conclusion, the book is good. It's not amazing. It's not bad. It is what it is.
Btw, if you're looking for romance. I wouldn't really bother. There's a suggestion of it but it's definitely not a focus in this book. It's pretty much not there.
Would I recommend this book? Maybe. I just wouldn't kill myself to go buy a copy of it or anything.