Reader vs Reader: Nemesis

Welcome to Reader vs. Reader (anyone have any wicked name suggestions???).  Two librarians who have read the same book will discuss it critically.  They may agree, agree on certain points, or completely disagree.  RvR will challenge your reading comfort zone and dig deeply into the text to find potential problems or subtle brilliance.  And maybe both.  

In May, Andrea and Pam both read Nemesis by Brendan Reichs

Reader vs Reader: Nemesis

He killed me. He killed me not. He killed me.

It’s been happening since Min was eight. Every two years, on her birthday, a strange man finds her and murders her in cold blood. But hours later, she wakes up in a clearing just outside her tiny Idaho hometown—alone, unhurt, and with all evidence of the horrifying crime erased.

Across the valley, Noah just wants to be like everyone else. But he’s not. Nightmares of murder and death plague him, though he does his best to hide the signs. But when the world around him begins to spiral toward panic and destruction, Noah discovers that people have been lying to him his whole life. Everything changes in an eye blink.

For the planet has a bigger problem. The Anvil, an enormous asteroid threatening all life on Earth, leaves little room for two troubled teens. Yet on her sixteenth birthday, as she cowers in her bedroom, hoping not to die for the fifth time, Min has had enough. She vows to discover what is happening in Fire Lake and uncovers a lifetime of lies: a vast conspiracy involving the sixty-four students of her sophomore class, one that may be even more sinister than the murders.

The Quick Reactions:

 

Pam: Yep. I wanted to read it because it sounded like a cool premise with probably a government conspiracy but holy cats. It was just … everywhere. And nowhere?Andrea: While the premise was interesting, I dislike reading a 400+ book and having no idea what is happening at the end.

Snippet of our conversation (Warning: spoilers everywhere!):

Andrea: I hate how I feel like I still have no idea what happened in this book.

Pam: YES! I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that the story seemed to change completely several times

Andrea: That too. I mean, seriously, we go from weird to weirder to wth

Pam: First it was about being murdered, with a “is it or isn’t it a hallucination” twist
Okay. Then there is an asteroid (???) but not really but WAIT more asteroids and a few comets??? and earthquakes???? And they are government test subjects (again, okay, for a conspiracy novel). But then LOL NO THEY ARE KILLED and turned into computer code so they can fight each other to keep the human race alive

Andrea: Like I don’t even get the ending. They can’t die—even though he said they could—so I’m like what’s the point???

Pam: I thought we just established that everyone is dead. Why this bizarre Lord of the Flies arrangement? How did Ethan go from punk jerk to evil mastermind? Why does Noah believe all this stuff about his purpose? How do you go from “nuzzling” someone to shooting them?

Yeah, I didn’t get that either. It was like you’re all gonna die, but you’re dead, but you might not “reset” because … I have no idea

ALSO, that thing with the Nemesis star feels very Scientology to me

Andrea: Mmmhmm, and I agree about Noah. That boy like flipped a switch

Pam: It was so weird.

Andrea: Agree. It was all like—I’m like you, let’s kiss and hide away together—oh, haha, just kidding, let me actually kill you now. But still, I want to know wth is going on. Like how the hell does turning them into computer code save them??

Pam: I don’t know????!?!?!! Like why did they have to be infected and then MURDERED (but the really mean betas were just hypnotized????) over and over in order to prepare them to die and be turned into code.

It felt like a mashup of two books I really didn’t like: Alpert’s THE SIX (about kids whose brains are uploaded as code into robots) and Sigler’s ALIVE series (which went from weird sexy schoolgirls to conspiracy to aliens to alien war to killing other versions of themselves)

Andrea: Yeah, I don’t get how it all ties together at all. Like were they being put into the world and then taken out? But then that doesn’t make sense either

Pam: I’m just so confused. I was also very cranky yesterday when I finished because those were hours of my life I will never get back.

Also also: I thought that the slightly-unhinged prepper character could have been, IDK, more of a player? But then the author would have had to decide what story he was telling. And I don’t think anyone knows what’s going on.

Andrea: At this point, I wonder if the author knows what story he’s telling! Because none of it makes sense to me—at all. And for me to get to the end of a 440-page book and not know? Like I’m not going to read the sequel and I want my 6 hours back. The premise was interesting but it just—-wasn’t executed in a good fashion

Pam: Yep. I wanted to read it because it sounded like a cool premise with probably a government conspiracy but holy cats. It was just … everywhere. And nowhere?
It makes me wonder about the VIRALS series that he wrote with his mom.

Andrea: I heard the VIRALS was really good—so I was surprised how much of a mess this book was. And I think maybe SOME teens would like, but I think most would just be frustrated like us. Like I don’t even have anything good to say—and I always usually have at least something good to say.

Pam: Yes, I kept asking myself “So YA is for teens–do I know teens who would like this?” and … no? Maybe some tweens would go for it, but whatever makes a popcorn movie fun (asteroids, quick romance, government conspiracy) just. Doesn’t. Work. Here.

Andrea: Agree!