Sixteen-year-old Erin Misrahe is diagnosed with schizophrenia and dissociative identity disorder (multiple personalities), and has spent most of her life institutionalized. Sometimes, she blacks out, can’t remember anything, and her violent other personality (referred to in this book as her alter ego), Shevaun, takes over. Now, she’s been symptom-free for eighteen months and she’s trying to become a part of normal society, living at home and transitioning gradually to a public school.
She thinks her life is headed for normalcy–until it gets weirder than ever. She wakes up looking through someone else’s eyes, and it’s all crazy from there. She reconnects with an old friend, finds out a secret about a new one, and discovers that there’s a lot more to the world than what meets the eye. Shevaun isn’t part of Erin; she’s centuries old vampire who exists separately from Erin, but they have a connection no one understands.
Persistence of Memory is yet another unsatisfying peek into Amelia Atwater-Rhodes‘ world. Why unsatistfying? Only for the best reasons–when you’re reading, you can feel that there’s a whole world behind these stories. The characters are people in it, and their roles in the stories that make it to publication are not their lives. I feel like Amelia Atwater-Rhodes knows their whole lives. She knows a lot more about this complete other world than makes it into her books. It’s pretty awesome, especially to know that there are so many other stories just waiting to be written or published! It’s frustrating, too, though, to see glimpses of fascinating places and people, but not to know the whole story. But, as I said, frustrating in a totally awesome way.
In this book, the different parts of this world come together in a way they don’t in the other books. Witches, vampires, shape-shifters–it’s all here. We see glimpses of characters from other books, as always, and I love it. Amelia’s world-building is fascinating. Her storytelling is wonderful and imaginative. Her writing is fluid. Her characters (for the most part) are real people. It’s captivating reading.
However, as much as I love this book (and all the others by this author), I do have some issues with its accuracy, mainly Erin’s mental health diagnosis. I know these aren’t issues that people not taking AP Psychology would have, but they bothered me. Erin, as far as I can tell, doesn’t actually show the signs of schizophrenia, just dissociative identity disorder, so I’m not sure why she was diagnosed with it–especially because she’s under 18. Children can’t be diagnosed with schizophrenia; according to DSM-IV, which is a diagnostic manual of mental illnesses, sufferers must be 18, and Erin was diagnosed as a small child.
My other problem with this book was Shevaun. I didn’t feel like we got to know Shevaun very well, or like her personality, from the glimpses we saw of it, made total sense. For example, it was mentioned that she didn’t kill unthinkingly, and she even felt guilt for some of her killing, but at other times, it seems like she was a cold-blooded, reckless killer. Shevaun didn’t make sense. Perhaps that’s just because of the limited viewpoint that the reader has, and I’m sure she makes sense to the author–but that didn’t translate 100% in the book. Amelia Atwater-Rhodes has said that she tends to overshare in her books before her editor steps in, but there needs to be a balance between oversharing and not revealing enough.
Overall, though, I really enjoyed Persistence of Memory. It was compelling and well-written and just fun to read as well. Addicting, even. Fans should not be disappointed.