Book Review: Reclaimed by Madeleine Roux

ReclaimedTitle: Reclaimed
Author: Madeleine Roux
Publisher: Ace
Publication date: August 17, 2021
Genre: Science Fiction, Thriller
One Sentence Summary: Senna, Han, and Zurri join an experimental program on an isolated moon to erase painful memories, but things stop adding up, and there’s no way out.

Overall

Reclaimed tells a fascinating story of how our memories impact us and what might happen if they suddenly become hazy and vanish. Described as a claustrophobic science fiction thriller, I felt it delivered on every front. The world was fascinating and definitely sci-fi and it, and the story made me claustrophobic. There were so many weird things going on in the dome on Ganymede that I couldn’t shake the creepy feeling and the twists and turns had me madly flipping the pages. Despite a slow start to the story, it was a quick read, though I did love the characters enough that I couldn’t read fast enough to find out what happened to them.

Extended Thoughts

Senna is the sole survivor of a deadly crash on Mars. But, more than that, she’s the sole survivor of the cult that hijacked the spaceship that was used to crash into Mars. Once, she lived completely off the grid, with no implant and no VIT device that literally keeps track of one’s life and offers endless entertainment. Now she’s infamous, and desperate to get rid of the trauma and horrendous memories.

Han is a fourteen-year-old boy with a high IQ who worships reclusive genius and billionaire Paxton Dunn. Ever since his mom tragically died, he’s been desperate to forget the last message she ever left for him. And Paxton Dunn might have just the thing to help him.

Zurri is a successful model everyone knows, though that doesn’t mean she’s immune to trauma. On her rise to fame, she neglected to form certain boundaries, boundaries that will come back to haunt her in a most horrific and public display.

Targeted by Paxton as potential test subjects who can benefit from his unique invention, he invites them for tests before finally inviting them to the distant and dangerous moon Ganymede, where they will live in close quarters with just a handful of other people. There, they will undergo a procedure to remove the traumatic memories, but, no matter how desperate Senna, Han, and Zurri are, they can’t shake the feeling something is very off.

Reclaimed starts off slowly, with most of the first half being not much beyond set up and getting the characters into one place. But, once they’re all in the dome on Ganymede, the claustrophobic part of the book description comes into play right away. From there, the story spins away wildly. The distrust was almost palpable to me. Right away, I started to get suspicious, but part of my mind was afraid to speculate. Still, I found some threads kind of frayed and others kind of forgotten. At the end, I felt only one character really got any closure, leaving me wondering about the others and how the experience really impacted them.

The characters were the big standouts for me. Even though how the reader is supposed to perceive them is set up right away, I still found them fascinating. Senna, Han, Zurri, and Paxton were so different from each other and had some interesting connections to each other that I felt drawn into their web. I loved the diversity from the mousy blond girl to the black supermodel to the Asian teenager who all held a piece of the puzzle and formed a close trio no matter how Paxton tried to change them, though I wish there had been more focus on the impact of the truth of how some of them were connected. It was fascinating, though, to see how they seemed kind of jerked around as they underwent their treatments to remove unwanted memories. I liked how they retained the core of their characters despite all the things being done to their brains, but I do think the edges could have been softened a little so it didn’t feel like it stuck out so much.

Reclaimed tells an interesting story of three people desperate to have certain memories removed, until they are and suddenly something feels like it’s missing. I loved the strange push and pull of them wanting to remove memories and freaking out about the empty spaces. It seems to want to shine a light on how our memories make us who we are and how, no matter what, we’ll still want to hold on to them no matter how painful. I’m fascinated by memories and how our past experiences shape us, so I really enjoyed how the story played out, despite feeling there were maybe a few too many loose ends.

The one thing that really disappointed me, though, was how the memory removal science-y, tech-y stuff worked and what powered it. I am not a science-inclined person, so my forays into science fiction are carefully plotted. I expected some explanation I could barely follow, but ended up disappointed with how, well, kind of out there it was. There is some science basis to it, but I haven’t the first idea to how it actually works. The whole mechanism ended up feeling kind of like a cop out to me. A suitable explanation that did add an interesting layer, but overall felt a little too simple. Though I did like the creepy edge to it.

And Reclaimed is creepy without being too creepy. There’s something odd about the dome and the reader is introduced to it right away. The words are carefully put on the page and the characters lead the readers on, hinting without overtly saying. There’s a very eerie feeling, though not enough to keep me awake at night. Just creepy enough for me, I suppose, and I scare easily. I loved how the dome immediately made me feel claustrophobic and isolated. There’s more weirdness the longer the characters stay, but the dome itself was fascinating. It felt both entirely mechanized and somehow also breathing on its own. It definitely takes all needs into account, but I also couldn’t shake a watched feeling.

Despite a slow start, Reclaimed does tell an interesting story that does offer some food for thought for readers. Once the story got going, the pace picked up and I found myself flying through the pages. I wish more of the story had been focused on it, though it was also interesting to get the backstories of Senna, Han, and Zurri. Overall, a fast science fiction thriller with really interesting characters.

Great if you enjoy:

  • thrillers
  • science fiction
  • books about memory
  • small, enclosed settings

How many cups of tea will you need?

4 cups

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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for a review copy. All opinions expressed are my own.

Head over to the Bookshelf to check out my reviews of books from the Big 5 and self-published, indie, and small press books.

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4 thoughts on “Book Review: Reclaimed by Madeleine Roux

    1. Thank you! I’m not a big fan of things only getting started in the second half, either, but I really did like the characters and there were some mysterious about them that kept me reading.

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