You Will Never Be Forgotten Mary South review eARC

(ad, gifted) You Will Never Be Forgotten – Mary South eARC: Review & Recommend | LATEST RELEASES

I was gifted a free eARC* of this book by the publisher, via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

*eARC: electronic Advanced Readers Copy

Title: You Will Never Be Forgotten
Author: Mary South
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Release Date: 6th August 2020
Genre: Literary Fiction, Short Stories

I seem to have a habit of getting attached to the first short story in a collection and wanting to read a whole novel of it, and this was another collection that had me feeling this way. The opening story reminded me of Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. The narrator is a nurse, working in a warehouse full of ‘Keiths’. These Keiths, like in Never Let Me Go, seem to be clones. They are grown in labs, and then are kept alive but sedate, until their organs are needed, and then they act as donors. I thought this premise was really interesting, with the nurse forming a particular bond with one of the Keiths, and I really could have read an entire book based on this premise. But alas, it was only a short story!

Despite this initial attachment, I was still able to enjoy the rest of the collection. All of the stories are quite dark, many of them have a science fiction/dystopian aspect to them, and they’re all really creative and thought provoking. One of the later stories also stood out to me, where the narrator character is essentially an adult fanboy, and is intended as a parody of Star Trek fan culture if I’m not mistaken. The object of his affection is a woman who used to play a character on a science fiction show. The story chronicles his changing perspective of her as she falls in and out of favour with the media. It was an unusual perspective to write a story from, yet the narrator’s thoughts and attitudes towards this female actor (it came across as more towards the actor than her character for the most part) are not uncommon. It was uncomfortable to read this story as a woman, because while I’m obviously not a popular actor (or in fact any kind of actor, or any kind of popular), I know that famous women really are treated this way by the media, and these attitudes towards famous women are also indicative of attitudes these men have towards women in their lives as well.

The things addressed in this collection are incredibly wide ranging. Some (obsession with female celebrity) are closer to home than others (I really hope organ donor clones aren’t real…). This book deals with misogyny, abusive and neglectful parents, the internet age, the after-effects of rape, and, of course, technology. The effects of technology on the way we live is a recurring theme throughout the book, as is the theme of memory. In several stories, characters can’t let go of past traumatic memories, and react in very different, and very harmful ways to both themselves and others around them, aided by modern technology.

You Will Never Be Forgotten Mary South review eARC

Presumably if you’ve already read this far you’ll have gathered this, but this definitely is not for younger readers. One story that I found the most entertaining details the addiction a group of elderly men in a care home have to phone sex lines, and the unexpected effects upon the staff members who start to record these calls for their own amusement. This is a great example of the ways technology impacts upon our relationships with others in negative ways: the care home staff abuse their power, the residents struggle with addiction to technology, and one staff member’s relationship is irrevocably damaged by the practice of recording these phone calls.

These stories, while dark, are certainly not entirely without humour, so if anyone has a dark sense of humour, this is the place to look. South carefully balances the serious themes she addresses with the more humourous element. They are also all incredibly varied, with very different perspectives and voices. The formatting of this ARC wasn’t always the best, among other small things some stories lacked titles. I mention this not to criticise the book — it didn’t really affect my reading experience and I’m sure this will be fixed before publication — but to offer kudos to the author. While the break between stories was not always clear from the format, the setting and voice were always so distinct that I very quickly realised we had moved on. A couple of the stories didn’t quite land for me, but the majority of them kept me engaged, and the writing style was consistently good throughout.

Mary South’s writing is really intriguing, and I would definitely keep an eye out for her in future. You Will Never Be Forgotten is a twisted, moving debut collection, an examination of humanity at its worst.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Check out my “How I Rate Books” post for more information on what the star system means to me.

This review also published on NetGalley, GoodReads, and The StoryGraph.

6 thoughts on “(ad, gifted) You Will Never Be Forgotten – Mary South eARC: Review & Recommend | LATEST RELEASES

    • I have the opposite problem of getting too into them and then they’re gone 😂

      Like

  1. […] You Will Never Be Forgotten – Mary South. 4 stars.I received an e-copy of this book from the publishers, via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.Another short story collection! Again, these short stories are quite dark. I’d describe them as dystopian/science fiction for the most part, with a lot of things left up to the reader to guess, which I enjoyed. Would definitely recommend this to fans of adult sci-fi and short stories! Find a full review on my blog. […]

    Liked by 1 person

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