Tabula Rasa

Tabula Rasa - Kristen Lippert-Martin

(I got a copy through Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review.)

Good idea and interesting beginning, but the second third kind of dragged in my opinion, and the ending was, well, wrapped up in a trope that made me really roll my eyes.

I liked the premise of PTSD victims being given a second chance (whether "true" victims or perpetrators) by having their memory removed—or at least, all the memories pertaining the trauma and/or crime. And in the beginning, nothing is certain as far as Sarah, the narrator, is concerned: was she so psychologically damaged and abused that she couldn't function even with normal treatments? Or was she some hardboiled criminal, considering how despised she was by some of the hospital's personnel? I thought the ambiguity was well-played here, because both reactions were present: nice doctors and nurses making small talk with her, while others would scowl and prevent her from having contact with other patients. Her skills, too, were ambiguous: they could be those of a burglar just as well as those of an acrobat, after all.

However, I found the pacing after that rather problematic, being a blend of action scenes interspersed with slow moments in which info was dumped and nothing really interesting happened. The mandatory YA romance subplot felt boring, too, and as is too often the case didn't bring anything to the story. On the one hand, I get that it was part of Sarah's development and return to her true self, something to make her feel like fighting and not give upt, but... on the other hand, does a person in such a situation really need some love interest to do that? Why did it have to be romance? One that sprang in a couple of days or so, no more. I don't dislike romance plots; however, most of the time, they're not really useful, and are of the marketing ploy kind, "because romance sells", instead of being fully part of the story. Here, that was exactly my impression. Budding love? Sure. Full-blown romance with "I love you" and feelings that the person is/was The One, in less than 72 hours? Doesn't work for me. In this type of setting, survival is key, and professing love just like that was kind of cheesy anyway.

Some of the plot points were fairly predictable, along with conveniently placed flashbacks and special snowflake syndrome (after a while). Add to this a few mind-boggling moments, such as soldiers not even taking someone's pulse to see if that person's indeed dead (huh?). Also, I didn't like the ending—more specifically, the part where the Big Bad nicely explains what the plan was all about. I want explanations, of course, only I prefer them to be shown to me, not unveiled in a gloating villain speech. It's been done too often for it to work, not to mention that the villain's motives were... too basic.

On the bright side, somehow I still managed to like Sarah and Thomas. They had a "no bullshit" streak, in that they planned to get things done and acted on those plans, and didn't mope around while being useless. I'm tired of heroines who don't get anything done themselves, and Sarah was all but that. Which is why I'm leaning towards 1.5/2 stars here.