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The Unhappening of Genesis Lee

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Seventeen-year-old Genesis Lee has never forgotten anything. As one of the Mementi—a small group of genetically-enhanced humans—Gena remembers everything with the help of her Link bracelets, which preserve memories perfectly. But Links can be stolen, and six people have already lost their lives to a memory thief, including Gena’s best friend.

Anyone could be next. Which is why Gena is less than pleased to meet a strange but charming boy named Kalan who claims that they’ve not only met, but that Gena knows who the thief is.

The problem is, Gena doesn’t remember Kalan, she doesn’t remember seeing the thief, and she doesn’t know why she’s forgetting things— or how much else she might forget. As growing tensions between Mementi and ordinary humans drive the city of Havendale into chaos, Gena and Kalan team up to search for the thief. And as Gena loses more memories, they realize they have to solve the mystery fast.

Because Gena’s life is unhappening around her.

352 pages, Hardcover

First published November 18, 2014

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About the author

Shallee McArthur

2 books62 followers
Shallee McArthur is the author of THE UNHAPPENING OF GENESIS LEE. She originally wanted to be a scientist, until she discovered she liked her science best in fictional form. When she’s not writing science fiction and fantasy for both the young adult and adult markets, she’s attempting to raise her son and daughters as proper geeks, playing video games, or sewing her own clothes. She has a degree in English from Brigham Young University and lives in southern Utah with her husband and three children.

And because people always ask, her name is pronounced "shuh-LEE." But she answers to anything that sounds remotely close.

She is represented by Hannah Bowman of Liza Dawson Associates.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 127 reviews
Profile Image for Molly Mortensen.
441 reviews211 followers
April 3, 2018

In a world where people wear their memories in beads, someone is stealing them.

(Yep, that’s it one sentence tells you all you need to know. Sound good?)

Set Up:

The Mementi (people with memories in beads called links) founded the city of Havendale so they would have a place to belong, since they are ostracized in the outside world. However, in Havendale the Populous (what the Mementi call normal people) are only able to have menial labor jobs and are looked down upon.

The company of Archon was founded to use the Mementi’s intellect and skills to make the world better for them through the creation of new technologies. Since every Mementi has stock in Archon, they all have plenty of money, where all of the Populous in the city are poor.

Okay, a little more summary:

Genesis Lee is a Mementi living in Havendale. She’s trying to discover who’s behind the Link thefts when she runs into Kalan, a populous boy who may be the only one who can help her.

My Review:

Some would consider this a dystopian, and though the city of Havendale has a dystopian feel to it the plot is really more mystery.

At first glance this book has a really strange cover, but after reading it, it totally makes sense, (Gena is in ballet and dreams of being an astronaut.) and one of the themes of this book is about her being who she really is instead of who her parents want her to be.

The Good:

The Mementi had a cool culture, they’re always polite (because no one wants someone to have a bad memory of them) and they wear lots of covering clothing since one touch with another Mementi can transfer memories. Thought really went into what it would be like for those who could never forget. I like the whole Mementi can absorb knowledge into their brains thing. (Reminded me of the Matrix.)

The history behind what created the Mementi made sense, so often in a book like this the author has a cool concept, but the explanation of how this world came to be is lacking.

The romance was sweet, no instant romance here, it was gradual and well done. I liked both of the main characters, especially Gena. She got so strong over the course of this novel. The minor characters were well done too, but this novel was mostly about Gena and Kalan.

This book was surprisingly deep at times when talking about what memories one would want to forget and keeping all of your memories to deal with them properly.

There were several twists and I didn’t guess any of them except the last one, so it was a good little mystery. Unhappening had a good ending too, (I’m not saying happily ever after or not, since most of you know I’m a fan of that and I wouldn’t want spoilers.) I mean that everything was wrapped up. I don’t know if this will be a series, but if it’s not I’m happy with that.

The Not As Good: (Since none of these things are really bad)

There are a couple of little editing mistakes, like when they were listing off names one was mentioned twice as though the first time hadn’t happened, and there’s a little annoying thing that happens to contradict what was already said in the end, but that could’ve just been the character’s doing. Neither of these things took away from the book though and this was an arc.

One of Gena’s friends has conveniently hacked almost every system in the city. I wish it had been Gena with this ability and a little more explanation was given, but the hacking wasn’t just used as an easy get out of jail free card.

In the middle of the book there are lots of Christian beliefs talked about, the love interest Kalan is Christian. Sometimes this can get a little preachy, but it was okay here, just another part to a character not the author trying to convince the readers of his/her beliefs.

I didn’t ‘feel’ her panic attacks, but it was a fine attempt. I was afraid she was going to go with the PTSD is cured instantly thing, but she didn’t, so kudos!

The Bad: Gena insulted fedoras. Fedoras are cool! (Now I sound like the 11th doctor, but still.)

Would I recommend this book? Yes! Would I read something else by this author? Yep.

Point of View: First (Gena)

Predictability: 2 out of 5 (Where 1 is George RR Martin (If the characters make a plan or think about the future I know it isn’t going to go that way.) And 5 is Cinder (where I guessed what was going to happen long before it did, but it was still a great book.)

Source: Edelweiss

My Rating: 7/10 Stars

Profile Image for Tanja (Tanychy).
589 reviews258 followers
November 12, 2014
Review also posted at Ja čitam, a ti?

Welcome to the typical day in my life, when I'm just browsing Edelweiss/NetGalley and suddenly I see a pretty cover and why wouldn't I download it! Right, so yeah week as I am I go for it. I did that countless times and (oops) I did it again with this book. I found The Unhappening of Genesis Lee one day at Edelweiss and well here I am writing a review for it.

First element in this story that grabbed me was the whole eidetic memory idea which was always fascinating to me. Now imagine a world or maybe even future where world is developed that much that people actually have the capacity to have internal but also external memory connected to you by technology. Seems freaky and it is for me. It'd be amazing to remember all the good things from life, but there are also bad ones. I do appreciate my brain as it tends to forget about bad things often enough. Like I said freaky and scary but at the same time we never know what future brings.

Even though it freaked me out, this book has also got me amazed and really invested in the story. I really got the whole idea. Another important thing is that the romance here was so good! I loved it and how it was developed. We have had enough first meetings for the lifetime, I believe, but still Kelan and Gena had that chemistry necessary for the book.

Despite freaking me out and driving me crazy at the moments, this book still offered a really interesting idea which is nicely done. A story that I'll think about even some time after reading it.

Rating: 3.5 stars.
Profile Image for Danielle.
397 reviews64 followers
January 6, 2015
Read This Review & More Like It At Ageless Pages Reviews

The Unhappening of Genesis Lee and I are not meant to be. I thought we were. It’s a young-adult sci-fi, one of my favorite genres, with a great synopsis, a pretty cover, and high ratings. Unfortunately, it’s also heavily Christian, with a saccharine ending, and not enough character development.

Gena’s a Mementi, genetically enhanced humans who have perfect recall of every moment of their lives, but only if those memories are stored in Links, special wood beads worn as jewelry. Someone is stealing Links, and after a night out with friends, a mysterious normal boy approaches Gena and tells her that she knew who it was, before she lost her own memories of the night.

Kalan is my first issue with the book. While Gena got character development, though a lot of it was very surface level, all I know about Kalan is his dad’s a preacher and he believes in God. He works at a garage, but does he like it? Does he go to school? Where are his friends? What does he dream of? I’m supposed to love the character as much as Gena does, but I never felt why. He’s nice, sure, but maybe YA characters should stop falling in love with the first guy who helps them.

Speaking of, the mystery they’re solving is a convoluted mess. It doesn’t help that Gena forgets Kalan and has to start all over three times, which was too many. There are two feuding science companies, corrupt police, missing persons, arson… and yet, it wasn’t very exciting. Except for the actual thief, all the people involved are the shady people the characters have suspected since chapter three. ()

I don’t read Christian fiction. I don’t find it enjoyable and it doesn’t match my personal values, so I choose to avoid the genre. I really wish there had been some hint in the blurb or the shelving to indicate how preachy the scenes with Kalan’s dad are. The rest of the book certainly has some overtones, particularly in the questions of how memories define our sense of self, but I really almost DNFd at the protracted sermon. It didn’t even add anything new. We already knew the non-Mementi didn’t like the enhanced people. It read like a different book every time the character was on the scene.

The Unhappening of Genesis Lee isn’t a bad debut, but it’s not one for me. There are some good science fiction ideas: the Links, the Mementi graveyard, the Low-G dance club. I really appreciated that Gena loves astronomy and ballet. Too often “smart” characters aren’t allowed to have “girly” interests, too. I liked the diversity, that she was a quarter Chinese and acknowledged that often. Unfortunately, there was just too much I didn’t like to overcome.
Profile Image for Benni.
513 reviews14 followers
November 7, 2014
Review: http://bennitheblog.com/bookbiters/th...

The Mementi are a group of humans descended from genetically-altered ones who remember everything. Their memories are stored in “Link” beads that touch their body.

Seventeen-year-old Genesis “Gena” Lee is out partying one night when someone steals a Link from her beset friend, Cora, robbing Cora of her last two years and inflicting psychological damage. As Gena looks into the matter more, she discovers someone else seems to be stealing her own memories without ever touching her own Link beads. She will have to solve this mystery of the memory thief before she loses all her memories.

At around the 30% mark, I was ready to declare The Unhappening of Genesis Lee a DNF, which I do not do often—at least not after investing the time to read almost a third of a book. Although the teenage protagonists take some precautions to guard their Link beads—for example, Gena hides her beads under her gloves, the precautions are still unsatisfying. After all, Gena wears some of her beads on what amounts to a friendship bracelet crafted from her best friend, Cora (I’d be stringing them on titanium steel or something really sturdy, and certainly something made by professionals instead of a teenager). Cora herself, at least for their one night out, wears her beads braided into her hair. I hate to blame the victims here, and while Cora’s daring display isn’t without a point—it represents a certain naïve, teenage sense of indestructibility—I couldn’t help feel that our characters were being dumb just to move the plot forward.

Speaking of superpowers, I also felt that the Mementi were lacking. Instead of the oft-used trope, Cursed with Awesome, the Mementi seemed Blessed with Suck. Sure, they can remember everything, but since their memories are stored in the Link beads, and missing such beads can lead to lost memories and psychosis, I’ll stick with my boring Populace genes and keep my memories in my unreliable head. When it’s so easy to refer to the Internet for answers (not that it’s always reliable), a perfect memory seems less valuable than it may have been decades ago.

Despite being annoyed at the above, I decided to just finish the book, and I’m happy to report, it paid off. The book turns around at approximately the 40% mark, and delivers a lot of interesting twists and turns, and insight into why the talents of the Mementi may be admired. For one, Mementi memories can live on via the Link beads even when the Mementi are dead—this provides a measure of immortality (please note that the following quote is from an ARC and is subject to change):

“This is our cemetary,” I said, my words echoing. “The memories of those we love are stored here with their ashes after they die.”

The Unhappening of Genesis Lee also demonstrates how fragile our lives can be, however, when so much of our lives is dependent on memory. Not just our own, but how others perceive us.

Even with all the interesting questions raised, this book could have unraveled a lot of its progress with a typical happy ending. Instead, however, The Unhappening of Genesis Lee is not afraid to explore our deepest fears; it refuses to hand us any easy answers. It also trusts in human perseverance enough to make us work for what we want. It’s just hopeful enough and cynical enough to make this one of the more interesting young adult reads released this year.

I received a digital review copy of the book via Edelweiss, courtesy of Sky Pony Press.

Review: http://bennitheblog.com/bookbiters/th...
Profile Image for Luise.
348 reviews
February 16, 2017
This book has an interesting construct of a future society. I don't think I read about externally stored memories before, so it was nice to experience something new.

The story was quite exciting, never got boring and had some great turns and not too predictable revelations.

I also liked the characters. Especially the fact that Genesis is not one of those awful teenage-heroines that tend to make only stupid decisions. On the contrary, her actions mostly made sense.

The ending was a little too hmm... not really open... 'not enough' maybe. Could have been a little more, I guess.
Profile Image for Jessie Humphries.
Author 6 books168 followers
January 24, 2014
I read this book as a critique partner, and loved it. I can only imagine how much more awesomer (great CP, right) it is now that it's been through agent and editor revisions. From the fascinating and unique premise to the characters worth falling for, this book is definitely worth a read :)
Profile Image for Jessica (Goldenfurpro).
893 reviews253 followers
June 14, 2015
This and other reviews can be found on The Psychotic Nerd

I received an ecopy of this book via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

There are so many great things about this book!
The most interesting aspect of this book definitely has to be the idea.
This book revolves around a society where people's memories are kept in Links, which are beads that people generally wear as necklaces or bracelets (as the memories only stay with you if you touch/wear them). This allows them to remember everything vividly. These people are called Mementi. Then there's Populace, who are, essentially, average people. Their memories are kept in their brains are, therefore, thought to be dumber and many live in poverty because they cannot get the Mementi jobs.
Meanwhile, a thief is stealing Links, leaving the victims without any memory of who they are. And it is thought to be Populace, because Mementi are obviously too nice to do that to one of their own.

See how unique this idea is! I've never read a book anyway like this and I was amazed in how much thought was put into this society. And that's not even all if it! There's so much more in the book that I can't tell you about! And the mystery involved in the story, along with the unhappening, kept me glued to the pages.

Besides the amazing storyline, I loved the characters. Specifically I loved how our main character Gen, changes throughout the book. I also loved Kalan, who is such an amazing, nice guy. Another pro: There is very little romance! So, the storyline actually dominates the book!

My only issue with this book is how strange and crazy this book got. I'm sorry if I'm being vague, but no to spoilers! I don't know why, but I begin to lose interest towards the end of the book, mostly because I thought things were taking a weird turn. I was also not a fan of Gen's parents. Her parent let her have her own opinions and care also about how it reflects on them. They also go way too far in this book!

If you're looking for a very unique, original book with a bit of mystery, look mo further! This was such an interesting book! Sure, I had issues with the end, but it's still a really great book!
I will definitely be on the lookout for more by this author!
Profile Image for Janae.
60 reviews6 followers
September 29, 2014
Long story short: fantastic story, frightening problems to face, real characters, an exciting don't-put-it-down read!

ARC to the rescue! I couldn't have waited until this book was released, anyway!

Where do I start? How about—coolest. plot. ever. And genuinely frightening. Uncontrollable loss of memory...it's your worst nightmare, but you just didn't realize it until reading this. There is nothing worse than losing your memories because it's a loss of LIFE. Time that you can never get back. It's especially fearsome when you don't know why it's happening. The Unhappening of Genesis Lee...the perfect title, holy cow.

And every time Gena wakes up and you know she'd forgotten things...UGH! My reader's dismay was seriously intense. It was frustrating and heartbreaking every time it happened. Have you ever wanted to talk to the characters in a book and say, "No, Honey, lemme tell you EVERYTHING you need to know!" but you know that you can't and it drives you to keep turning the pages until you know that it's all going to be okay? Yeah. So I had a very difficult time putting this one down.

The characters were engaging. They were real, and I loved them. Plus, this was the coolest and most heart-wrenching, gut-wrenching relationship arc. Because truly, what could you do if someone you were falling for was someone you couldn't remember the next day? Or to be the forgotten one...just twist the knife, why don't you? :) No fair, Ms. McArthur. But oh! so! GOOD! Yet more reasons why I couldn't stop reading until it was done.

Definitely don't wait to read this book. And then read it again (like I did).

Profile Image for Shannon (It Starts At Midnight).
1,189 reviews1,018 followers
February 21, 2015
Well, well, this was quite the pleasant little surprise! I was almost afraid to read this one, because I didn't know if the whole "memory link" thing could be believable, but it was. The idea of the Mementi having to literally guard their memories as they wore them on their body was unique and frightening, but explored quite well!

What I Liked:

Genesis and Kalan The main character, Genesis (who often went by Gena) is likable, but flawed and often has a bit of trouble thinking and acting for herself. I can relate to this, and she is able to summon courage often, so I enjoyed her growth. Sure, she makes some bad (even dumb) decisions, but so do we all. I like that in a character, much more than I like a perfect character, so this worked quite well for me. Kalan was an amazing romantic interest, and definitely the most likable character in the book. I wasn't sure if the Christianity stuff would bother me (it has a tendency to get preachy in some books) but it absolutely was not overbearing- it was quite simply just a character trait like any other, which is incredibly refreshing to see. I loved that the author was able to make it a part of who he was, but not at all his whole identity.
The Family Stuff I should kind of rephrase this, because I didn't like Gena's family. I quite disliked them in fact, especially her complete ass of a father. They were all so concerned with appearances and being socially acceptable and how Gena's thoughts or actions would affect them with absolutely no concern for Gena herself. And she was so used to this that it was incredibly hard for her to break out of the status quo. It's infuriating, but all too real. I loved that not only was it an involved family, but an involved family that had issues.
The Mystery Come on, who doesn't love a good "whodunnit"? I seriously didn't know, though I kept having theories and guesses (most of which were wrong, until closer to the end). It was exciting, and the stakes absolutely couldn't have been higher- memories and brain functions and such? Yep, kind of important!
It made me think. During the book, I kept asking myself "What makes us us?", since the book obviously delves into the roles memories play in our functioning, and in our humanity.

What I Didn't: 

Not much! My only real complaint about this book was the end. Not the actual last few pages, but last few chapters/plot sequence. It got a bit cumbersome, and there were times that there was so much going on that I kind of had no idea what was happening. It was full of action, but maybe a little too much action. The pace got a little fast and I had some trouble keeping it all straight.

Bottom Line: It's a win for me. I enjoyed the story, cared about the characters, and aside from a bit of an overload at the end, it was overall quite good! The ending left room for a sequel, but certainly didn't require one. Certainly a book to check out!

*Copy provided for review from publisher via Edelweiss
This review was originally posted on It Starts at Midnight
Profile Image for Karolyna.
163 reviews
August 11, 2018
You know that feeling when you're walking and you think you see a shiny toonie but when you go to pick it up it's actually a bolt or a button and you just feel this overwhelming sense of disappointment? YA WELL THAT'S ME MY FRIENDS.

Where do I even begin with this book of overwhelming disappointment? Not only was the plot so basic and so predictable, but Genesis Lee (the MC) was annoying to the point of "shove my head in the oven" in Glory O'Brien's History of the Future. Like wow. I didn't think this book would let me down so hard. The whole story idea behind the book sounded amazing, but little did I know that this book would turn out to be trash.

So let's start off with our MC, Genesis Lee. Not only is she an annoying, selfish, stupid brat, but she's also a character with absolutely zero qualities. Other than the fact she's lost her memory like 4 times throughout the book, which was annoying as fuck if you ask me, but the reader was also forced to believe that she was some kind of special diamond and that everything that was going on in her world was because of her, which news flash, it wasn't.

Honestly, getting eaten alive by an anaconda would have been more pleasant than to deal with Genesis Lee's shit. A pineapple would have figured out the plot 700 times faster than it took for her to figure it out. And just like in Treasure Island
all the characters were so bland and I literally couldn't even give half a shit for any of them. If the book ended with a nuclear bomb falling on their city and wiping away the entire population, I would have been as happy as a child on Christmas morning. This book was torturous.

To be honest, the only reason I gave this book 2 stars was because there was like 2 pages that talked about the Bible and that was lit and there was also a mention about a crow and who doesn't love crows? Honestly, why wasn't the whole book about that crow. A Bible reading crow..... Guys I might have just discovered something.....
Profile Image for Zoe.
215 reviews1 follower
October 24, 2022
4.5 stars
Such an interesting story where enhanced dna humans walk along those who have traditional dna. This story takes adventure and craziness to the next level. It definitely shows what power can do to you and really makes me thankful we do not have anything like this. These type of books really amaze me as they are so creative and interesting.
Profile Image for Jenni Elyse.
314 reviews69 followers
February 4, 2017
I thought The Unhappening of Genesis Lee was a bit frustrating at times, but I still enjoyed it. It had a very intriguing and interesting premise that kept me reading to the end.
Profile Image for Cali Bakker.
74 reviews1 follower
December 31, 2017
What a fantastic read! The characters felt real and the plot/conflict was interesting and thought provoking. Definitely a book to read when you have binge reading time because you will not want to put it down!
Profile Image for Valerie.
393 reviews169 followers
February 20, 2016
Thank you to FFBC for providing me with an ARC for the blog tour!

There's a lot to be said about The Unhappening of Genesis Lee. It's one of those books that sticks with you for awhile simply because our main character has the ability to remember everything with the help of her "links". But then on the other hand, because of that, plus the added romance and huge plot going on for the book, everything seems a bit disorganized and half-developed.

So before everything gets confusing, let me lay out the basics of the setting:
- The population is divided into two groups, the Mementi (people, like Genesis, that remember everything through their "links" because they're brain damaged), and the Populace, who are normal people that have normal memory.
- Due to the transfer of bad genes, some people can't hold memories in their head. That's why there are these little stones, called "links", that store the memories for them. This way, when they need to access a memory, they access it through the link itself
- If someone steals their link, they lose ALL of the memories inside that link. This becomes a huge problem in the book
- Also, apparently the Mementi can't touch each other because then they'll accidentally share memories with one another.
- And of course, the Mementi and the Populace hate each other.

So what exactly is The Unhappening of Genesis Lee about you ask? Well it's about science. And deception. And the ethics of research on BRAINS. Definitely up my alley since I'm majoring in the field. Unfortunately, it didn't really meet all my expectations, but I did like the concept of it.

Our main character, Genesis or Gena for short, lives a pretty perfect life with her family, until her friend loses one of her links while they were out clubbing. This means the last two years of her life are gone until she's able to recover her missing link. But this isn't uncommon. Apparently there is a link thief out there, and Genesis makes it her job to find out who stole her best friend's memories. She even goes as far as to team up with a Populace boy. gasp.

As much as I loved Genesis and her beautiful brain of permanent memories, I didn't really connect with her much. Same with the love interest, Kalan. It felt like the romance itself wasn't needed in the plot, but was just put in so that it could fit the mold of a YA. However, putting that aside, the mystery of who was behind the huge "master plan" kept me reading. There weren't any twists, but I couldn't correctly guess who the culprit was until it was finally revealed to me.

Unfortunately, there was a huge problem with The Unhappening of Genesis Lee that really, really bugged me. And this is probably only because I know a lot about brains and neurons. Since the story takes place in our future, I wasn't a fan of how the Mementi came to be (if you read on in the book, you learn that it's due to . The situation, and the ending itself, felt so unrealistic, because I just don't see how the scientists were able to research the Mementi brain, and come to conclusions so fast. The brain is so interconnected, that to me, it just seems extremely unrealistic. I know this is categorized as science fiction, but with the explanations so incomplete, I was left unsatisfied.


So yeah. Overall, I did enjoy The Unhappening of Genesis Lee (such a long title haha), but I wish there was just more to it, but then less at the same time? Does this make sense? I just felt that too much was crammed into this standalone that most of it wasn't developed completely.
Profile Image for Nicole.
636 reviews263 followers
November 11, 2014
The premise of this book had me in some chills. It's weird enough to have photographic memory (as awesome as it'd be there are so many drawbacks), but being able to have your memories stolen? That's just creepy--especially since you wouldn't be able to know what memories were stolen or even that they were stolen. The entire concept of The Unhappening of Genesis Lee appealed to me and when I got a chance, I downloaded it and read it practically the same day.

The science part of this book is absolutely fantastic. I'm not exactly the greatest with grasping these concepts, but McArthurt manages to write it in a way that I both understood and sounded real enough to actually be plausible. It's absolutely fascinating how the author was able to create a world like this with all it's intriguing technological advances and that she was able to get all the technicalities so that the world is detailed enough to give us both the origins, it's history, and it's intention. (And the idea of links and memory conductors? Wow. There are special touches throughout the book, especially the Memorium, that just fleshed out the world all the more--so kudos for those little things!)

The plot was amazing. I will admit there were a few times the pacing let me down and I didn't exactly have the best time in the slow parts, but when Gena was prowling the streets and searching for the Link thief, things got interesting. There were conspiracies and personal issues floating around, not to mention the fear of getting her own memories stolen (which, by the way, was definitely an interesting topic in the story.) I was definitely caught up in the mystery aspect of the story and was on the edge trying to figure out who it was. (I had many theories. Many many many, but they were all wrong. Either I'm losing my touch or McArthur is good.)

As for Gena, I didn't really feel like she stood out in the crowd of YA heroines, but that doesn't mean to say I didn't love her! She was an amazing character who was determined to break out of her shell and one who did steadily grow as the story progressed.
The rest of the characters never seemed as fleshed out to me and seemed more like plot devices rather than characters, so they were a bit flat. However, I did like what personality they did have (and I do appreciate McArthur's attempt to get a range of personalities in there! It just seemed like too many in too little time.)

Romance-wise, this book wasn't insta-love, I promise. The romance isn't even a really prominent part of the story but her and Kalan's relationship was definitely adorable!

Would I recommend The Unhappening of Genesis Lee? Yes. It was a fabulous and quick read (that, actually, I read at 3:30 AM) and I adored it! It did have it's flaws, but the story was definitely an intriguing one that had me on my toes (and had me by the heartstrings at the ending!)
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Profile Image for Pam C.
974 reviews16 followers
October 8, 2014
*ARC received from publisher via Edelweiss

Whew, that was intense! I really enjoyed this unique and creative book about genetically altered humans with memory links who are called Mementi (the regular population is called Populace). Mementi can remember every second, including feeling the emotion, tasting what they were eating, etc. They wear their links and there is someone stealing the links, which means they don't have those memories. Years, even their whole lives, can be taken. Then Gena starts losing specific memories and the mystery deepens.

I was a little confused in the beginning about whether the Mementi had a choice in being this way, why they would do it when they were so vulnerable, although that was answered later on in the novel. I do wish that had been made clear earlier. Obviously there are benefits to being Mementi. For example, instead of going to school 8 hours a day they go for only 4 hours, absorbing informational memories. They see themselves as better than the Populace, because Populace memories fade every day, every minute, while their memories are whole and complete forever.

I also wondered about romantic relationships among the Mementi because they completely cover their skin since they can't even touch another Mementi or they will swap memories. How does that work then?

I liked the relationship that develops between Kalen and Gena, and I felt so bad for Kalen when Gena didn't remember him and they had to start over. How frightening to lose days of your life, to have met someone and formed a relationship and then not remember them! I found the whole concept to be fascinating, especially the fact that even when the memories weren't there, the feelings were but there was nothing to attach to them.

Engrossing sci-fi mystery, I couldn't put this book down.

For more reviews see (YA) Escape from Reality
Profile Image for Lekeisha The Booknerd.
936 reviews107 followers
December 5, 2014
A very interesting book, to say the least. It’s original and makes you want to read on and get to know this world and it’s inhabitants. The main character, Gena, is one of the Mementi- a group of genetically enhanced humans. They rely solely on their links (bracelets) to remember everything. Well, someone is now stealing these links and lives are lost.

Firstly, this concept intrigued me to no end. I’m actually glad that I read this, as I’ve never read this sort of science-fiction before. Genesis, or Gena for short, is dead set on finding out who is stealing memories and the lives of her people; especially after losing her best friend. She meets Kalan and they set out to find the thief. Kalan swears that they’ve met before and Gena soon realizes that her memories are fading. Who is behind the mayhem?

The world building and character development are great. Especially Gena’s. She starts off as your normal, everyday teen. When things take a turn for the worst with her people, she is ready to fight demons to catch the thief and regain her memories also. There are plot twists all throughout the book that I didn’t see coming. The pacing is average for this genre. I’m glad that it wasn’t too slow or fast, but just right. If you are looking for your next YA Science-fiction/ Dystopia read, then I would recommend this book.
Profile Image for Anastasia.
186 reviews49 followers
November 27, 2014
А ведь я хотела поставить 3 звезды...но нет, не дотягивает. Все же 2-2.5 звездочки

Чудеса, я ее даже не долистала, а дочитала, хотя и не надеялась на такое. Как обычно: хорошая идея, но не шибко хорошая ее проработанность. Множество типа объясненных моментов, которые на деле совершенно нелогичны и непонятны. Дурацкие и дико бесящие герои, да к тому же главными героями я и не прониклась совсем. Понравилось, что автор неплохо показала изменение героини от надменной, недалекой Мементи к более адекватной девушке, хотя и с такими заморочками, которые я не в состоянии переварить. Не самая плохая книга, но если времени маловато, тратить его на нее не стоит.
Profile Image for Padders.
215 reviews6 followers
May 30, 2021
The Unhappening of Genesis Lee had some really great ideas which I thought were unique and interested (enough to get me to the end) however I found it really muddled and hard to keep up. The characters felt quite shallow and I dont think I really knew who they were even by the end of the book. It definitely had some Christianity vibes with the preacher and while I have no issues with that, it doesn't really reflect my beliefs and my thinking so those scenes I feel didnt add anything for me personally.

I definitely have read worst debuts and i would even consider reading another book by McArthur in the future however this one just didn't quite do it for me.
Profile Image for David King.
Author 5 books44 followers
November 4, 2014
Turn a concept that's as intricate and mysterious as a memory and change it to something tangible and everlasting, with a caper thrown in, and you have The Unhappening of Genesis Lee. Just the thought of losing your memory is scary, so when there's a society who can store their personal memories in jewelry, which can be easily stolen like any other item, it makes McArthur's sci-fi concept even more terrifying. The solid pacing, likable characters, and excellent psychology made this a blast to read.
October 30, 2014
This was a fantastic debut Novel. I am very excited to see what else Shallee McArthur writes. I don't want to give any spoilers because this book is a must read! My Wife was lucky enough to win an advanced reading copy of this book, so I got to read it before it hit the shelves. It comes to stores in November, and I hope it does really well. Hands down the best book I've read this year.
Profile Image for Jenna.
1,615 reviews15 followers
October 31, 2017
I don't know how to rate this book. For me the world building made no sense and I almost gave up reading this book, but I liked the characters and the development of the main character and in the end I'm happy that I read this book.
Profile Image for Chantele Sedgwick.
Author 7 books347 followers
November 10, 2014
This book was SO unique! So many twists and turns, a great mystery, awesome characters and a great concept. Read it!
Profile Image for Madeline Worcester.
234 reviews2 followers
June 13, 2020
REVIEW: The Unhappening of Genesis Lee, Shallee McArthur
RATING: 3.5/5 stars

This novel was a roller coaster to say the least. I'll admit that the text was far from perfect, but as far as YA Science Fiction is concerned, it wasn't too bad. The writing was more colloquial than I prefer in novels; however, the pacing was actually decent and the instances of Genesis losing her memories were pretty well-timed. My feelings on the plot as a whole - along with a few other factors - are pretty mixed, though. With that being said, I wanted to break down what I liked and what I didn't about this book.

Memories are a huge part of my own life. I spend a lot of my time pining over the past Gatsby-style and considering what it would be like to relive certain points again. For some individuals in The Unhappening of Genesis Lee, they truly can relive their memories, emotions and all. This fantastical world contains humans split into two categories: your average, everyday people and Mementi, a group of humans who store their memories in little beads made of different materials. The beads are worn physically but are covered for fear of others stealing or viewing their memories (Mementi can access the memories of other Mementi by touch). The book's premise is that someone is stealing memories and Genesis "Gena" Lee witnessed the culprit in action, stealing from her best friend no less. The problem is that, for the first time in her life, she can't remember. When your life is defined by perfect memories, the loss of even a second is worth mourning, as you can image.

I was impressed by the way McArthur tackled trauma and despair, and that extends far beyond just losing the beads. I personally wasn't fond of the way she wrote panic attacks/anxiety symptoms, but her discussions on abuse, PTSD, and touch aversion were strong and actually pretty emotional to witness. The characters were not super likable, but I will give Kalan and Gena this: they set boundaries like pros. As the book progressed, you could really see Gena diving into herself with deeper and deeper monologues about the significance of living and remembering. It made me contemplate much of life on my own.

One other standout factor that I liked about this book was that McArthur's science behind their Mementi technology was shockingly very sound. Gena treats Kalan a bit like an idiot when delivering explanations, but I suppose I shouldn't be so critical of a YA novel where much of the target audience probably hasn't taken college biology yet. Gena was definitely smart without falling too hard into the "I'm not like other girls" narrative, and the author implemented actual consequences that didn't magically disappear. After most of the Mementi have their memories of Genesis wiped, things don't magically return to normal! No Disney poof-ed up "happily ever after" here; Gena has to work for it, and although we only see a glimpse at the end, it looks like she is more than up for the challenge.

Of course, I can't ignore some of the more lackluster portions of Genesis Lee's tale. As previously mentioned, some of the writing style is too casual for my taste, but that's not to say whether it is good or bad. The end was a tad bit rushed but not unbearable. Some scenes were a little hard to follow merely from lack of location description; on more than one occasion, I had to read through a passage three or four times to determine where the group was going. Additionally, even though I liked the Kalan/Genesis relationship enough, it was pretty much like any other YA novel where the protagonist is crushing in five seconds or less. At the same time, I've definitely seen worse love arcs in stories.

My biggest complaint of the entire book was the lines from "In Memoriam" at the beginning of every chapter. As soon as I opened the book and viewed the first passage, I wasn't sure how to feel, but I agreed to a temporary ride on the Tennyson train. Then chapter two started with another segment and I was already groaning. For those of you who didn't suffer alongside me in Victorian Literature, "In Memoriam" is a long series of poems written by our main man Alfred Tennyson. Here's the thing: Tennyson's poems are about the death of his friend *cough* homoerotic lover *cough* and they are extremely emotive, yes, but the language is also extremely formal. I understand why McArthur made the connection and decided to ultimately include the lines, but the voices of Tennyson and McArthur do not meld together well.

Overall, this book is probably a great read for sci-fi-loving teens who aren't pretentious English nerds and who'd fall for any love story handed to them on a platter. Otherwise, if you're giving The Unhappening of Genesis Lee a read, push past the beginning for the meat of the story and I think you'll be pleased by some of the moral questions presented.
Profile Image for Leanne.
57 reviews38 followers
September 14, 2023
The Unhappening of Genesis Lee is one of the best sci-fi books i've read this year. The world building was so detailed and intricate without being too over the top. I love how it wasn't exactly explained straight out because the plot just seamlessly unfolds all the answers to the questions you might have at just the right moment. Genesis Lee's world would have been a huge confusing mess if it was written in a wrong way, but Shallee McArthur didn't disappoint.

After the war, scientists invented a drug that would supposedly help PTSD victims store their traumatic memories in a place in their mind where in won't bother them anymore. Things didn't go as planned and people started going crazy because of the experiment and it started to affect their reproductive systems, starting the rise of the Mementi- humans who remember everything perfectly and can share memories with other Mementi through the slightest touch. The Mementi store their memories in Link beads that they wear as accessories on their arms, necks, and for the very daring- hair. The loss of a single link bead can lead to the loss of two years worth of memories.

When a person called the Link Thief begins stealing people's beads, fingers started to point at The Populace- the normal humans whose brains haven't been genetically altered by the drug, causing an even greater strain between the two groups. Interestingly enough, I never found myself favoring one group over the other. The author writes the story in a completely objective manner and shows us both sides of the conflict.

Remember when I said that The Mementi can share memories through touch? Well, reading this book was like having Genesis remove her gloves and grasp my hand, skin to skin. I felt every fiber of emotion she was going through- the fear she felt in that alleyway with Cora, the helplessness when Cora lost her memories, the pain, the anguish, the confusion, the butterflies in her stomach when she started to fall for Kalan, and the ache in her heart whenever she forgot about his existence. I feel her soul when she gets panic attacks, I feel her soul when her parents force her to be something she's not, I feel her soul when she falls in love over and over again- for the same guy.

Genesis isn't the main victim in the book's mystery, but she's stuck right in the middle of it and this is clearly HER story. However, the supporting characters didn't lack strength in their core at all. They were equally as strong and as fluid, especially Kalan. The charming preacher boy's son who is idealistic and brave. Imagine falling inlove with someone, and finding out that they feel the same way, only to have them forget you the very next day. Their romance tore me apart and completely crushed me on the inside.

The Unhappening of Genesis Lee isn't just emotional- it's fast-paced and thrilling, throwing twists at you that you never would have expected. Couple that with seamless world building and strong characters to back a complex unique plot and you're sure in for an adventure of your own.
Profile Image for Melanie Thomas.
274 reviews
May 25, 2020
This is more of a 3.5 star book really, but the ending made me round up to 4 rather than down to 3.

I loved the concept of this book: experimentation on human memory which led to some humans needing to store their memories in inanimate objects and this being passed on genetically to their children. This group, known as Mementi, wear strings of beads on which their memories are stored but someone has started targeting Mementi and stealing their beads, leaving them with no memories or gaps in their memories.

This is a fairly typical YA novel in that you have the main protagonist (in this case the eponymous Genesis Lee, or Gena as her friends call her), a love interest and a villain that they get together to defeat, putting themselves in peril in the process. So far so blah. But there were certain things about this which elevated it above the usual, middle of the road YA. Elements of the plot were cleverly handled to make this a more interesting read and the ending isn't what you'd expect. It'll keep you reading and is definitely worth a look if sci-fi/dystopia interests you.
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