Monochrome, by H.M. Jones
* * * * (4 stars)
Monochrome is a strikingly original tale of a young wife and mother who, overwhelmed with post-partum depression and fears about her marriage, comes close to giving up on life. When she awakens from a panic attack, she finds herself in the strange, dark world of Monochrome (fittingly colored blue), where good memories are the highly-coveted currency. With the help of her guide, Ishmael, she has the chance to find her way back to the life she no longer wants to leave behind – but at what cost?
I love the idea of a world where you have to pay your way by giving up memories. The book takes a close look at the different kinds of memories we have – from nice ones that we could live without to those memories that define who and what we are – and how giving up even the ones that don’t seem significant affects our perceptions of our whole selves. It really made me think about what memories I would give up if I had to – and in Monochrome, only good memories are valid currency, you can keep the bad ones. The thought was chilling.
Ishmael and Abby are both appealing characters. I especially liked Ishmael, the deeply wounded young man who never made it out of Monochrome and instead took a job of trying to help others find their way out. I would like to know more about his past, and his future. I’m also intrigued by how the world of Monochrome came to be, and would love to read more about that and about the menacing Boss, who rules Monochrome.
There’s some action, but this is mostly an introspective book, with long conversations between Ishmael and Abby, two very articulate and self-aware young people. They are both also poetry buffs, and quote a lot of Romantic (as in style, not in lovey-dovey) poetry to each other.
Monochrome is a dark book, but also filled with hope and beauty. Recommended if you’re looking for a fantasy/urban fantasy/paranormal that will make you slow down and think and feel.