“The Memory Police” by Yoko Ogawa | Book Review

Book Review | Rating – 3/5 | Genre – Dystopian / Japanese Fiction

This made up a part of three books that I bought at the beginning of the year, thank you birthday money! I was curious about this book for many reasons; one being my love of dystopian fiction, another the interestingly weird cover, and finally a great recommendation of Yoko’s work from a dear friend.

So, with these things in mind, it was definitely an opportunity I didn’t want to pass on. It was therefore added to my “to read” pile, and here we are having finished it.


On an unnamed island off an unnamed coast, objects are disappearing: first hats, then ribbons, birds, roses—until things become much more serious. Most of the island’s inhabitants are oblivious to these changes, while those few imbued with the power to recall the lost objects live in fear of the draconian Memory Police, who are committed to ensuring that what has disappeared remains forgotten.

When a young woman who is struggling to maintain her career as a novelist discovers that her editor is in danger from the Memory Police, she concocts a plan to hide him beneath her floorboards. As fear and loss close in around them, they cling to her writing as the last way of preserving the past. (Check it out here)


What did I think?

I was very back and forth when trying to compile my thoughts on this book. On the surface, yes I did really enjoy reading this book. It built a creepy dystopian world where the characters could do nothing but watched as parts of their lives disappeared. I was captured by the detail through which the author crafted this island, and detailed the story the protagonist was writing.

Where I started to get lost was how the “disappearances” were explained. It became very complicated trying to understand how characters could even acknowledge the appearance of items that had disappeared, and even how the world could feasibly change as certain objects ceased to exist. It was also frustrating not knowing what the overal reason for the disappearances actually was.

Reasons to read The Memory Police

  • Intriguing Plot: Its safe to say this is the main reason to read the book, its why I chose to read it after all. Despite it’s flaws, the plot is still fairly compelling and offers up a unique story within a fascinating world. I did enjoy watching how other characters adjusted to the changing world as more objects disappeared, while enjoying the story that the protagonist was creating.
  • Interesting side-plot: Another piece of the story that makes this book interesting to read is the smaller story that develops alongside the main story. The protagonist is an author, and throughout the book she is writing her next story. It can come across rather random, but its a nice addition to the rest of the book.

At the end of the day…

I was disappointed in this one. It is beautifully written, and the world that is created is so vivid and wonderful to picture while reading. Yet the general plot just doesn’t seem to go anywhere. I was super excited to see how the disappearances would come toa thrilling conclusion and there just wasn’t any sort of satisfying ending to what had been a really interesting read.

Now, I’m not going to completely disregard this book, as I said, the writing is wonderful it is overall a great read. Its just let down by the end.

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