Welcome to Gardnerville.
A place where no one gets sick. And no one ever dies.
There’s a price to pay for paradise. Every fourth year, the strange power that fuels the town exacts its payment by infecting teens with deadly urges. In a normal year in Gardnerville, teens might stop talking to their best friends. In a fourth year, they’d kill them.
Four years ago, Skylar’s sister, Piper, was locked away after leading sixteen of her classmates to a watery grave. Since then, Skylar has lived in a numb haze, struggling to forget her past and dull the pain of losing her sister. But the secrets and memories Piper left behind keep taunting Skylar—whispering that the only way to get her sister back is to stop Gardnerville’s murderous cycle once and for all.
◆ A copy was provided by Harper Collins for review ◆
(Don't You) Forget About Me is a different kind of read brimming with magical realism. No one knows why some things happen, and it doesn't matter. They just accept it as fact and don't probe too deeply into their fortunes. The magical realism also seeps into the writing of the story. It's dark and somber, filled with many bizarre, inexplicable events. It's the kind of read that will appeal to some readers and make absolutely no sense to others. I can certainly see why some people would love this book. For me, however, the narration was so tangled and confused that the story had fallen flat long before the big reveals happen.
The story alternates between past and present. When Sky narrates the past, she talks in second-person POV to her sister Piper. In the present, the story follows Sky as she unravels the secrets behind Gardnerville and what happened four years ago. Alternating past and present seems to be an attempt to build tension and raise questions as we piece together Sky's memories. However, Sky's memories are so fragmented and come at us in no particular order; on top of that, she's very disoriented in the present and doesn't seem to know what she's doing. She comes across as a confused narrator, which seems to be intentional, but it gives no focus to the storyline and does little to help us really get to know any of the characters.
Sky is the most developed character with much of the story depending on us getting into her mind. To a certain extent, I was able to connect with her if only in our shared desires to find out the truth. The problem is that much of who she is comes about through events that we only learn late in the novel, and for the most part she remains a recovering druggie who took pills to forget the past. This results in a broken narration that's confused and scattered. The same goes for Piper. The other characters fall flat and don't appear much even when they play important roles in Sky's life, which was disappointing as some of them were pretty interesting characters. I would have liked to see the story spend some more time on things that take place outside of Sky's mind.
The plot twist behind Gardnerville was interesting. I almost gave the story another star for it, but all things considered the story fell flat for me. It was pretty exciting to finally unravel the mysteries of the town. However, the reveal takes place so very late in the novel that the story didn't have much time to redeem itself for me. It also didn't have much time to wrap events up, and it felt like there were a lot of loose threads floating around at the end. The ending was so rushed.
Pretty much all this book has going for it is the mystery. Unfortunately, the story spends so much time in Sky's mind reconstructing her thoughts and memories that other areas fall flat. The premise is interesting, however, and I would recommend this story for readers who enjoy novels that take their time building mystery and intrigue to give a big reveal at the end. For readers looking for more character development and action earlier on in the novel, I would skip this read.