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Amnesia Moon

3.49  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,872 Ratings  ·  253 Reviews
Since the war and the bombs, Hatfork is a sick town--full of mutants and sexual deviants. Chaos lives in the projection booth in the abandoned Multiplex, trying to remember his past. With a fur-covered girl named Melinda, Chaos sets out on a journey in pursuit of his missing identity. A stolen love will pull Chaos and Melinda deep into a kaleidoscope of broken reality.
Hardcover, 247 pages
Published September 1st 1995 by Houghton Mifflin
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Jun 28, 2015 Darwin8u rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Mad Moon: Furry Road


I've read a bunch of Lethem (and a lot of Philip K Dick), so for me this novel was just a mediocre, road trip, post-apocalpytic PKD remake*. IT had obvious direct PKD references and influences: Eye in the Sky & Dr. Bloodmoney & The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch. PKD is the only one who should really try to be PKD**.

Later Lethem (Motherless Brooklyn & The Fortress of Solitude) & Chronic City) is more confident and sings with his own voice. This one apes an
Throughout the years Jonathan Lethem has made no secret of the high regard that he holds for Philip K. Dick. The MacArthur grant winner has edited and written the introduction for the Library of America anthologies of Dick's work and written several great articles about the mad prophet of science fiction's final descent into paranoia and madness. For all of this though, it wasn't until I picked up one of Lethem's first published novels, Amnesia Moon, that I was able to see just how much the hall ...more
Dec 14, 2013 Jason rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2013
Be wary of this book. Be aware that for about two thirds of it it will make next to no sense. Be aware that the final chapter, the one in which answers are given, when the plot is made tidy, when we get to breath deep and finally "get" what's going on--that chapter is missing.

Chaos lives in a future America after the bombs have dropped, living among mutants in an abandoned theater, afraid to sleep because then he will be forced to dream the dreams of the petty tyrant who rules this land. When he
Jun 25, 2015 Petra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: just-fun
Loved it! What a zany dream-world! Where do dreams and reality collide? How can one tell in which state one is in? What if one's dreams collide with another's dreams? Can one stop dreaming to live reality? What's reality?
This book is surreal, which makes it incredibly interesting and entertaining. Chaos moves from one dream state to another, trying to figure things out. The world has changed. Where did he come from? How can he find out? Who can he believe? What's real? As he struggles to make s

I really do not know what to make of this one -- it's bizarre and disjointed, with no clear message or even plot. But . . .

There are parts here that seem allegorical (sometimes heavy handedly so) -- broad statements on American life. Intentional? Or am I just desperate to find some kind of meaning? I really couldn't say.

So it's a challenging, frustrating story. I wish I could say that I liked it, but I just can't. It's unusual for me to find a book that is just too weird, but this one is definit
Each chapter we learn more about Chaos' world yet each chapter we know less. Amnesia Moon is a trippy dystopian novel that follows around Chaos, a movie theater dwelling survivor, in his trek to find what is wrong with the world, and what is wrong with his memories. Lethem effectively throws us into a weird place with memories that can't quite be counted on and situations that take a few paragraphs to start making sense. The characters are all well defined (when appropriate) and I was always int ...more
Althea Ann
Since I just re-read 'Motherless Brooklyn' I thought I'd get around to reading the sci-fi book of Lethem's that's been sitting on my shelf. Unfortunately, I didn't like it nearly so much.
'Amnesia Moon' is really a seriously wanna-be-Philip-K.-Dick book. If you really like Dick and his trippy perspectives on things, you might love this book. I thought it had some interesting moments - but, as a whole, it didn't work for me.
It's a post-apocalyptic scenario. There's definitely been some kind of dis
Jul 03, 2011 Faye rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jonathan Lethem did it to me again! I am not a great fan of science fiction but I enjoyed "Amnesia Moon" just as I enjoyed "Motherless Brooklyn" and yet do not read many murder mysteries. Here is one gem from the book, "Vance being real doesn't mean the aliens are, said Fault. It's just another dream, Everett. What better way to keep people under your thumb? Make up some big enemy, justify everything as part of the war effort." This is a story about a lost, single man named Chaos who discovers t ...more
I'm glad I read Chronic City and The Fortress of Solitude before this, because I wouldn't have tried Lethem again had this been my first experience.
Apr 24, 2016 Tom rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
As typical of most "literary Science Fiction" it is only interested in using the SF/Fantasy genre for a hip, ironic setting, however, it seems that Lethem lacks the talent to pull it off effectively. I forced myself to finish this book with a vague interest to find out "what happens", only to have the payoff of a lame, unsatisfying ending.
Ori Fienberg
In a line: not as inventive as it thinks it is, but definitively strange.
Or: Cloud-Atlas lite.
Or: Nightmare Invisible Cities.

Certainly the general concept of Amnesia Moon is solid; I'm all for multi-hued-dynamic-post-apocalyptic-landscapes, but at many points the novel begins to feel just a little too smugly pleased with its own surrealism. While reading I was driven by a great sense of unease. Not unease like "The Road," where I was perpetually worried for the main-characters, but unease where
This makes Dostoyevski's The Double look like child's play. And the notion of FSR--Finite Subjective Reality makes Inception's Dream Seeding like something commonplace, accessible.
The Chaos/Everett interplay is the most entertaining cabal of schizophrenia I've ever encountered. Jonathan Lethem, without a doubt is a genius, Amnesia Moon is both comic and tragic, funny and heartwarming. And sometimes grotesque too. But so much fun to read. Or listen to, I listened to to the audio book narrated by
Jamie Dacyczyn
*sigh* I just typed a review, but then accidentally deleted it. I don't have enough to say about this book to make it worth retyping, so I'll just sum up:

I didn't "get" this book. The first half seemed potentially interesting, but the second half seemed to wallow around in a muddled plot involving dreams. Because I only read one chapter a night for a few days, I lost track of what was dream and what was real. Alas, I didn't care about the characters or the original plot enough to sort it all out
Mar 03, 2014 Sam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I initially found this book on a class trip to NYC, on the "under $5" table on the bottom floor of Strand bookstore. I picked it up as the back summary looked mildly interesting, and I wanted a souvenir from the marvelous place.

Up until yesterday, I hadn't gotten more than a few pages in. I had repeatedly picked it up, read a page, then had to put it down for homework or a different required book. As of yesterday, I finally had a free day to read it.

Now let me tell you- I read the heck out of th
Paige Ellen Stone
Jonathan Lethem, is, in my opinion, the most direct literary descendant of one of Science Fiction's few true Grand Master's, specifically, the inimitable Philip K. Dick. In New Your Times' book reviewer's, John Leonard's, opinion, this volume is Mr. Lethem's "Dickiet of Lethem's novels." No disagreement to be found here. although I have not, as yet, read all of Mr. Lethem's entire body of published works. If the fates are fair to me, I shall accomplishment that feat before my time is up, or afte ...more
Lilyn G. (Scifi and Scary)
Have you ever read one of those books that suddenly went so far in the direction you weren't expected that you had no idea - NONE- how you were going to review it? Like, the book started off all normal, but by the end of it you were left staring blankly ahead, thinking to yourself "What the heck did I just read?"

Well... What the heck did I just read???

Its an interesting premise, and at least the first half of it is very definitely a great, unique read that I thoroughly enjoyed. Now, I enjoyed th
Meghan Fidler
Lethem's "Amnesia Moon" hooked me from the first chapter, successfully creating an overwhelming need to rearrange my day so I could read the damn thing to the end immediately.
I found each scene in the story to be anecdotes for different aspects of American culture, making the book a wonderful piece for sharing and debating after being read. (I will not include my thoughts on these here, for fear that it would color the imaginations of future readers in a thick green).
Melinda, despite her relati
Jim Rybicki
A protagonist, in search of his memories, travels through a world that may or may not have suffered a global catastrophe after which people have become able to alter reality with their dreams. Whether or not you should read this book depends on what you want out of it. Here is a quote from Lethem that might help you decide:

"Cornell Woolrich, one of my favorite writers, was the master of the paranoid amnesiac plot, in which protagonists would wake up not knowing what they’d done and spend the ent
First of all, I love being dropped into the middle of a story and having to figure out what's going on--seriously. Secondly, Lethem's got an easy-to-read style that just flows well and gets the pages turning right away. So, knowing all that, why only three stars?

Unfortunately, my interest started waning toward the end. I'm not sure if the book actually became less interesting, or if it was a matter of lost momentum for me: I had a busy weekend where I was hardly able to get any reading in, and w
Nov 21, 2010 Daveski rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 52-in-2010
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 12, 2010 Don rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
As the cover says, futurist road trip noir written in obvious homage to Lethem's hero, Philip K Dick. An American world completely transformed by a disaster which could be, but somehow isn't quite, a nuclear holocaust. Chaos, the hero, breaks out of his refuge in the mutant town of Hatfork to find out what has happened, and discovers in his travels that reality now has the quality of dreams dreamt by mysterious, dominant dreamers. Finding out here they are is the moody, discontended task of a re ...more
Dec 07, 2009 Monica rated it really liked it
Because I’m obsessed with rhythm, I’ve started reading Jonathan Lethem’s books in order, from first to I do with pretty much all authors from whom I start reading more than one book. “Amnesia Moon” is the second Lethem book and I liked it as much as the first.

This book can only be called science fiction noir. It takes place in a futuristic world. A world where you’re never quite sure if Chaos is living in a reality or a dream world...where the lines of Chaos and Everett blend and mi
Aug 03, 2009 Lesley rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is always difficult to read an early book by a writer without being influenced by the quality of the later works. That said, this is an early work in many ways, yet well worth reading.
The dream-like plot reminded me of Steve Erickson's novels, as well as the laisse-faire approach to plot. Now, I have never minded Erickson's handling of plot because the logic of his narratives seems more archetypal. In Amnesia Moon, the plot seems to reach a moment where resolution is possible, and then falls
Nate D
Mar 25, 2009 Nate D rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, favorites
Easily my favorite of Lethem's Dick-influenced "Concept Sci-Fi" beginnings, Amnesia Moon is part post-apocalyptic pulp, part episodic road novel, part Wizard of Oz reworking, and part surrealist philosophizing. It's pretty heavy on the familiar or cliche plot devices -- village of mutants, amnesiac protagonist, authoritarian local government, alien conspiracies, the subjective nature of the world -- but thrown together with fresh vision and panache into a truly unique work. Takes some truly unex ...more
May 02, 2016 Bryce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Buck Ward
Dec 04, 2014 Buck Ward rated it liked it
The best way to approach Amnesia Moon is to treat it like reading the telling of a dream. It is disconnected and nonlinear and weird, like a dream. Some terrible apocalypse has happened but nobody seems to remember exactly what it was. A nuclear war? An alien invasion? Something strange, sometimes referred to simply as 'the break'. By the end of the book, it really doesn't seem to matter. There's not much of a plot - it's more about learning what's going on, about why everything is so weird.

Sean Thayer
May 31, 2016 Sean Thayer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amnesia Moon is a permanent chill up my spine.

PKD pioneered the language, Lethem learned to speak it. Just as you cannot read an English novel without first understanding the English language, so you cannot read Amnesia Moon without first understanding the language of PKD. If every dystopian world ever imagined by PKD is a single word, an atomic concept unto itself, then Amnesia Moon may be the first novel written entirely in such a language.

There is no science fiction future, no apocalypse, no
Aug 31, 2014 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sff, philosophy
I've always liked the gestalt theory of horror novels--that every character is an aspect of one self and the horror element could not exist except for that specific self--and the theory fits this book even better than most, despite it wading in the Venn space between horror and science fiction. This dystopian story is much more philosophically substantial than the cover blurbs would have you think. It's also pretty far down the "literary" end of the speculative fiction spectrum, so it ends abrup ...more
Nathan Marone
Amnesia Moon is exactly what dystopian sci-fi should be: breathtaking entertainment packed with ideas. In the real world there is some truth to the notion that we live in each other's dreams, because if we are smart and have the will we can make our dreams come true. I dot mean this in some idiotic sentimental sense, but in the real sense - I dream of a world that is this way and create that dream around myself so that anyone who comes in contact with me, and especially those who enter into the ...more
Drew Rhodes
Feb 19, 2014 Drew Rhodes rated it liked it
There were times in this book where I thought Letham was a brilliant madman. Then there were times I thought he's a blundering clod. I'm still not sure which it is. I never really felt like the world he created was tangible, but as the book's about dreamers, that could have been his intent. I think the best thing I can really say about this book is this- most stories change you as a person. They make you experience something new and then you're just not quite the same afterwards. Dreams sort of ...more
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Jonathan Allen Lethem (born February 19, 1964) is an American novelist, essayist and short story writer.

His first novel, Gun, with Occasional Music, a genre work that mixed elements of science fiction and detective fiction, was published in 1994. It was followed by three more science fiction novels. In 1999, Lethem published Motherless Brooklyn, a National Book Critics Circle Award-winning novel t
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