Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Tabula Rasa

Kristen Lippert-Martin
Fiction  Series
For ages 12 and up
Carolrhoda L, 2016   ISBN: 978-1512426298

Sarah is in a hospital where she is having harmful memories removed from her brain. She has been told that she is suffering from PTSD, and that once the memories are removed she will be able to begin her life anew; she will be a tabula rasa, a “clean slate.” What Sarah does not know is who she really is, what she did before she came to the hospital, and why she is suffering from PTSD. Was she a victim of some kind or the person who perpetrated a crime?

While Sarah is going through stage six of her treatment - when another hole is drilled in her skull and needles are probing her brain - there is a temporary power failure in her procedure room. While the lights are out someone comes into the room and puts something into Sarah’s hand.

Back in her room Sarah discovers that she has been given three pills with instructions to take each one exactly twenty-four hours apart. She also finds out that someone has been in her room and has placed a set of clothes under her bed. Though Sarah has no idea who has done these things for her, she takes one of the pills and dresses in the clothes. Then all hell breaks loose. Someone is attacking the hospital, and so obeys her instincts and she runs.

While bullets fly and rockets crash through walls, while patients and hospital staff die, Sarah makes her way through the hospital, looking for a safe place to hide. Though she does not know where the hospital is exactly, she does know that it is in the mountains, and that a fierce blizzard is raging outside. Going out and trying to make her escape simply isn’t an option right now.

Trickles of memories begin to surface in her brain as Sarah does her best to stay hidden from the soldiers who are searching the hospital. She knows that they are looking for her and that a woman called Hodges is in charge. At one point Sarah is almost caught but she manages to escape and follows a teenage boy into a building. Not knowing who he is she punches the boy. It turns out that he is not one of Hodges’ soldiers. In fact, he is a hacker whose father was hired to ‘acquire’ all the research and patient files from the hospital’s servers. When he has finished his appointed task, the boy announces that he is going to the yurt that serves as his temporary home, and he reluctantly agrees to take Sarah with him.

In the yurt Sarah finds out a little more about the boy, and more of her memories start to return. Then something extraordinary happens. The boy, when he sees the wings tattooed on Sarah’s back, identifies her. Sarah is “a legend,” a whistle blower who made it her business to expose a government scandal, bringing down a sitting senator and two White House advisers in the process. Soon after the scandal was brought out into the light of day, Sarah, or Angel as she was called by her fans, disappeared. Even though Sarah’s activities caused quite a stir, were they enough to justify someone putting her in the ‘hospital’ so that her memories could be destroyed, or is something else going on?

Sarah then learns that the pills she was given reverse the damage done by the procedures she was subjected too, which is why some of her memories are resurfacing. If she takes the three pills as directed she should be able to repair what the doctors did to her brain. The problem is that one of the pills was damaged during her escape from the hospital and Sarah therefore needs to find another pill so that she can complete the cure. There is only one thing to do. She is going to have to go back into the hospital, where soldiers and Hodges are still looking for her. What Sarah does not know is that in the hours the follow, the secrets of her past will be laid bare and she will face an enemy who is bent on getting rid of her once and for all.

This gripping story is full of twists and turns that will keep readers on their toes. The author deftly peels away layers of story until all is revealed and we come to fully appreciate what has happened to Sarah and to the other people who are in the hospital.

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