Rating: 5 out of 5
Madeleine Roux’s science fiction/horror novel Reclaimed takes place a couple hundred years in the future. Earth is in bad shape, and Senna lives on a space station. She has a lot of trauma from a horrible event that left her as the sole survivor, and a reclusive, wealthy, brilliant technologist, Paxton Dunn, offers her a way out: he can erase the traumatic memories, and leave the rest of her intact. Along with her are two other participants. Han, a brilliant 14-year-old boy who idolizes Paxton, wants to forget details surrounding his mother’s death. Zurri, a supermodel, wants to forget the horrific death of her stalker. Paxton promises the LENG program can help all of them, but there are unexpected side effects, and the participants start to wonder if more memories aren’t being taken away from them than just the ones they expected.
The characters are wonderful. Paxton is not the stereotypical reclusive genius. While he surrounds himself with beautiful women, that’s a detail that becomes much more interesting as we learn more about those women. Senna is shy and easily overwhelmed, but she has a great deal of strength inside. Zurri is the very definition of fierce; while she comes across as a demanding diva, she too has that inner strength, and has some very firm moral convictions. Han seems like an arrogant kid, yet he has his own sort of brilliance and his own emotional needs. Not a single character in here disappointed me or felt too one-sided. Senna is the closest we get to a traditionally “likable” character, but they’re all absolutely engaging. They make a particularly intriguing whole as a group–not at all three characters I would have thought to throw together.
Most of the book takes place on the barely-inhabited Ganymede. The place is dangerous, and Paxton lives there with just a skeleton crew. There’s intriguing use of some technologies, not always in expected ways. We do eventually see how LENG works, getting a bit more information with each person who’s subjected to the method. The LENG program is very beautifully handled in how it’s revealed to us a bit at a time, via both its effects and the experiences of the three participants. The theme of how our traumas inform who we are, and what might happen if we try to curate our memories, is riveting.
This is my second Madeleine Roux book, and I love both of them. I hope she writes more books that take place in this universe, as the combination of horror and science fiction is a favorite of mine!
Then came the fear.