Title: (Don't You) Forget About Me
Author: Kate Karyus Quinn
Publisher: HarperTeen (HarperCollins)
Acquired Via: Around the World ARC Tours
Release Date: June 10, 2014
Welcome to Gardnerville.
A place where no one gets sick. And almost no one ever dies.
There’s a price to pay for paradise. Every fourth year, the strange power that fuels the town exacts its payment by infecting teens with deadly urges. In a normal year in Gardnerville, teens might stop talking to their best friends. In a fourth year, they’d kill them.
Four years ago, Skylar’s sister, Piper, was locked away after leading sixteen of her classmates to a watery grave. Since then, Skylar has lived in a numb haze, struggling to forget her past and dull the pain of losing her sister. But the secrets and memories Piper left behind keep taunting Skylar—whispering that the only way to get her sister back is to stop Gardnerville’s murderous cycle once and for all.
(Don't You) Forget About Me is a YA novel by Kate Karyus Quinn that goes heavy on the magical realism and the strange. It has been compared to Stephen King's work - and for good reason - but not for the gory horror that many expect but the exceedingly queer world-building that you may not understand until the very end - if at all. (Don't You) Forget About Me's setting of Gardnerville and main character, Skylar, will capture your interest but leave you scratching your head until the last chapters.
The world of (Don't You) Forget About Me is not for the faint of heart. You have to go in expecting that you will be entering a town that has completely different rules than our own reality, and you won't have a reliable narrator to share the facts with you. Skylar (a.k.a. "Sky") has kept herself doped up on forget-me-nots, a sort of herbal medication created by teenagers in the high school's lab, because she doesn't want to deal with the loss of Piper from her life. We learn about Gardnerville, Sky, and her relationship with Piper through a series of flashbacks that come every other chapter. There are no truly coherent present-day Sky chapters until maybe the last quarter of the novel.
Personally, I haven't decided whether or not I liked either Sky or Piper. Sky stayed way too strung out at the beginning of the book, and I get that was her way of dealing with the loss of her sister and the circumstances surrounding it. Piper is introduced through the flashbacks, and she was a very domineering older sibling. She called all the shots and herded Sky through her early years. Yes, that was probably why Sky was so lost without Piper, but still. I also have to give a special side-eye to Sky's mom and great-grandmother for not stepping in with her being incoherent from the drugs for FOUR FREAKIN' YEARS.
(Don't You) Forget About Me is also a bit of a mystery when Sky surfaces from her drug-induced hazes and tries to figure out the fate of Piper. It is hard to tell whether or not Piper was killed along with her classmates and Skylar can't let go, or if there is something stranger going on in Gardnerville. You also get to figure out Foote, Elton, and all the other weird supporting characters. (GG is the best, by the way.)
The only thing really bad I have to say about (Don't You) Forget About Me is how it wrapped up at the end. I mean, I love some weird (I did intentionally give birth to my daughter on Stephen King's birthday, after all), but the weird really needs to have some tight explanations and a tight ending. Now, I know I don't get to pick the endings of books, but there was one twist of the book (ask me about it on Twitter if you want to know which one) that really just left me scratching my head. All I could think was, "why that?"
Despite my feelings about the twists at the end and the somewhat vague ending, (Don't You) Forget About Me was an enjoyable book that I think would be a good stepping stone for readers getting ready to delve into horror. Quinn is also an author who impressed me quite a bit with her writing style, and I'll be reading Another Little Piece this summer when my reading schedule allows for it.
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To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received an advance copy of the book briefly for reviewing purposes through Around the World ARC Tours in exchange for an honest review. The book was likely provided to the tour by the publisher or author, which has in no way affected the outcome of my review. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own.