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The Memory Thief

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Twin brother and sister Benji and Kelly wander off at the local county fair after witnessing their parents argue. When Benji runs into a group of bullies, he escapes into a tent called The Memory Emporium, where he meets a strange old man inside named Louis. The old man shows him a magically vivid memory of a fighter pilot, in the hopes of getting Benji to pay to see other memories Louis has collected from people over the years.

Benji quickly realizes the ability to take memories could help his parents stop fighting with each other, and he asks Louis to teach him how to become a memory thief. But Louis isn't the only person with the ability to show and manipulate memories. There's also the mysterious Genevieve, a Memory Thief with much more nefarious motives.

Benji learns how to manipulate memories himself, but having that power comes at a cost to his family, and possibly to his own mind as well. Genevieve's powers get out of control as she steals more and more memories from people in town including Benji s sister, Kelly. Benji must learn to use this newfound power, as he is the only one able to stop Genevieve.

First published March 21, 2017

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About the author

Bryce Moore

7 books90 followers
Also writes under the pseudonym Albert Packard.

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5 stars
34 (30%)
4 stars
38 (33%)
3 stars
31 (27%)
2 stars
7 (6%)
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2 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 40 reviews
73 reviews2 followers
October 14, 2016
I found this book at B&N and bought it based on the summary for my 8 year old. He could not put the book down. He would rather forego bedtime than stop reading. He even told me he has recommended this book to his friends, and for a child who speaks about nothing but soccer and Pokemon, this says a lot about this book. The 5 stars are from him. He insisted that I have to spread the word about this book.
Profile Image for Rabiah.
488 reviews216 followers
May 26, 2017
Originally posted at: https://iliveforreading.blogspot.com/...

It's been a while since I've dived into a middle-grade book with fantasy elements, but wow, this one was fantastic! I had a ton of fun reading The Memory Thief. Not only did it remind me of my middle school reading days, but it also was so captivating that I read it in one or two sittings. I'm so glad I got the chance to read and review this one, and I'm hoping there's going to be more.

Benji was such a great character, and I loved how with taking memories from other people, his personality changed as well. The writing seamlessly adapted his character to fit the situation, and it felt like a natural progression. Kelly was a fantastic character as well–I really enjoyed the sibling (or rather twin) connection Benji and Kelly had with one another. Louis was just this eccentric old man who I couldn't help but enjoy, and Genevieve was this intriguing antagonist, who I will admit, while evil, sounded awesome as a baddie. The only thing is that I wish we had learned more about Genevieve. This book was kind of short, and I wish we'd explored more into her motives as a "villain" in this story. I mean, you do get some sort of explanation and exploration of her life at the end, but I felt like that could have been examined more.

I enjoyed the novel's concept. The idea of memories and being able to see other people's memories and taking them, borrowing them, etc., is something I actually haven't come across in middle grade or young adult literary fiction until now. The closest, I think, would actually be Roald Dahl's The BFG, where dreams do play a large role...but they aren't the focus of the story. Anyway, obviously memories play a large role in this story and

A fun adventure that readers of all ages will enjoy, The Memory Thief was an action-packed story about a boy trying to save his family and the rest of his town, whilst trying to adjust to his newfound skills in memory navigating. While this worked well as a standalone I'm secretly (well, not so secretly now!) hoping that there will be a sequel, or even a series. Don't miss out on this one!

▪ ▪ ▪ Thank you so much to Hayley at Sunshine Sachs for sending me a copy for review! ▪ ▪ ▪
1 review
September 20, 2016
Couldn't put it down! Benji's encounter at the fair got him entangled in others' memories -- and the reader will similarly get caught up in this engaging novel. Loved the "mind" descriptions, storyline kept my interest. Conflict resolution rang true. Youngsters will love this book!
Profile Image for Sarah Monsma.
164 reviews5 followers
August 2, 2016
When Benji meets Louis, a man who can not only read people’s minds but who collects and shares memories with others, he is intrigued, but when he hits upon the idea of removing some of his parents’ memories in order to stop them from fighting he becomes just a little obsessed with the idea. Benji brings his twin sister, Kelly, into the plan, but things begin to go downhill fast, because Louis is not the only memory thief at the fair, and, it turns out, there’s little honor among memory thieves. Soon Benji has a lot more responsibility than he bargained for and a whole town to save.

The Memory Thief is an intriguing and fast-paced story that will suck readers in. It’s full of the kinds of questions and yearnings that intrigue middle grade readers. What if you could experience other people’s exciting adventures? What if you could erase that embarrassing thing you did from everyone’s memory? Would it really be as if it never happened? Middle grade readers will love this fast-paced tale and, as I did, enjoy thinking about the complications of erasing knowledge and experience from the minds of others.

I received an advance reader copy of The Memory Thief courtesy of Adaptive Books in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Logan.
1,273 reviews34 followers
December 18, 2017
I think I will read any book that Bryce Moore publishes. They are clean, inventive, and entertaining. This one surprised me on another level, dealing with the very real and sobering situation of parents who are angry at each other and plan to divorce. It was handled very respectfully and not superficially at all, I don't know how you would even begin to do that.

The story focuses on a young boy who gains the ability to experience other people's memories, and even steal them. What kind of consequences could that have? Can he use the abilities to stop the woman terrorizing the town? Hilarity (and seriousness) ensues.
Profile Image for Heidi.
2,610 reviews52 followers
February 7, 2017
Review coming after Cybils Elementary/Middle Grade Speculative winner announced.
Profile Image for Rachel.
Author 12 books37 followers
April 21, 2018
3.5 Stars

While I had a hard time engage with this book, I thought it was an interesting idea, I loved how the main character grew and came to understand the importance of memories and the appropriatness of not messing with people's minds, and the ending. Through trial and error and seeing his own mistakes, he comes to realize that you can force a change or just take something from someone, even if you think it would be for the better. You can't just go for an easy fix. I loved how the story portrayed how important memory and experiences were. Watching the character grow and come to a deeper understanding of what was happening and the world and choosing to face it was great. The characters were sympathetic and understand able, even the villain in the end. I especially like the last two chapters that really brought everything together, especially the lesson of the story. My critism of the tail would be how dark it could be. One example early in the book was when the protagonist had a dream where his sister was strapped to a table screaming while her memories were taken from her and he was tied to a chair bleeding. That just seems really dark for a middle grade novel (but I'm running into more and more like this) and the description really wasn't more graphic than what I just wrote. While on the back of the book it gives the age range of 8-12 years old, I wouldn't hand this book to my 9 year-old nephew. Also, there were moments that seems more skimmed over than engaged in so it felt like you were experiencing it with the character but more like the character was just telling you the story and I'm not fond of that type of writing. I would like to see it happen instead of being informed about it. But, I will say there was a great moment when Benji took too much anger and you could really feel it in the story and the suddenness it was gone and came to understand what memory thieving cost someone. That was really well done. I also laughed out loud when I saw the board game thing coming and really appreciated it because I work in a game story. This book was insightful to the impact of memory, our and other rights to their experiences and understanding of the world and standing for what is right even when you don't have a chance of winning. A well told tail, but maybe for an older audience that the suggested one on the book.
1,069 reviews7 followers
January 26, 2017
My name is Benji, and I didn't mean to become a memory thief. My parents were fighting again at the fair, I was being chased by bullies, and I ducked into Louie's tent to get away. Louie is a memory thief, and he already knew what I was thinking and even put one of his memories right into my mind! He warned me to stay away from a lady with tattoos, but I didn't listen. She showed up, my twin sister forgot who I was, and then Louie died right in front of me! Before he died, Louie put all of his memories into my head, which is how I became a memory thief. Now, the lady has ruined my parents' and sister's memories and the memories for most of the visitors to the fair. I tried stopping her once but failed miserably. She says she'll fix my family if I give her all of Louie's memories, but I can't trust her. She'll just erase my knowledge when she gets the chance, and then who'll be left to stop her?

This book is a finalist for the 2016 Cybils Book Award in the category of Elementary and Middle Grade Speculative Fiction. The conflict was imaginative, and Benji soon understood the consequences of his new power. He wanted to erase his parents' memories of fighting with each other, but he realized those memories helped to create their personalities. He felt guilty about visiting people's memories, but he temporarily overcome that when things got serious. The author added an additional problem through whispers. Benji heard them whenever he was thieving memories, and their power almost trapped him. He is a very likable character and displays admirable qualities. He is caring for others and even has compassion for the women causing him problems. He wants to help his family with its problems, but he doesn't want to change his parents or sisters. A important moment occurs when he's trying to help his twin sister. He learns how others may have totally different points of view for the same events. A very valuable lesson indeed! I highly recommend you give this book a read.
Profile Image for Jennifer Collins.
Author 1 book26 followers
August 19, 2022
I'm a sucker for speculative stories that feature concepts related to memory, and this book didn't disappoint. Moore's storytelling and worldbuilding here were fun, fast-paced, and so shot through with moments of horror and reality that I couldn't help being addicted to the story nearly from start to finish.

There are very adult themes and concerns here, though, and in a lot of ways, the story choices left me somewhat unsurprised that I've barely heard or seen anything about this book, much as I enjoyed it. It was stuck in some land between middle grade and adult in a lot of ways (no, I'm not saying it was YA at all, but that it employed a somewhat adult mindset and story told through a MG lens), and I could see it being too much for some middle schoolers, while leaving others unengaged. That said, the magic and mystery here were fantastic.

Perhaps the one flaw was that only the main character and the villains felt as fleshed out as I really wanted the characters to be. That said, there is an argument to be made that the parents, based on the very nature of the story, were necessarily made flat when they were on the page (I can't explain this without spoiling the story, I fear, but I think you'll see what I mean if you read the book). That being the case, this review is tougher to write than some would be, but I do think the proof is in my end feelings: I'd pick up another MG by Bryce Moore in a heartbeat.

Profile Image for Bethany.
Author 20 books92 followers
June 7, 2017
THE MEMORY THIEF follows Benji, who has to save his family's memories before it's too late. It's an entertaining light read that is perfect for fans of middle grade fiction.

In THE MEMORY THIEF, Benji and his twin sister Kelly attend a fair with their parents. To escape the fighting between his parents, Benji runs off and finds himself at the Memory Emporium. It's a place to buy and sell memories and is run by an old man named Louis. But Louis isn't only there for business. He's searching for a fellow Memory Thief named Genevieve. Louis warns Benji that she can't be trusted.

When Benji and Kelly hear their parents state they're getting a divorce, they feel the need to take action and return to the Memory Emporium to find a way to take the anger away from their parents. But instead of Louis, they find Genevieve. Genevieve steals Kelly's memories of Benji and net, his parents. Louis passes his ability onto Benji and he's the only one who can save his family and his town.

Final Verdict: This was an entertaining, well-writting, original book and it's perfect for ages eight and up.I would recommend it for those searching for a good, easy read.
Profile Image for Valerie McEnroe.
1,406 reviews45 followers
August 20, 2019
If you're a person who loves carnivals, especially the fortune teller tent, this book is for you. Twins Benji and Kelly are at the carnival when Benji slips into a side tent where a man claims to exchange memories. He lets Benji experience one new memory for free. Benji is hooked and convinces Kelly that they need to get their parents in there. They are divorcing and Benji thinks if he can wipe out his parent's negative memories of each other they will stay married.

Unfortunately, the tattooed woman Benji was warned about is working the tent instead. She's not like the old man. She's willing to harm people in order to get the best memories. The next thing he knows his sister can't remember him. When he finally tracks down the old man, he quickly teaches Benji how to give and take memories. What he learns is that it's better to leave well enough alone.

It's an interesting enough book. It's a "what if" book. What if we could get rid of all the bad memories in our brain? Would we be better off? The answer is no. My biggest problem is that going into someone's brain is a confusing affair. I didn't quite get it.
Profile Image for Becky.
Author 3 books1 follower
June 10, 2017
Awesome ideas and themes in this book! And the author sounds like a great guy. My only critique of the book was a big one: the narrative voice. The kid stressed me out with all his high anxiety and indecisiveness. There were times he went back and forth so much it grew frustrating to read. Though the storyline justified his high-anxiety, I would've loved to have had the author somehow incorporate a witty sidekick to break up all the tension and anxiety, rather than the reader being stuck in this stressed out kid's mind. But, I do recommend the book and would totally read another book by this author.
Profile Image for Jamie.
350 reviews5 followers
June 30, 2017
That was a fun, quick read. Super quick for me, but middle school was a long time ago.

I really liked the description as "Inside Out meets a modern Something Wicked This Way Comes [...]."
I completely understood Benji's feelings about his family having gone through a divorce as a child myself (though my experience was somewhat less horrific). This is exactly the kind of power I would've imagined and wanted back then. Heck, I finished the book and I still kind of want to, in spite of the obvious message.
Profile Image for Beth.
3,025 reviews13 followers
February 26, 2018
A timid boy has to step up to save his family when a wicked magician steals their memories. I liked how Benji had to work at courage especially once he loses the support of his more assertive sister. I didn't like how often the plot turned on luck -- Benji worked hard to untie himself, but the final confrontation relied on chance. And the cascade of final revelations unbalanced things a bit. But the theme of memory and identity gives meat to the adventure and I bet kids would enjoy this.

Set in Maine.
6,802 reviews24 followers
July 29, 2019
Some people are able to steal memories. They are the Memory Thieves and the main character meets a master thief at the local carnival. Twins Benji and Kelly are worn out from how often their parents fight and argue. They run off to explore the carnival and Benji meets Louis, a master Memory Thief. He works against a second memory thief to save his family's memories and the town.
Plenty of action though much of it is mental.
Profile Image for Susan.
907 reviews65 followers
February 21, 2018
I enjoyed this fast-paced MG novel about the importance of memory. The characters aren't anything special -- they're not very fleshed-out or that interesting -- but the book's premise is intriguing, the plot moves along quickly, and, although it features more telling than showing, the writing is better than expected. Overall, it offers an enjoyable and thought-provoking story.
Profile Image for Suey.
815 reviews190 followers
December 31, 2017
What happens if you go to the fair and find a dude that can give and take memories? And what if that dude has an "apprentice" that's gone bad and wants to steal everyone's memories? Including your family's? What then???
Profile Image for Emily.
626 reviews
January 18, 2020
Billed as Inside Out meets Something Wicked This Way Comes, and that's actually pretty accurate. I kind of loved that, since losing or gaining memories dramatically changes a person, the ability to hand-wave moments that were out of character or unbelievable was built into the plot.
Profile Image for Audrey B.
3 reviews
June 22, 2019
You never knew what was going to happen specificity but you knew it was going to be awesome.
Profile Image for Dani Walters.
108 reviews1 follower
June 22, 2019
There wasn’t anything wrong with this book, it just didn’t super interest me.
21 reviews
October 8, 2019
It's a good plot. The writting is a bit blank. No surdisticated sentences. But besides that, it was a very entertaining book and I enjoyed it.
Profile Image for Travelmaven.
412 reviews6 followers
August 20, 2020
Read before donating to classroom. Lots of topics to discuss with kids.
Profile Image for Samantha.
2,886 reviews9 followers
November 11, 2016
An excellent tale about the power of memories and how they make us who we are.
Profile Image for Amber.
316 reviews5 followers
August 31, 2020
A really fun idea, fast plot, and good characters. Couldn't ask for a better Saturday read
Profile Image for Laina SpareTime.
478 reviews19 followers
December 30, 2020
Cross-posted from my blog where there's more information on where I got my copy and everything.

While it's not going to be in my top ten or anything, this is a solid little book that I didn't really have any problem reading. It's not over the top wow amazing, but it's perfectly serviceable, and an enjoyable read. I definitely think there are things it could have done better, and I'll get into those things, but it wasn't bad by any means, and my feelings in general are satisfied. Let's jump into the rest of the review.

Plot Talk: The plot is a very strong part of the book. There's tons of action, but time for quiet moments, and it doesn't lag at all. It's described well in the summary so I'm not gonna repeat that, but the plot works well for the genre and the age it's aimed at. The only thing I kind of wish was that more of the plot had been propelled by Benji's mistakes, and not just his sister. It feels like Kelly spends a lot of time holding the, if you'll excuse the ableism in the expression, Idiot Ball, and a lot of the book's plot is Benji fixing her mistakes. Considering her character does very little to actually advance the plot in the book, it's not my favourite thing.

Characters: The plot complaint pretty much holds up here. I wish Kelly had had a little more character than just, you know, a Living MacGuffin, since she doesn't do anything besides get the plot going by being reckless and messing things up. While the villain is female, and that's neat, there's not a lot here for sympathetic female characters. Honestly, I really wish the author had gone for duo POV alternating between Benji and Kelly. It would have been really interesting to show more of the story, and would have given Kelly a larger role in general.

Benji is fine as a character and as a narrator. At times I thought his voice didn't ring entirely true in a "kid" way, but for the most part it was fine. Honestly though he's pretty standard fare for white boys this age in this genre. There was nothing I hated about him, but there was also nothing I found really exceptional or super special. He definitely could have been a little more interesting, or different in some way, but he's fine.

PG-13 stuff: I actually think some of the stuff of Benji and Kelly's parents fighting could be upsetting to readers who have had parents fight like that. It's pretty true to reality, and some of the things Benji's dad says and thinks are really out of line and honestly a little misogynistic. I found it a little uncomfortable. There's also a little violence (not from the parents), but nothing extreme.

Cons, complaints, bad stuff, etc.: I think I covered it? The voice doesn't always ring entirely true for a kid and I would have liked more agency from Kelly. The book is also super white, completely straight, lacking in any kind of real disability rep, and the only fat characters are unsavory characters who are quite negative. It's very... standard, honestly.

Cover comments: Great cover! It's very colourful and vibrant, and actually shows a scene that happens in the book. I loved that as a kid, and still think it's nifty.

Conclusion: I don't think this blows other books in the category out of the water, but for the most part it's fine. I adored the descriptions of the memories, and over all it's got kind of an Inside Out meets the Giver thing going on, minus the dystopia. It's a fun book, and I think kids would enjoy it. Not much more to it than that! Three out of five roses.

- I could make a metaphor out of how Benji acts when he takes his parents' memory of anger being like what happens when kids are expected to handle adult issues. It's clever.

- Benji and Kelly's parents expect them to use payphones instead of giving them cellphones because they worry about the kids getting in trouble online or something. One, you can get cellphones designed for kids that have limited features. Two, there are parental controls in general. Three, where are these magical 2016 payphones??? I found it bad enough when they were magical 2009 or 2011 payphones, but 2016? I don't understand this.
2 reviews1 follower
September 22, 2016
I was drawn to this book by its premise more than its genre, as I generally don't read many middle grade fantasies. It takes a mature idea--how memories shape our identity--and gives it a clever hypothetical scenario readers of all ages can relate to. Who doesn't have memories they would like to forget or replace with something better? What would be the cost if we could? Imagery I loved in the book: the nostalgic excitement of a county fair in a small town, memory libraries as actual rooms that differ from person to person. The story takes clever turns with just the right amount of creepiness and humor, and then keeps your mind engaged even after you finish. Happy to recommend it.
Profile Image for CT.
75 reviews
December 15, 2016
I was provided a review copy by Adaptive Studios through Edelweiss, and since my pre-teens and I enjoy reading MG fiction together, I gladly agreed to share my thoughts.

First of all, this book does not shy away from describing the brutal impact of divorce on young children. The arguments and yelling that the main character clearly overhears from his parents are shared as an everyday occurrence in their household, including the parents’ discussion on divorce proceedings. The main character (Ben) and his twin sister also reference other divorces that they have known about from their classmates. So, while the offer of the “memory artist” would have been an excellent springboard for a fantastical MG adventure, Ben chooses instead to request that his parents’ memories be altered with the hope of preventing a divorce.

Wow, that alone squeezed my heart and elevated my respect for middle grade kids. They are more emotionally mature than we give them credit for. I know that teens in general are egocentric by nature, but so are we as adults, especially if we refuse to work things out within a difficult marriage.

Of course things go downhill pretty fast. That’s what happens when we mask the truth, or when we build upon a lie. Stealing memories is basically laying a foundation of untruth. But this is what made the story crazy entertaining and stressful at the same time. Things got really sticky and complicated, and it took a lot of storytelling talent and maturity for the author to keep everything tied together and sensible. The story ends with a satisfying ending.

Honestly, I previously thought that nothing can beat the concept of a pensieve (Dumbledore’s version of a basin to store random thoughts and memories). However, the prospect of trading, bartering, loaning, or exchanging memories among various people kind of trumps the pensieve.

The storage place doesn’t have to be an object, it can be other people’s minds! Of course, a disaster will ensue, but the concept is fascinating and intriguing.

This was a great read that can be enjoyed as a family. It provided for a meaningful discussion afterwards.
Profile Image for Jessica.
1,159 reviews81 followers
September 26, 2016
Well now, this was fun! I'll spare you my standard spiel on how important I think MG fiction is, and just tell you straight out that this book is going to appeal to a lot of young readers. It's intriguing, fast-paced, and actually rings true to real life despite its premise. What if you could share other people's life experiences? Would you take that opportunity? What if you could actually take memories away from people? Is that okay, if they won't remember and it might improve their lives? So we come to the complicated web of morality that Benji must face, all while still being a kid.

It should be known that I have a soft spot for male protagonists in MG fiction, because I truly think we need more of them. Benji is the perfect example of an impressively drawn main character. At the heart of it all, he's simply a young boy who is motivated by his desire for his family to be happy again. Which means, of course, that he doesn't quite stop to think of what the consequences of his choices might be. After all, it's for good reason. Right? Then Genevieve comes into the picture and shows Benji that the power he hoped to use for good, can also be used for nefarious purposes. There's so much wrapped up in here. The importance of family, the concept of honor, dealing with deception, and even a healthy does of conflict resolution. Definitely a lot for a young reader to soak up, and yet it's all tied up in a perfectly action-packed story line.

Honestly, that's all I can really say without accidentally spoiling anything. This is a quick read, that's really enjoyable to get lost in. In my opinion, it's just about perfect! I have no doubt in my mind that there are a lot of young readers out there who are going to have a blast devouring this. Rest assured though, that The Memory Thief is one of those books that easily transcends age groups. If you, like me, love reading MG? This book definitely deserves a spot on your reading list.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 40 reviews

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