Tell Me an Ending
by Jo Harkin
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Pub Date 01 Mar 2022 | Archive Date 01 Mar 2022
“Intriguing, frightening, witty, and humane.” —The Wall Street Journal
Black Mirror meets Severence in this thrilling speculative novel about a tech company that deletes unwanted memories, the consequences for those forced to deal with what they tried to forget, and the doctor who seeks to protect her patients from further harm.
What if you didn’t have to live with your worst memories?
Across the world, thousands of people are shocked by a notification that they once chose to have a memory removed. Now they are being given an opportunity to get that memory back. Four individuals are filled with new doubts, grappling with the unexpected question of whether to remember unknown events, or to leave them buried forever.
Finn, an Irish architect living in the Arizona desert, begins to suspect his charming wife of having an affair. Mei, a troubled grad school dropout in Kuala Lumpur, wonders why she remembers a city she has never visited. William, a former police inspector in England, struggles with PTSD, the breakdown of his marriage, and his own secret family history. Oscar, a handsome young man with almost no memories at all, travels the world in a constant state of fear.
Into these characters’ lives comes Noor, a psychologist working at the Nepenthe memory removal clinic in London. The process of reinstating patients’ memories begins to shake the moral foundations of her world. As she delves deeper into how the program works, she will have to risk everything to uncover the cost of this miraculous technology.
A provocative exploration of secrets, grief, and identity—of the stories we tell ourselves—Tell Me an Ending is “an intellectually and emotionally satisfying thriller” (Booklist).
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 135 members
Tell Me an Ending is a book written from the viewpoints of people who have had a “memory deletion” or the removal of something that happened to them that was traumatic and life-changing, or maybe not. The fictional company called Nepenthe has the ability to take people’s pain away by removing events from memory. The book is an effort at discovery of the topic of what gives us our personalities? Do we need to remember the bad things that happen? Sometimes what is bad to one person may be tolerable to another. What happens when people administering the “antidote” to a bad memory may not have the best intentions?
At first, I was slightly confused by the many characters, but a little into the book, all became clear and it made sense. It is about how we all may have different endings to our stories based on how our characters are formed. Is that a good or bad thing? The point is made by the different stories. The characters reactions and the behavior of people who have the power to change lives are all too human. It is a thought provoking read.
Black Mirror meets Eternal Sunshine of Spotless Mind gives you interesting, complex, thought provoking plot concept!
What if there is a chance to get rid of your entire traumatic memories that give you setbacks, unendurable pain, preventing you to move on: will you accept those memories’ erasing process? Or you keep them by embracing your pain and roughing up to endure more challenges life throws at you!
First of all: some people have higher pain tolerance. The same incidents they get involved may create different effects on each of them because there are so many different perspectives, reactions. As some of the people look at the same event from rational side as the other can look at more emotional side. Nobody is the same! Minds, hearts, souls may perceive things from different angles!
Philosophical side if this book made me intrigued a lot but crowded characters’ back stories were a little confusing to catch!
Eventually I returned back several times and reread some chapters to solve this problem.
Mei, Finn, Oscar,William are the characters who had the deleting procedure and Noor is the psychologist who has been working for Nepenthe the company where the memory erasing procedures have been taking place since 90’s.
I have hard time to connect most of the characters but the triggering subjects they’re dealing with which force them to erase their some main parts of their life stories were well developed. Oscar was the most relatable character and truly my favorite.
Overall: it was a little compelling read with so many POVs and back character stories but the author wrapped up the ending so adroitly which made me give this book extra half star and I rounded up 3.5 stars to 4 sci-fi, pain, life choices, mistakes, resentments stars!
It was truly unique reading journey! But you have to clear my mind to focus on entire stories to enjoy it fully.
Special thanks to NetGalley and Scribner for sharing this digital reviewer copy with me in exchange my honest thoughts.
This isn't the first piece of media to explore the idea of how having memories taken away would affect a person (the book itself even references Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, with one character complaining about how unrealistic the film is), but that doesn't stop it from being an effective one. It centers around a company that boasts its ability to remove specific memories from people's minds, and it tells its story through a lattice of different characters, varying in connection to each other, with different relationships to the company and the technology. When a novel establishes this kind of network of characters, it's sort of signaling from the get-go that their connections with each other are going to deepen (or, if the connection isn't clear yet, it'll occur at some point). It's a pleasing structure, but sometimes superficially so. I think that's something this novel grapples with a bit, but doesn't succumb to completely. The characters are all fairly interesting and well-developed, but it's an inevitable consequence of this structure that the reader wants to know more about somebody, who was left not as well developed in favor of a different story or character.
The science fiction elements are done quite well, with the pseudoscientific rules of how everything works seeming logical and consistent. I don't think it's necessarily the responsibility of a science fiction novel to explain these things, but when it does, it's nice for it to make some sort of sense. I like the narrative style, as well, and the way thoughts are presented. It's interesting for memories to be presented in a way almost identical to the present, except often without quotation marks for dialogue. It gives the impression of the memory being experienced then and there, rather than the narrator unearthing it for the purpose of the story.
An intriguing, emotional, and thematically dense novel.
How do you cope when you have experienced a terrible incident that consumes your life?
In this book’s title I see a plea for closure from someone stuck, not in control, and perhaps disconnected. And this book does contain the stories of people who are stuck, not in control, disconnected, and dealing (or not dealing) with life-consuming problems in their lives and how a professionally administered drug can block bad memories. I remember being astounded reading news about propranolol being a panacea for those with PTSD, so I am definitely interested in this novel.
The narrative unwinds in linear fashion, giving a quick, and sorry to say, unflatteringly transparent peek into the life of several different characters: A callous scientist, an insecure college girl, a police officer with PTSD, a jealous husband, and a young man with no memory at all—who has been reduced to terror and paranoia. This book is about these people whose lives seem on hold, uncomfortable in their own skin, unable to fit comfortably with others, trapped in situations with no way out. Seeing all of the unique situations reminded me of a quote from Tolstoy: "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."
Then we get a second peek into each of their lives. These interrupted, completely different, stories make it frustrating to get to know them fully, and it shows how frustrating it is to not have the whole story.
I have to admit at the beginning I was annoyed, not emotionally engaged, and thought about quitting the book about a bunch of whiners. It was only the still-tenuous trust in the author that kept me going. I recognized the author’s characters are required as is, and placed my trust in her hands.
By the third peek into their lives, it creates suspense as our empathy for the characters grows. These fragmented peeks serve as interruptions—a suspension—until the narrative circles back around again. This is effective storytelling, the frustrating not to get the whole story mirrors how characters feel when they can’t remember the whole story. As interest grows a sense if tragedy grows.
The delivery is interesting. Sometimes conversations are set off in quotation marks, sometimes italics, and sometimes they are written in stream of conscious paragraphs. Mostly it serves to speed the story, create empathy for the characters and add pressure, but other times it creates a jarring break from the narrative when you happen to notice inconsistencies in style of dialogue, and it is possible to just put the book down, not feeling highly involved or connected. At the halfway point, the stories tension ratchets up.
It’s hard to like the characters, but it becomes easy to empathize with them and their pain. To sincerely hope their personal development leads to a happy ending.
As they work through observations that nothing is ever black and white, but shades of grey. To hear their friends and family complaining about them being sad.
There is an interesting legitimate plot I haven’t mentioned; they all have had a bad memory wiped. But this novel is more than just “this happened, that happened, and then…” There are sequences—and consequences. If you are interested in anything pertaining to people and memory, this book is for you.
This book opens the conversation about what is a fulfilling life. It highlights the frailty of the human condition, the importance of connecting with other people, getting to really know them, and asking philosophical questions.
The novel brings up the following issues: Does removing bad memories improve your life? Are you still a whole person when some of your experiences have been erased? What is a fulfilling life? Is it possible to categorize memories as unambiguously good or bad? Is it possible to have friends if you don’t show your undesirable vulnerabilities? Authenticity. What are the moral implications of not knowing your “bad” past actions? What are the ethical considerations of the doctors who perform memory wipes? What are the unintended consequences? If you have wiped your memory, can you ever feel comfortable and feel that you know yourself? Is it even possible to come up with a black and white answers to these questions, and maybe that’s ok to not have a definitive answer or have everything wrapped up nicely?
So dear reader, tell me an ending. Or perhaps, ask me a question instead and we can grow from there.
Unbiased review of a free ARC from NetGalley.
If you could delete a traumatic memory, would you do it? What if you found out you'd already had a memory delete. Would you want it back?
Tell Me An Ending is a story about an alternate present that centers on a group of characters who have undergone memory deletions. A company called Nepenthe preforms procedures to erase memories of both "self-informed" knowing patients, and those who have decided to erase the memory of the procedure as well. After a spat of legal trouble, Nepenthe agrees to offer their past patients a chance to get their deleted memories back. Throughout the story, Tell Me an Ending introduces its readers to a slew of different characters: some considering memory deletion; some who are informed that they already had memories deleted; and some who work for the memory clinic itself. All of them must figure out if their own decisions, past and present, are the right ones. The book tackles trauma, morality, and the idea of the self.
What an intriguing concept for a novel! The book dives into each character's personal struggle as they decide whether regaining a memory that's been deleted is the best choice, and how that decision affects not only the patient but those around them. I enjoyed that sometimes we as readers were better informed on the full picture than the characters in the novel, yet somehow, there was still enough mystery and withheld information that the story didn't feel predictable. There was just enough science fiction to allow for some world-building and creative license, but it was centered so well in reality that it's easy to believe something like this could happen in our lifetime. This is a really strong read for contemporary and sci-fi readers alike.
TELL ME AN ENDING is a haunting, thought-provoking novel about memory, technology, loss, and love. I found Jo Harkin’s novel to be incredibly enjoyable- I was hooked within the first few pages- and loved following the set of characters as their paths intertwined, as they reckoned with complex decisions, questions from their pasts, unknowns about their futures
Harkin’s writing was sharp and lovely, her characters genuine and compelling; she deftly weaves together the various characters in surprising, interesting ways. I will think about this story and its characters for a long time- a great read and one of my favorites in 2021..
This book would be great for fans of Black Mirror or sci-fi in general. I’d also recommend it for anyone looking for a story told from multiple perspectives that is engrossing and emotional. I hope Harkin writes many more novels- I will be first in line to read them!
I kindly received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
Wow, what a book! Hard to rate, as I don’t want to give anything away! Not at all what I expected, but found myself glued to the pages! Maybe because it hits home or more likely because of the provocative writing and perfection in character development! Not my normal genre, but so glad I gave it a go! Highly, highly recommend!
A very inventive, provocative story. I found it a bit confusing at first to keep the various characters straight, but it was less difficult to do so as the story went on. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Picture a near future when you are able to delete memories. The process is controversial and mistakes may have been made with the early adapters. What if you had a horrible event that caused pain and suffering that could not be overcome. What if your child suffered PTSD from something they had seen. Would you consider memory deletion.
Tell Me an Ending is a novel written from the viewpoints of four different people - some of whom have had a “memory deletion,” some who do not know if they did have a deletion and one who works for the controversial company Nepenthe.
The theme of the book is quite interesting - on the face of it is would you rid yourself of a traumatic memory. Deeper is the question of what makes you YOU (are you YOU without the trauma you encountered?) The characters are engaging and there is a suspense to uncovering what memories were deleted and why. This book reads like a thriller, is plotted like a scifi novel and is written like literature.
The writing, the story and the characters are amazing and unique. If you like scifi, literature or would like to consider what part of your personality is made up of your memories, this is the book for you! #Scribner #TellMeAnEnding #NetGalley
This was really something.
If Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind made you wonder how one would have their memories erased, and the effects that would have on their mental health and wellbeing, this book is for you. I adored it. I couldn't put it down. And despite reading it in mid-December, it may have snuck its way into my top 5 for the year.
Tell Me an Ending follows multiple points of view, from a flawed but deeply likeable psychologist who works at Nepenthe, a clinic that performs memory erasures, to characters who have had those erasures. While I tend not to like multiple-POVs, each person in this novel had a distinct voice and I adored everyone represented, flaws and all.
Though the build-up is a bit slow, the novel wraps up nicely and answers the most important questions. My only regret is that this book comes out in 2022 and I can't buy copies for everyone for Christmas this year.
Thank you to NetGalley and Scribner for this advance e-copy!
'Tell Me an Ending' explores how society is changed when a company called Nepenthe commercializes the ability to erase memories. The chapters alternate between multiple characters’ experiences with the futuristic bio-tech company, similar to John Marrs’ 'The One'. The author acknowledges the conceptual similarities to 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind', yet 'Tell Me an Ending' takes the premise in a unique and fascinating direction. Although I felt many of the answers to mysteries were revealed prematurely, I thoroughly enjoyed this title and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys dystopian novels. Some storylines are darker than others, but this book ultimately left me with a sense of hope.
Thank you to NetGalley for providing me an ARC.
This book was fabulous. Reminded me of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Definitely recommend, as it ended up being one of my favorite books of December.
I was lucky enough to procure an advance digital copy of TELL ME AN ENDING by Jo Harkin through a Shelf Awareness giveaway/from the publisher. Thanks for the early look, and have a safe and happy holiday season!
I went into Tell Me an Ending not really sure what to expect. There were times in the beginning when I struggled to stay with the different stories, the different characters. Each one was done so well, so differently, and eventually they all hooked me in. Especially Noor, in the middle of all of it.
The book raises interesting questions about memories, the nature of them, what their loss can take from you in other ways and what regaining them can do to you. I'm no brain expert and the science scanned well for me, and I liked the explanation of how they keep from accidentally taking the wrong ones. It made me think, a lot, about, "What would I want to lose?" Ultimately, though, it's nothing. I wouldn't part with any of mine, even and especially the painful ones.
I was granted an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. I would recommend this one. It opened doors to thoughts I wouldn't have otherwise had, is quite well written, and the characters are engaging.
“Be careful what you wish for…” is an apt description of this book. It really gets you thinking about what makes a person ‘whole’. Kudos to the author making the reader think. The book bogged down a bit in the midddle, but once all the threads came together it was worth it. Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the ARC.
Tell me an Ending often hits very close to home. What is a memory? What about your memory makes you who you are? Is forgetting better, or should we willfully discuss past painful events? A worthwhile read for speculative fiction fans.
This book makes you think of Eternal Sunshine for the Spotless Mind (Wonderful movie).Multiple characters from different points of view who have all been contacted in some form that they or a loved one had a memory erased and would they like to continue not to remember or have the memory put back. This all comes after clients begin to have “traces” that relate to the forgotten memory, like ptsd or deja vu. So now they find themselves asking do I want a memory that was so terrible I had it erased or can I live with not knowing….I guess the only question is what would you do? Wonderful book.
Would you delete a memory if you could? If there was a way to get it back would you want too? This story is narrated by several different people who are affected by a memory deletion company, patients, employees, etc. It was a good read. It wasn't so great that I couldn't put it down. But in the end it made me think about my good and bad memories and what I would do if I had that choice. Personally I'll keep my memories because they make me who I am. The ending was eh.
When I read the description of the book which included an analogy to Black Mirror, I knew I had to read it. This book is told from the POV of five different people- Noor, William, Oscar, Finn, and Mei. We don't know how their stories are interconnected until the end of the book but each has an Interesting and compelling storyline from the start.
The plot focuses on Nepenthe, a chain of clinics that deals in memory deletions or "wipes". It has recently come to the light that some patients of Nepenthe are experiencing "traces" of their deleted memories. Tell Me an Ending is about the ramifications of these deletions and subsequent restorations and how they impact both the Nepenthe clients and the people around them.
From Noor's storyline we see an employee of Nepenthe grapple with the ethics of this memory work.
From the other storylines we see direct consequences of the "wipe" as it relates to relationships, sense of self, and satisfaction with daily life.
As I read, I couldn't help but think "Would I delete a memory if given the chance?" And also what would I do if I received a letter stating that I had a memory deleted and would I like to have it restored?"
I really enjoyed this book and felt that all 5 of the main characters were very compelling. The premise of the book is fascinating and brings up great ethical and philosophical topics for discussion.
I highly recommend this book especially if you are a fan of Black Mirror or Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind or if you enjoy ethical debates.
What if a technology company could give you relief from your deepest regret or the cause of your PTSD by erasing that memory? Would you take them up on that offer regardless of the cost?
At first, I struggled with this story. I don’t know if it was because of the multiple POVs or what seemed like an unreliable narrator in the main character (Noor), but I got confused several times and had to reread certain sections.
I eventually decided that it may have been intentional as a device to keep the reader off balance, possibly to provide a similar experience to that of the clients at the Nepenthe clinic who had their bad memories removed.
My perseverance paid off as by pushing through I was rewarded in the end. For all the confusing and thought provoking multi-threaded story lines and emotional subtexts, it was worth the effort to reach the final pages.
The skillful resolution at the conclusion left me with a positive feeling and pleasant memory of the overall reading experience.
Thank you to Netgalley and Scribner for the free review copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review.
This is a sprawling book with surprisingly interconnected characters. I appreciated the limited-perspective narration (literally limited, due to memory loss!) and thought the characters were compelling. The concept isn't completely original (Eternal Sunshine, of course), but it's provocative, and the characters and settings make this worthy. Though this is speculative/providing an alternate reality, enough of the environment is contemporary, and there's a lot of empathy, to ground the story. I'd feel comfortable recommending this to any lover of long reads and contemporary yet quality fiction.
Wow wow wow. I don't even know where to begin...the story was so much more than I had anticipated. I can understand how people might give up on it, definitely, but I'm glad I hung with it through my initial confusion. I am still thinking about this one days later and I know a handful of students and faculty that will want to read this as soon as we get our copies from the vendor.
The premise is clever: an organization exists that can take way an unpleasant memory... for a cost. Is it ethical? Moral? Are the scientists involved saving lives or harming them? Are people better off because the memory of their trauma no longer exists, or would they have been better off facing the past and learning to move forward? This novel tells a story that feels eerily realistic in it's possibilities and will leave me contemplating the questions that arose for a long time. I can't wait for my book club discussion!
This novel was a fast read as I didn't want to put it down. I was drawn into the lives of the characters as they were introduced and was curious to find out more as their stories developed. It was almost frustrating at times to only get a piece of the story from a character, and then have the narration move onto the next one, as I wasn't ready to be done with the character I was reading about. Even though each character wasn't fully developed in the way I would have preferred, I feel that each character's story had its purpose within the novel, raising a variety of moral questions. The alternating narrators of the story, although difficult to follow at first, ultimately added to the book by keeping me on my toes and making me want more.
If you enjoy dystopian, medical thrillers, or medical based science-fiction, you will be enraptured by the intriguing subject of this novel. I give it 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 stars.
Thank you to #NetGalley and #Simon&Schuster #Simon&SchusterBookClubFavoritesFriends for an ARC of #TellMeAnEnding by #JoHarkin in exchange for an honest review.
Tell Me an Ending by Jo Harkin
I was able to get an ARC thanks to NetGalley which I am so happy about because this book has been on every "Anticipated read" list for 2022 I've read and for good reason!!! I hated Eternal Sunshine and the Spotless Mind because it made no sense how you could get rid of a memory of a whole longterm relationship without many issues related to other memories/holes in your thoughts/etc. Well this book takes that idea and flips it on its head with science fiction backing it up; following multiple people's lives that have been affected by the currently available memory deletions in different ways but who are all tied together because of it. It is probably going to be one of the best books I read for the year and I could barely put it down. I will definitely recommend to anyone who asks for a good read this year.
Tell Me an Ending takes an interesting concept that all of us have thought about at some point.....what if we could just forget a horrible event ever happened? I loved the various perspectives and how they all came together to tell the story.
Excellent, thought-provoking debut that explores the concepts of self and memory. The book follows five characters and is centered around a company, Nepenthe, that has learned how to delete specific memories from people's minds. Noor, an emotionally repressed psychologist at Nepenthe, idolizes her boss Louise even as she uncovers evidence that the company is behind some serious wrongdoing. The other four narratives follow people who have had memories erased, and what they will decide to do when offered a chance to get their memories back. Some of the narratives and characters connect in rather small ways, but I thought the book was heading towards a larger connection amongst all the narratives, and was disappointed when that didn't happen. Nevertheless, the writing is superb and the story will make you think hard about what makes a life fulfilling and meaningful. Thank you to NetGalley and Scribner for a review copy.
A thought provoking story which raises many questions. Nepenthe is a clinic that offers a memory deleting procedure. It also ends up offering a procedure to get the memory back. How does memory deletion affect our relationship with others? What is someone mentions the memory you had deleted? So many other questions arise. I just do not know if I would want the procedure.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
"The facts of love are gone- the biographical notes redacted- but the love is still there. There is no sunshine; there is no spotless mind."
As others have mentioned, this book is very Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind and Vanilla Sky-esque, and even references similar media in regards to the discussion of targeted memory loss.
At first, I was decently confused as there are multiple POVs, seemingly unconnected, but as time goes on, you see that they do have one big similarity: Nepenthe.
I do like that this book went further into specifics and the philosophy of memory erasure and the idea of self than most other similar works have. The topics that these movies/books usually make you think about afterwards were discussed from multiple POVs in the book, which I really enjoyed, as it felt like a discussion within the book itself. The specifics of exactly which memories could and couldn't be deleted was also discussed, mentioning that childhood traumas could/should not be erased because of everything that is linked to those memories throughout the rest of your life.
As anyone that has gone through a traumatic time/moment, I have thought about this topic often. Who would we be without the constant shadow of that trauma following us around?
I have often asked myself who I would even be without childhood trauma and the effects it had on me during such an important time in my developmental stage. It brings up the discussion of self, of who we are, what we are: is it our actions that are our selves? Is it a conscious thing or something deep within? Who are we without our traits and would we be the same "self" if those traits did not exist?
I'm getting into a whole discussion with myself, because this book really does make you think and I definitely won't be able to stop thinking about it for a while. Well written, compelling, thought provoking. The mystery kept me reading and there were moments when my jaw dropped open at revelations.
Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an early read of Tell Me An Ending by Jo Harkin.
What if you were offered the chance to erase a memory – would you take it? In the world of Tell Me An Ending by Jo Harkin, this is a possibility. A company called Nepenthe offers a service in which they will erase a single memory for you. Clients can chose to be “self-aware”, meaning they know that they had a memory erased or to be “self-confidential”, meaning they have the memory erased and then have no memory of doing it. Nepenthe has recently come under fire because clients are saying they are seeing traces, as in the memories seem to be slowly coming back. This forces Nepenthe to offer restorations to those that want them. The novel follows five people:
- Finn, whose wife gets the notice that she has had a memory erased as a self-confidential client and she is offered the chance to restore it;
- William, a former police officer who had to quit the force because of a PTSD reaction he had to a crime scene photograph and is planning to have the memory erased
- Mei, who is seeing traces of a city she thinks she has never visited and sets out to try to understand what happened to her there;
- Oscar, a rich and handsome young man, traveling the world with seemingly no memories at all. He is being pursued, but he doesn’t know why, just a vague sensation that a wrong has been done
- And finally, Noor, the psychologist at the Nepenthe memory removal clinic, who begins to suspect that something deeply suspicious is going on with the restorations and that her boss and mentor might be involved.
The book raises big questions: Does memory make us who we are, and how does that change us if we lose those memories? It’s about the need for story, connections and answers. This is a tale of thoughtful suspense – it reminded me of The Midnight Library in the way that it kept me turning the pages, but left me thinking after I finished it. A great read!
Thank you to Netgalley and the Publisher for providing an arc
The novel makes good use of opening up on the everyday aspects of Noor's job. The environment of Nepenthe and the professional procedures Noor applies towards her patients highlights the rather desensitized treatment that Nepenthe provides to its customers.
Nepenthe represents a physical amalgamation of capitalistic greed, consumerism and the use of collective/individual memory as both a weapon and a healer. Funnily enough, while reading, I was reminded a bit of Attack On Titan and the power of the Founding Titan to take away the memories of people in order to keep them inside a metaphoric (and in the case of AOT a physical) cage. Within TMAE, that cage is absolutely metaphorical and differs from person to person. What hinders you from living your life? Is it the missing gaps in your memory that could tell you who you are? Does the lack of memory contribute to keeping you locked in a narrative that you had no consent in participating in?
As the novel progresses and we are introduced to more characters of varying backgrounds, we grapple with the sense of self and the turmoil that comes with self identity. Early on, the story introduces the concept of "sameness" or, more diligently said, the idea that without certain memories, we are no longer the same person we were when those memories were ingrained within us.
I think this concept is well highlighted through existentialism, but Harkin makes a point of using interpersonal connections in order to push the narrative differences between being "the same person" and being "different".
Grammatically speaking, I had a few personal qualms with how Harkin uses dialogue to differentiate between past events and present events. Often there was a lack of distinction between the two, which although not difficult to figure out, can be annoying. Personally, it took me out of the story several times. That being said, this may just be a formatting issue because I am reviewing a digital eARC. In which case, I don't see that problem persisting in a physical copy or officially published digital copy. Even so, this is something to consider while reading.
All in all, I think TMAE is a very interesting take on memory as self-identity and does so by mirroring our reality as any good speculative fiction should.
Tell Me An Ending is pitched as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind meets Black Mirror. This dystopian story follows five seemingly unrelated characters who have had painful memories erased, and the consequences for doing so. Some characters connected more than others, but overall it was an interesting story.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.
"The problem with thinking about forgetting things is that it always makes you think about the things you want to forget."
Nepenthe is in the business of memory removal (they don't call them wipes). Clients may be self-informed - she knows she witnessed an accident, but doesn't actually remember the event - or self-confidential - not even the knowledge that they had a memory removed. Some people have been against it since the beginning, of course, but the number of protestors outside the clinics has increased in the past year, since the scientists found that memories can be recovered. The result of the following lawsuit is that all the self-confidential patients must be contacted and given the option to have their memory restored.
Noor has been a psychologist at Nepenthe for 10 years now. She's straightlaced - aside from that relationship with a client. She had been working up the courage to ask her boss Louise to okay a slightly dodgy memory wipe for her, but then some slightly dodgy things started to pile up with Louise herself. Noor spotted something with the phrase "RASA" on Louise's phone, but Louise denied any knowledge of...whatever that means. And Louise has been having Noor approve her to look at some patient files, ostensibly because their contact information has changed, and they have to be contacted as self-confidential clients. But on further inspection, Noor discovered, these folks WERE successfully contacted - and they all said they wanted a memory restoration, until Louise got in touch with them and they all changed their minds.
And then there's Mei, who left university a year ago and recently started experiencing traces - she must have had a memory removed, and now snippets have returned. A view of some houses along a canal, a man's voice she doesn't recognize. Contact with her old friends leads her to believe answers lie in Amsterdam, so she leaves her dad's in Kuala Lumpur to chase her memory. And Finn and his wife Mirande, who discovers she had a memory removed when she receives the notification from Nepenthe. Regardless of the controversy over traces and memory restorations, William feels like it may be the only way to restore his former life and relationship with his wife after he finds himself struck with PTSD due to seeing a photo of a crime scene - highly unexpected given his position as chief inspector. And finally Oscar. He has no idea what's going on, just in general. He's currently living in Morocco, but knows very little about himself - no memories before the age of 16, and then only spotty bits for years. Some of the memories don't give him much confidence in his past self - a gun, a white room, men he doesn't know in suits. He does have a lot of money in his bank account to fund his travels - helpful as he goes on the run anytime someone seems to recognize him - but he has no idea where that money came from.
Like any memory wipe/restoration story (Bourne Identity, Eternal Sunshine...), there are elements and differing opinions on how your memories make you who you are and what can be changed by altering them. Sometimes books with different points of view can result in a mush of voices, but I found the characters distinct here. I thought the way characters and relationships melded was interesting. Oscar's sections were my favorites to read - it's of course exciting to read the story of the man on the run who doesn't know why, and he's also good hearted.
Thank you to Scribner and NetGalley for the eARC. Tell Me An Ending will be published March 1st, 2022.
Have bad memories that you wish you could have erased from your brain? We all have them, but in this sci-fi tale, people have the ability to go to a tech company and have them erased.
I have always been intrigued by this possibility. Several movies have tackled the concept. In this book, you read about specific people and the bad memories in which they want to shed. It almost reads like a compilation of short stories.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and the sci-fi concept.
Tell Me An Ending was provided as an advanced reader copy by #scribner in exchange for an honest review. It has a pub date of March 1. This book made me think “what if” – as a human, and as a therapist who focuses on trauma treatment. Tell Me An Ending was a slow burn, so if you expect a fast pace, this may not be what you are looking for, but it absolutely is a provocative storyline. The characters manage to be both likable and sometimes not, which goes a long way toward them being relatedly human. Jo Harkin does an excellent job of writing the thoughts and feelings of the characters in a way that feels natural to read. Although a slow burn and a slow-at-times read, this is a story that will stay with me and always have me wondering, “What if?”. #NetGalley #TellMeAnEnding #JennReviews
Strong 5 ⭐️
This book was so strong omg. The sci fi in this book the concept in this book was amazing. This was definitely a page turner it had so many twists and turns and always kept me wanting to know more about the memories and stories of the people in the book. Im still blown away at the concept of this book. Also the cover is so cool. I requested this book on netgalley and im so happy i got this ARC because this is a novel every sci fi fan should read. All the people in this book have such strong leads and every chapter was entertaining. I just didnt know what was going to happen next. It basically follows a clinic and people who go there to get memories , trauma etc erased etc and stuff.. But then a worker at the clinic starts questioning a woman at the clinic and stuff i just dont want to say alot because of spoilers. READ THIS BOOK! Strong 5 ⭐️i loved it. The details of the clinic were so cool as well. I will say at times sometimes i didnt know what was flashback what wasnt but as i kept reading i started to kind of know which was which.. But overall great book.
"Tell Me an Ending" is an intimate look into memory deletion and the ripple effect it creates in the lives of people who choose to forget. The book follows five people who each have a different relationship with Nepenthe, the company who developed the technology to selectively erase memories. While the speculative science fiction aspect of this technology is a constant thread throughout the plot, it takes a backseat to the powerful discussion around the benefits and costs of forgetting and how the lives of their family and friends are irrevocably changed.
“In the end, I felt like even though it was a painful memory, I wanted to hold on to it anyways…Because then you might just be able to let it go, naturally…And then…it’s really gone.”
Title: Tell Me An Ending
Author: Jo Harkin
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Many thanks to NetGalley and Scribner for this eARC in exchange for an honest review. #TELLMEANENDING releases TUESDAY MARCH 1, 2022!
I really enjoyed this debut novel from Jo Harkin! This story is a sci-fi mystery that emphasizes how technology affects human lives.
This is a character-driven story with five characters of focus - a doctor at the main memory removal clinic, a young college dropout, an ex-cop, a man constantly on the run, and the husband of a woman who can’t recall deleting a memory. Their stories are all very intriguing, related, and keep you on your toes.
The main theme of this story is coming to terms with painful events. There are a number of ways people grapple with trauma: some act as though it never happened, and some face it head on to learn and grow from the experience. But there’s also a “gray area” that is central to TELL ME AN ENDING’s story. Sometimes pain finds it’s way into other important aspects of our lives…
My only qualms are:
1. At the beginning there were too many characters to keep up with. I think if we had our doctor and three patients that would’ve been sufficient.
2. Harkin’s writing style is interesting. We switch from characters’ internal monologues to real-time conversations, but sometimes I couldn’t discern the two.
As a whole, I give this 4.5 stars. I usually don’t like books longer than 350 pages as I often find they can be edited down. However, the added context is definitely needed for this character heavy story. I would love to see what other sci-fi novels Harkin has up her sleeve and will definitely keep an eye out for any of her future releases.
Ohh boy did Tell Me an Ending feel like something that could actually happen! A for-profit company messing with people's minds and then having to backtrack, further messing up people's minds when the government throws their nonsense into the ring? Oh yes. I can see this!
I really found this book incredibly emotive and thought provoking. This is certainly a character driven story, though the plot is certainly not lacking either. The concept of erasing, then potentially recovering memories is endlessly fascinating to me, and I can never help but ponder it on a personal level, which I certainly did here. There are multiple points of view, but you will soon see that all of these people have had some connection to the memory removal process.
I loved getting to take a journey into the pasts of each of the characters. Of course, in some cases, even the characters themselves had no idea what sort of secrets were lurking in their pasts, which ups the tension. I really became quite invested in all the characters, even if the pacing was at times slower. I was invested in their current lives as well as their hidden pasts, and what the outcome of their decisions would mean for them going forward.
I don't want to give too much away, since this one is certainly the kind of story you ought to experience for yourself. But suffice it to say, the characters were well developed, and the plot imaginative enough to keep me excited to keep reading.
Bottom Line: The characters were engaging, the story thought-provoking, and while it was a slower, quieter story, I absolutely enjoyed it.
This debut science fiction thriller is complex and completely absorbing.
If our personality and state of mind is dependent on our memories, experiences, and relationships then what happens if part of those is erased? A clinic offers a service to particular clients interested in deleting traumatic recent memories. Napenthe supposedly does careful psychological evaluation of potential patients before performing the procedure. All does not go well, however, and some of those who had undergone the memory removal experience trace recall. When a class action lawsuit is brought against the company due to this side effect, some of those affected are offered memory restoration.
The narrative is polyphonic with a collection of very interesting characters all connected through Nepenthe. All are struggling with the concept of the memory deletion and how it has strained their current lives. Since none of them know exactly what has been removed from their consciousness, they don’t understand their feelings and behavior.
There is quite a lot to absorb in this novel as it touches on moral and philosophical questions about self and how the brain deals with traumatic incidents. How important is memory, which is often not as accurate as we would like to believe, in shaping how we respond to life. Assuming this ability to erase specific, targeted events is possible, then is it a good thing or a bad thing — and why or why not. As one character says, it’s important to ask questions.
I really enjoyed this and it has given me much to ponder. It would make an excellent choice for discussion with a book club interested in going deep. The author writes well and the story drew me in keeping me engrossed for hours. I will definitely look for another title in the future.
Thank you to NetGalley and Scribner for this e-book ARC to read, review, and recommend.
The premise of this debut dystopian novel revolves around a tech company, Nepenthe, who have the ability to remove unwanted memories. The book follows several character stories, each relating to the deletion process in different ways—an employee at Nepenthe, a former patient, a current patient, etc. This story truly makes the reader wonder about how far we would go as humanity to make ourselves more comfortable, as this technology seems entirely possible in our distant future. With wonderful perspective, a unique writing style, and an unsettling topic, I gave this a firm 5 star review. I have yet to stop thinking about the characters, their lives, and the option of deleting a part of our human selves. Jo Harkin has nailed this science fiction piece!
Would you get rid of one of your memories if you could? Completely get rid of it? Decide to excise a part of yourself that until now you thought you had to live with? These are the questions that the POV characters in Tell Me An Ending get the chance to ponder.
In Tell Me An Ending, the world has been taken by storm by the concept of memory removal. A company called Nepenthe has developed a scientific process that can successfully and completely remove any memory that a patient wants to be removed. Or so they thought. Former patients have been reporting flashes of the memories that they thought were gone forever, and it is revealed that the memories could potentially be recovered. We follow four different people as they grapple with the concept of memory removal and retrieval and one Nepenthe psychologist who is starting to believe that all is not what it seems at the company.
At almost 500 pages, this book was LONG. But it surprisingly never felt it. I was thoroughly engrossed in each of the POVs; they all brought something different. My heart hurt for each of them, even Noor the psychologist, who hadn't had a removal but had to deal with the fallout from the revelations. Tell Me An Ending took a concept that we've seen before in movies like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and made it feel completely real, and I found myself pondering whether or not I'd ever get a removal if it became possible.
This literary sci-fi was so genius and complex in the way that it utilized the seemingly separate POVs. Once I started to notice how they intertwined, I was amazed at the plot gymnastics that Harkin pulled off. Overall, this book was thoughtful and utterly heartbreaking in its scope, and the type of debut that I love: one that makes me think about my place in the world and the way I move through it.
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