A review by abbie_
The Memory Police, by Yōko Ogawa

mysterious reflective sad medium-paced
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No


 It’s interesting that the book starts with a line you might at first glance think has been mistranslated: ‘I sometimes wonder what was disappeared first’. What WAS disappeared, I hear you cry! But the subtle difference perfectly captures the sinister undertone of the novel. Things like plants and hats and musical instruments don’t just disappear on the unnamed island, they are disappeared, strategically and completely. Anyone found to be in possession of memories of the disappeared things will be punished by the Memory Police.
HOW good is that premise? I could best describe this book as haunting and quietly powerful. There are no fireworks or explosions but that doesn’t lessen its impact, and some of the imagery created within these pages is burned into my brain. Snyder does an excellent job with the translation; it never ceases to amaze me, seeing translators bring together two very different languages so seamlessly.
I only have one complaint that did bump this down from a perfect rating to what it is: none of the characters are given proper names. Call me old-fashioned, but I like my characters to have names, no matter how few they are. I feel like it creates a distance between the reader and the characters, and I can’t connect with them as fully as I’d like.
But even then, this remains a brilliant novel, a dark musing on loss and memory in an unforgiving setting.