Tag Archives: psychological

Review: Dark Room Etiquette by Robin Roe

Dark Room Etiquette by Robin Roe

Dark Room Etiquette
Robin Roe
Published October 11, 2022

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

About Dark Room Etiquette

Sixteen-year-old Sayers Wayte has everything—until he’s kidnapped by a man who tells him the privileged life he’s been living is based on a lie.

Trapped in a windowless room, without knowing why he’s been taken or how long the man plans to keep him shut away, Sayers faces a terrifying new reality. To survive, he must forget the world he once knew, and play the part his abductor has created for him.

But as time passes, the line between fact and fiction starts to blur, and Sayers begins to wonder if he can escape . . . before he loses himself.

My Review

My feelings about this book range from strong to very strong. At the beginning, Sayers isn’t a very likeable guy. Sure, he’s not the one actively tormenting another boy in his class. He’s just the one standing by, watching it happen. He’s spoiled, rude, and unaffected by other people’s pain. We get to know this version of him over the first quarter or so of the book.

Then he gets kidnapped by someone who seems to be deeply unwell. At first Sayers refuses to cooperate with his abductor. But as time goes on and escape continues to be an impossibility, he does what he must in order to survive.

The book feels like an exploration of what trauma does to someone. Both in the way it breaks someone down, and in the way that it leaves permanent marks on that person’s life, even after the traumatic event is over.

I’m not at all an expert on trauma or how it affects anyone. I’ve watched someone close to me grapple with past trauma, and some of the things Sayers does and says were familiar to me because of that experience. I liked that the whole story wasn’t an exploration of the trauma itself. I liked that Sayers formed different relationships and that his relationships operated differently as he began to piece things back together. He valued different things. He wanted different things. But he also wasn’t capable of some of the things he’d been capable of before.

So there were lots of things I liked, but it was a hard book to read. I think the hardest part was witnessing the breakdown Sayers endures during his captivity.

Readers who enjoyed A LIST OF CAGES will enjoy DARK ROOM ETIQUETTE. I think fans of WHAT UNBREAKABLE LOOKS LIKE by Kate McLaughlin should check this one out.

Content Notes

Content warning for drug use, bullying, torture, assault, murder, suicide, and references to sexual assault.

Recommended for Ages 16 up.

One significant minor character is Latine. Sayers’ best friend is bisexual.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used somewhat frequently.

Romance/Sexual Content
Kissing between boy and girl. References to sex.

Spiritual Content
A classmate discusses her faith openly. Later, Sayers prays with a girl.

Violent Content
Sayers witnesses a boy bullying another student. A boy takes another boy into the woods, clearly intending to harm him. Sayers’ abductor hits him and keeps him chained or locked up, sometimes starving him and another person. Sayers discovers bodies of boys who were murdered. He witnesses someone die by suicide. He learns that someone sexually assaulted another person.

Drug Content
At the beginning of the book, Sayers prefers drugs that will make him feel amped up. Late in the story, he smokes weed, using it to calm himself down.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support this blog. I received a free copy of DARK ROOM ETIQUETTE in exchange for my honest review.

Review: Lies My Memory Told Me by Sacha Wunsch

Lies My Memory Told Me
Sacha Wunsch
Inkyard Press
Published October 19, 2021

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

About Lies My Memory Told Me

Enhanced Memory changed everything. By sharing someone else’s memory, you can experience anything and everything with no risk at all: learn any skill instantly, travel the world from home, and safeguard all your most treasured secrets forever. Nova’s parents invented this technology, and it’s slowly taking over their lives. Nova doesn’t mind—mostly. She knows Enhanced Memory is a gift.

But Kade says Nova doesn’t know the costs of this technology that’s taken the world by storm. Kade runs a secret vlog cataloging real experiences, is always on the move, and is strangely afraid of Nova—even though she feels more comfortable with him than she ever has with anyone. Suddenly there are things Nova can’t stop noticing: the way her parents don’t meet her eyes anymore, the questions no one wants her to ask, and the relentless feeling that there’s something she’s forgotten…

My Review

This book was a tough one for me. I like the concept a lot. I think I was expecting vibes a little more like The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind? My favorite thing about that movie is the way they took the concept and examined it from many different angles. I feel like LIES MY MEMORY TOLD ME has a little bit of that in that it touches on several different ways Enhanced Memory technology could be corrupted or used to cause harm.

I had a hard time getting into the pacing, though. It felt like some elements to the story emerged really late– like the idea that there might be more to Nova’s history than she remembers. I think I wanted her to collect information and form a plan of attack a lot sooner than she did, and even when she did, her plan felt like, “I guess I’ll just go down this weird hallway and say I’m lost!” While I think that fit her quirky, compulsive character, I felt like it sapped some of the tension for me.

For most of the story, I felt like Nova’s emotional landscape stayed mostly in the sad/angry spectrum. I loved the relationship between her and Kade– and loved the way Kade brought her out of her grim feelings.

On the whole, I still think the concept of LIES MY MEMORY TOLD ME is really cool. I wish that I’d had deeper connection with the characters and the pacing of the story. I think readers who enjoyed THE FEVER KING by Victoria Lee might enjoy this one for its sci-fi thriller vibes.

Content Notes for Lies My Memory Told Me

Recommended for Ages 12 up.

Nova’s best friend Andie is transgender.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Strong profanity used fairly frequently.

Romance/Sexual Content
Kiss between boy and girl. At one point Nova sees a holographic movie preview to a pornographic memory.

Spiritual Content

Violent Content

Drug Content

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support this blog. I received a free copy of LIES MY MEMOERY TOLD ME in exchange for my honest review.