Review: The Meme Plague by Angie Smibert


The Meme PlagueTitle: The Meme Plague

Author: Angie Smibert

Genre: Dystopian, YA, LGBT

Publication Date: August 13, 2013

Source: eARC from the publisher via NetGalley

Synopsis: It begins with the name JONAS W. on the side of a cardboard coffin—right before the funeral procession blows up. Then it’s the whisper in the back of Micah’s head: Your father betrayed his country. You can’t always trust your own brain. Not when you have one of the mayor’s mandatory chips in your skull. Micah knows that the chip developed by TFC (the corporation that runs the Therapeutic Forgetting Clinics) does more than just erase unpleasant memories—it implants new ones. The MemeCast warns citizens to “fight the hack.”

Micah and his friends have each lost something—a parent, a relationship, a home, maybe even their own identities as they remembered them to be. But together, they can make sure some things are never forgotten.

Election Day is coming, and Mayor Mignon is set to be elected to Congress. It’s time to build a new electronic frontier, one that’s not controlled by the mayor and his cronies. It’s time to get out the vote and shake up the system. It’s time to finally say enough.

2/5 stars – It’s got the setting of a true dystopian but is lacking in most other areas

It’s entirely possible I’ve used this joke before and forgot, but despite being centered on memory and the government’s control of it, this is a very forgettable series. It’s got the setting and societal critiques down and paints a vivid picture of what may be only of the only realistic dystopias in YA, but it’s so weak in terms of characters and plotting that this almost gets erased. Despite the short length, The Meme Plague is a difficult book to get through.

Smibert writes a thorough critique of how dependent we are on technology and it’s not entirely unbelievable that people would want certain memories removed–or that others would take advantage of that to keep making money. YA has a lot of pseudo-dystopians that say nothing about society and lack teeth, but this trilogy isn’t one of them. If there’s a dystopian fan out there that hasn’t tried at least the first book, I am SHOCKED. And will tell them to start this series right now.

Beyond that, there are pop culture references to things from our time that actually work, like to Forrest Gump (Lieutenant Dan!) and the Matrix trilogy of movies. Not gonna lie, I got a little giddy when one tech setup was described as “so 2012” and Jacksonville, Florida got a mention. Mentions of my city do that to me.

The narration is part of where the problem begins. We’ve got five narrators sharing this story and they all start to blend together after a while. Velvet’s sections and every ridiculous piece of advice she spouts from her Book of Velvet (her rulebook for life) makes me want to shake her until she stops talking for the rest of forever. Also annoying is Nora and her endless use of the word “glossy” to describe things. Trendy saying of the near-future or not, it’s annoying. Micah’s story and its resolution are great, but they’re not strong enough to outweigh his more annoying co-narrators.

Combine all this with a poorly written open ending for this trilogy and you have a wholly unsatisfying book. To keep it vague, the government is only going to pass the office on to the next, likely corporate-sponsored candidate once it realizes the person who got elected to several positions cross several states can’t ever hold office and nothing at all will change. Gah! I might read more from Smibert if she publishes more, but here’s hoping it will be stronger all-around.

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