Friday, 16 March 2018

The Memory Chamber by Holly Cave

The Memory Chamber
By Holly Cave
Published by Quercus (22 February 2018)
I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher.

Publisher's description
True death is a thing of the past. Now you can spend the rest of eternity re-living your happiest memories: that first kiss, falling in love, the birth of your children, enjoyed on loop for ever and ever.
Isobel is a Heaven Architect, and she helps dying people create afterlives from these memories. So when she falls for Jarek, one of her terminal - and married - clients, she knows that while she cannot save him, she can create the most beautiful of heavens, just for him.
But when Jarek's wife is found dead, Isobel uncovers a darker side of the world she works within, and she can trust no one with what she finds...

My verdict
The Memory Chamber is an innovative combination of science, murder-mystery and thriller set in an alternative world that's not that different from our own.

It features an interesting and thought-provoking concept - the creation of an artificial afterlife. Following the extraction of certain cells after death, clients can exist within their selected memories forever, inside a heaven that's been tailor-made just for them. The controversial technology is mainly for those who can afford it and choose to have one, but it isn't just for the wealthy. There's a global war going on, and soldiers are able to plan their own heavens, and contemplate their own deaths, before they head to the frontline.

Heaven Architect Isobel combines her knowledge of science and creativity to create amazing heavens for her clients, discussing their needs in advance. She's dedicated to her job, but breaks her professional and ethical code when she falls for a terminally ill married client, Jarek, who becomes a prime suspect in a murder investigation after his death. If Jarek is guilty of murder, his cells will be destroyed, which means he won't live forever in the heaven Isobel created just for him. So she agrees to explore his memories inside his heaven for clues that will prove he wasn't the killer. But that science is still untested, and soon Isobel no longer knows who she can trust.

I raced through The Memory Chamber. It kept me on the edge of my seat, with twists and turns, suspense and thrills, and some tender moments too. With a background in science writing, Holly Cave has explained the scientific concepts well. It all seemed very believable, as she has also explored the ethical and legal issues involved.

The Memory Chamber is a book that will make you question and think - a perfect book club read. Would you want to exist in your own tailor-made afterlife or would you prefer oblivion? Would you want to be part of someone else's afterlife, even if you know little about them? And which of your own memories would you choose to remember for eternity?

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