The Memory Wood by Sam Lloyd: a reflection

I wanted to read something different after I retired and asked for book recommendations from a church member who keeps an Instagram account called “curiousbookreviewer” with over 5231 followers. She passed me three books, one on time travel by a Japanese author, on which I wrote a reflection HERE. Soon after that, I started on her second recommendation, a thriller titled, The Memory Wood by Sam Lloyd.

I have watched many a thriller movie but hardly read books of this genre. I had mixed feelings. The cover and the blurb warned me of a peer into the twisted depths of the human heart and I must admit to being reluctant to begin.

Somehow I managed to make a start and was immediately gripped by the writer’s use of striking phrases, metaphors and descriptions. As the atmosphere darkened with the abduction of the heroine, a clever 13 year old student chess player at a tournament, I chickened out and stalled a few weeks. One day Grace visited my daughter and I asked her, “Did the abductee survive in the end?”. When she said, “Yes”, it gave me the guts to continue reading. What for most would be a spoiler became a prodder for me.

I was absorbed by the mystery, the twists and turns in the plot, the engrossing characters and use of first person narrative by the two main protagonists in the book. One night I read until my wife told me its already 1 am, quite normal for young people to be awake, but not for me. It became riveting in the final third, with a cliffhanger Hollywood finish. I must say the author probably wrote it with an aim at the big screen. I am no purist so to me he did a great job and I am sure some director will make it into a profitable hit.

Human nature is capable of the most deceptive, inhumane and violent acts when it boils down to survival. Unfortunately the two protaganists, one a thirteen year old, had to resort to deception and violence to survive. The human psyche has ingenious defence mechanisms to protect itself from trauma, harm and guilt.

I believe the intent of the author is purely entertainment and commercial (which is okay) and this is no study of human nature. I enjoyed the ride, I mean the read, and look forward to the final book, which is Michio Kaku’s “The Future of Humanity”, a futuristic look at man’s future with the current developments in science and technology, for example, robotics, nanotechnology and biotechnology. I wonder if he will include the threat of pandemics in his projections.

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