Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Tabula Rasa by Kristen Lippert-Martin

The Bourne Identity meets Divergent in this action-packed debut thriller with a Katniss-esque heroine fighting to regain her memories and stay alive, set against a dystopian hospital background.
Sarah starts a crazy battle for her life within the walls of her hospital-turned-prison when a procedure to eliminate her memory goes awry and she starts to remember snatches of her past. Was she an urban terrorist or vigilante? Has the procedure been her salvation or her destruction?
The answers lie trapped within her mind. To access them, she'll need the help of the teen computer hacker who's trying to bring the hospital down for his own reasons, and a pill that's blocked by an army of mercenary soldiers poised to eliminate her for good. If only she knew why . . .
~Goodreads 

Publisher: Egmont USA
Number of Pages: 352
Type: Hardcover 

Reviewed by Ellie, age 17

I have something to confess: I am really into the teen-computer-hacker trope. I have no idea why, being that I have no skills on the computer past the generic Word processor, but I absolutely love teen hackers. However, it wasn’t until recently that I realized that I have never read a book with a teen hacker in it. Thankfully, I righted that wrong when Tabula Rasa by Kristen Lippert-Martin came into my life.

If you look past the oblique and confusing title, the plot itself is pretty straightforward for YA literature: teenaged Sarah is having an operation done on her brain that will take away her memories when chaos suddenly strikes at the secluded mountaintop hospital where her multi-step medical procedure is taking place. Forced to go on the run, Sarah meets an oh-so-attractive teen computer hacker (!) who is just as twisted up in the situation as she is.  Forced to work together in order to survive, Sarah and her new companion must fight to figure out the mystery on the mountaintop and work out how they are going to stay alive under continuous fire.

This book has many, many good traits, a few being: non-stop action, plenty of snark, a female lead that is both a minority and is hardcore, a slightly less hardcore but still fully crush-worthy male beta-lead, some very cool secret science technology, and a captivating plotline. I also have to say “kudos” to Lippert-Martin for writing such great character development for Sarah, who goes from a docile brain patient to, well, I won’t tell you (spoilers!). But rest assured, she is not a pitiable character. I also want to point out that this story has about four characters who actually matter, a total that is far less numerous than usual. However, Lippert-Martin pulls this off with sheer will and somehow makes it work. All in all, I finished this book in about twenty-four hours and did not regret picking it up.

However, all this being said, this book has some serious flaws. Character relationships (excluding the one between Sarah and my favorite computer hacker buddy) are weak at best, and the same can be said for continuity of plots. Either plotlines were knocked off at weird times or left to fizzle and die, with neither approach inspiring awe. Finally, there are some awkward (there is really no other adjective to describe this) story jumps that seem like the story is sped up, not for the readers sake but just for the author to finish a writing day. These flaws may be fixed before the book is sent to print, but they unfortunately undermined the reading experience for me.

So, for the final consensus: if you are looking for a book that will captivate, enamor, and give you a healthy dose of not-terrible YA lit, go for Tabula Rasa. If you are looking for an impressive feat of literature that ranks up there with the classics, you’re better off reading your English teacher’s list of recommended summer reads (which, I’m sure, are fabulous as well).


This book has some violence but should be appropriate for most YA readers.

This book is on shelves August of 2014! 
Buy Hardcover | $16.99

Happy reading! 
Ellie, age 17

1 comment:

  1. I saw the words "serious flaws" O_O And awkward story jumps, and weak relationships... hmm. I have this book for review, so I'm definitely going to read it, but definitely with lower standards. I wasn't super excited about it anyway, so you're not crushing my heart or anything :D Excellent review, Ellie!

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

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