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Memory of Water

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  5,079 ratings  ·  846 reviews
With the lyricism of Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, and the world building brilliance of Atwood, Emmi Itäranta’s effortless and poignant debut novel is a coming of age story full of emotional drama and wonderment.

Some secrets demand betrayal.

'You’re seventeen, and of age now, and therefore old enough to understand what I’m going to tell you,’ my father said. ‘This place doesn
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published May 8th 2014 by HarperVoyager (first published January 24th 2012)
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Average rating 3.71  · 
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Imagine you’re listening to the radio. A song comes up you’ve never heard before. You don’t know the band, but you like the quiet, melancholic melody. You stop to listen and the more you do, the more you like it. Except, you’re waiting for the song to take flight. You’re waiting for something to happen, something to take the song to the next level and surprise you. It never happens.

That’s what happened to me with this book. I wanted to like it better than I did.

Itäranta writes beautifully, but
Jan 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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Filled with philosophical themes, existentialism and moments of pure beauty, Memory of Water is a highly original, remarkably intelligent and infuriatingly teasing work of speculative fiction set in a dystopian world.

What we have here is a sad and hopeless world driven to the brink of extinction by its own inhabitants; humans. The global warming caused all the ice to melt, overflowing the oceans. The earth is scorched, the heat is almost unbearable,
Ian Mond
Jan 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What’s It About

The novel is set years into the future where global warning and rising seas has seen the destruction of cities, the takeover of Europe by China and the scarcity of fresh water.

Noria Kaitio is learning to become a tea master like her father which comes with its own responsibilities. One of which is knowledge of a hidden source of fresh water that used to supply the town but is now kept secret from the military. But for how long…

It’s worth noting that Memory of Water was originally
Itäranta is a Finnish author, and as I understand it, she wrote the book in both Finnish and in English, and it’s been published in both languages. Speaking as an author, let me tell you, that’s pretty badass.

Here’s the publisher’s summary:

"In the far north of the Scandinavian Union, now occupied by the power state of New Qian, seventeen-year-old Noria Kaitio studies to become a tea master like her father. It is a position that holds great responsibility and a dangerous secret. Tea masters alone
it could be such a brilliant book, but unfortunately it wasn't. I enjoyed it though, actually I enjoyed the writing, the era, the environment but the story has too many flaws, secrets, dark holes...

The story set in a dystopian world. Due to global warming all ices are melted and apparently contaminated. Now military control remaining water resources and having any secret well or spring or water pipe is a serious crime.

Noria is daughter of a tea master in a small village. Tea masters are watchers
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I read this because it was nominated one month for the Sword and Laser book club but lost to a book I had already read.

There are elements of this novel to like. The combination of Scandinavian and Chinese culture for the society of New Qian was really the best part, especially the section combining the northern lights with the Chinese festivals. Beautiful! Magical!

The theme of water scarcity is frequent these days, although having a teamaster in each village/town/city with the secrets of the
Althea Ann
Jul 15, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Blurb comparing a book to Ursula LeGuin? Gets me to read it every time...

Yes, I can see where the comparison came from. It probably reminds me most of the feel of LeGuin's 'Annals of the Western Shore' trilogy. The similarity is not so much in actual content, but in what is dwelled on; the themes and pace.

This will also appeal to those looking for post-apocalyptic YA who are interested in more thoughtful, character-oriented stories instead of just action.

The setting is a dystopian future
5 stars and more!

Do you know this feeling, when you close a book and all you can think of is 'Perfect!'?
Well this was one of those rare occasions. Every word where it is supposed to be, every sentence masterfully crafted. And to think that I only read the English translation and was told that the Finnish original was even better ... Kudos to the translator!

This book is about a dystopian world, a society after wars. It is about water, the most sought after good. Though melancholic and hopeless at
This book had truly beautiful prose and I loved that aspect of it. While I didn't get particularly attached to the characters I did enjoy the story. I really did not the heavy handed foreshadowing. Not only did it throw me out of the story, it made the things that happened late in the story lose their punch. It's hard for me to get really excited about an ending that's telegraphed from the start of the book.

The way this is written is beautifully evocative and it suits the feel of the tea
David Holmes
This is a book club read that I would probably never have heard of otherwise. It's a sort of post-apocalypse dystopia, but not quite like any I've read before.

For the first 200 pages, I was enjoying it quite a bit. The setting had some serious plausibility issues, but I was able to overlook them because I was engaged and curious about the world. Unfortunately in the latter half of the book, some things happened that started to really annoy me.

I see that this book is labeled "young adult" by
Dec 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Memory of Water is a slow story, a story which takes all the time it needs to unfold. Although it’s post-apocalyptic and dystopian, the focus is more on the emotional journey of the protagonist, who comes to understand her world and her place in it. The background is really fascinating, amalgamating a Finnish setting with Asian tea ceremonies. The prose and the pacing all echo those tea ceremonies: deliberate, considered, every movement relevant and part of the whole.

It’s not about dramatic
Nov 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf, young-adult
This is a lovely, lyrical novel. It takes place long after a water shortage. The reader doesn't see the wars or the chaos, just the new world that has emerged. The traditions and cultures that underpin the new society are at once recognizable and new. The main characters are capable and inquisitive teenagers who never act more heroic than is believable. I loved that the author didn't ever pander to the tropes of current teen lit. There's connection and conflict between characters, but no boy to ...more
Dec 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This fell a little flat for me. I will be back to elaborate. I just bumped this to 4 stars. It has lingered over the last few days. I keep thinking about water. Then I think about the issues the world has with water. Drought in Africa, Flint Michigan, there is a town in California that has no running water, potable water in India, there is so much more....The Dakota Pipeline.... Then I think about this novel. Yes, it fell a bit flat. It wasn't quite what I was expecting, this was a quiet, subtle ...more
Mary Robinette Kowal
After oil wars, come water wars. Seen through the eyes of a tea master, the obsession with water creates a visceral view of the future.
A fairly quick read, not sure how to rate it yet. I mostly liked the writing but found descriptions a little confusing sometimes, and my attention wandered occasionally.
Feb 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This didn't strike me as something I would enjoy but I was very impressed by it. Set in a stark, dystopian future where water is scarce, teenage Noria Kaitio is becoming a tea master and growing up very quickly. She soon becomes the keeper of two very important secrets; the illegal water spring entrusted to her by her father and, with her best friend, historical evidence of where the water went. She soon starts to resist the government and her subversive struggle leads her down a dangerous path, ...more
The writing in this book is absolutely lovely. It's lyrical, almost meditative, and really pulled me into a sense of place and tone. I could feel the heat pushing down on me, and the bugs buzzing in the air. The descriptions were lush and evocative, especially when describing the tea ceremony. It is easily one of the most beautiful pieces of writing I've read in quite some time. While I was reading I was absolutely engrossed and transported. Whenever I set the book down, however, things would ...more
Kathleen (QueenKatieMae)

Emmi Itaranta’s debut novel, Memory of Water, is a beautifully written cautionary tale about politics, global warming, and a young girl with a dangerous secret. Set in the distant future, global warming has completely rearranged the earth’s geographical footprint and all our oil reserves are long dried up and the planet’s sole remaining natural resource left is water. Both polar ice caps are but footnotes in history, the rivers and lakes are dried up and fresh water is a scarce, expensive
Stephanie Ward
'Memory of Water' is a captivating dystopian novel that portrays what life would be like if water became incredibly scarce and countries were more than willing to go to war over it. Noria is our teenage main character and the story follows her as she trains to follow in her father's footsteps as a tea master - a very powerful position full of responsibilities and secrets. Due to global warming, the world as we know it is long gone. Water is one of the most sought after resources - and politics ...more
A Poetic, Dark, Dystopian Speculative Fiction Novel that is One of the Year's Best

In hauntingly beautiful prose, Emmi Itäranta's "Memory of Water" is one of the finest dystopian speculative fiction novels I have read, worthy of comparison with Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale", George Orwell's "1984" and Walter Miller's "A Canticle for Leibowitz", offering readers a future that is as bleak and as terrifying as those depicted in Atwood, Orwell and Miller's celebrated novels. It is also one
Feb 09, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi-club-read
I loved the writing! I usually don't get into how well authors write but I really enjoyed the beautifulness (see how good my writing is?) of Itarana's words. The setting was equally dark and lovely. Feelings, emotions, ambiance all came through clearly and with meaning. The story was a tad aimless, it felt like there was enough subject matter for a trilogy and nothing received as much attention as I would have liked. A good read from a new author.
Nov 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wishlist
Water is the most versatile of all elements. So my father told me the day he took me to the place that didn't exist. Water walks with the moon and embraces the earth, and it isn't afraid to die in fire or live in air.

Death is water's closest companion. The two cannot be separated from us, for they are what we are ultimately made of: the versatility of water, and the closeness of death. Water has no beginning and no end, but death has both. Death
is both. Sometimes death travels hidden in water,
Mar 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook, ya, dystopia
I listened to the Finnish audiobook version of this dystopia from a future we might be heading into. Itäranta does not spell it out, but it's pretty clear that she is talking about the climate change, which in the time where this novel is set has led to a new geography. Many parts of the world as we know it today are now under water. Ironically, the most pressing daily issue is the lack of clean drinking water.
Itäranta's prose is beautiful and the picture that she paints of a possible future is
Feb 27, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: finland
A curious book, in a good way. A post-global-warming-and-Chinese-takeover story that at first seems to present itself as yet another Collins-style teenage dystopia, but then shrugs at launching the Big Heroic Plot and instead chooses to act local, mixing buddhist philosophy and stubborn Scandinavian existentialism into something that seems to want to fuse PK Dick and Tove Jansson (OK, enough with the namedropping already).

It's long after the polar icecaps melted, in what used to be central
Michelle Morrell
In the Chinese ruled police state of Scandinavia, a young tea master guards the last spring in hot, brutal world where water is the ultimate currency. This was a gentle, flowing book, crafted well to mimic the water it so venerates.

One of this year's Philip K Dick nominees. If the others are to this level, I'm going to have a hard time choosing a favorite.
May 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: in-my-library
Sometimes the writing style and/or prose capture my attention as much as the story. That could be said about this book. I'm even more impressed after finding out the author wrote this version in English simultaneously with a version in her native language of Finnish. It's also a good example of how a first-person narrative can still do a good job building characters around the protagonist.
Mar 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars
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Upon reading Memory of Water, it was obvious why it won the awards it did and is so highly regarded. In a sea of over-the-top YA dystopian novels, this is a quiet, unassuming, and meditative piece devoid of love interests, hyperaction scenes, or crazy maniacal villains. The people are simple; bound by the mundane lives they live in their village and all that entails.

Story: Noria lives in a small town, studying under her
Jun 11, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi
This was quite tricky one to rate. It's beautifully written, the idea was definitely original and even witty, you could relate to the characters, and even though the plot was quite unsurprising once you got the hang of it, the simplicity wasn't bothering me - all in all, it was a good, even a great read. However, something was bothering me. It wasn't just the way it repeated some ideas/lines over and over again (though some of them were actually very good to be repeated such as that "The ...more
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“Water is the most versatile of all elements. It isn't afraid to burn in fire or fade into the sky, it doesn't hesitate to shatter against sharp rocks in rainfall or drown into the dark shroud of the earth. It exists beyond all eginnings and ends. On the surface nothing will shift, but deep in underground silence, water will hide and with soft fingers coax a new channel for itself, until stone gives in and slowly settles around the secret space.
Death is water's close companion, and neither of them can be separated from us, for we are made of the versatilitiy of water and the closeness of death. Water doesn't belong to us, be we belong to water: when it has passed through our fingers and pores and bodies, nothing separates us from earth.”
“Silence is not empty or immaterial, and it is not needed to chain tame things. It often guards powers strong enough to shatter everything.” 11 likes
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