Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Memory of Water

Memory of Water by Emmi Itäranta
HarperCollins: 6/10/2014
ebook, 272 pages
ISBN-13: 9780062326157

The award-winning speculative debut novel, now in English for the first time!
In the far north of the Scandinavian Union, now occupied by the power state of New Qian, seventeen-year-old Noria Kaitio studies to become a tea master like her father. It is a position that holds great responsibility and a dangerous secret. Tea masters alone know the location of hidden water sources, including the natural spring that once provided water for her whole village. When Noria's father dies, the secret of the spring reaches the new military commander . . . and the power of the army is vast indeed. But the precious water reserve is not the only forbidden knowledge Noria possesses, and resistance is a fine line.
Threatened with imprisonment, and with her life at stake, Noria must make an excruciating, dangerous choice between knowledge and freedom.
My Thoughts:

Memory of Water by Emmi Itäranta is a highly recommended,  sensitive dystopian novel set in a future where water is scarce and controlled by the military.

Noria Kaitio, 17, is studying with her father to continue the family tradition of tea master. Set in future Finland, now part of the New Qian empire of Asia and Europe, global warming has made many areas of the world uninhabitable. Water shortages are common and what water there is is strictly controlled by the military and rationed out. When Noria learns the secrets of being a tea master, a role traditionally only held by males, and all the teahouse ceremony involves, she also learns a bigger secret: the location of a hidden spring unknown to anyone but her father. 

Major Bolin has been protecting her father but when Commander Taro comes on the scene it becomes clear that he is suspicious and plans to discover their secret and destroy her family. 

Noria also explores the plastic filled landfills of garbage with her friend Sanja, who is able to repair many broken things. They find a disk that mentions yet another secret, a secret Noria also wants to learn. 
This dystopian novel by Finnish author Itäranta is set in one small area of a very change future world. Although some of the large global scale catastrophes are hinted at or mentioned, the setting remains in this one small part of Finland and the story stays focused on the effects the new world has on one person in that small part of the new world.

The writing in Memory of Water can be described as poetic, delicate, atmospheric, and expressive. The juxtaposition of a hard, harsh world being described in beautiful prose can be startling, but the contrast helps set the tone of despair even as the carefully crafted writing flows along so seductively. While there is tension in this novel, it is not overwhelming. It flows along at an even pace, picking up speed slowly.

Although not stated, I'd place this among other YA dystopian fiction selections based on the age of the character and the uncomplicated linear plot. The writing is a step up from most YA selections, however.

Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of
HarperCollins for review purposes.

No comments: