Tell Me An Ending is based on the idea of memory deletion and the various ways it could be used throughout society. I love speculative fiction, and the idea of parallels with Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind brought this to the top of my list very quickly. If you delete a memory, how does that work for the people around you? How would you feel being offered the chance to bring back something you wanted to forget forever? And how much can you trust a decisions you made years ago?
Jo Harkin brings Nepenthe to life by dropping the reader straight into a new world on page 1. We begin with Noor, who interviews customers for Nepenthe to gather information after their memory deletions, and Louise, a doctor who performs the initial psychological assessments. The story also follows four main characters who have been impacted by memory deletions.
The reader gets to know more about each character, but crucially not their reasons for deletion. This brings a better understanding of the complexity surrounding their choices when they are offered the opportunity to restore a memory that had been deleted. On a very basic level this appears to be a simple yes or no choice, but as we learn each character’s fate we realise how complex the moral dilemma really is. The procedure they opted for meant that even the deletion itself was kept a secret from their future selves, so the choice of yes or no could impact the rest of their life, and those closest to them in unknown ways. Exploring the importance of memory in identity, grief, and relationships; Tell Me An Ending brings some big themes to an accessible sci-fi thriller.
On the surface the premise of Nepenthe may seem appealing; helping people to delete the memories that are harmful to them. But dig a little deeper and Jo Harkin exposes the reality of the dystopian world that comes with it.
Tell Me An Ending will be published on May 12th. Get in touch with your local independent bookshop to pre-order!