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Reviewed by JC Minnaar for Readers' Favorite
The Memory of Sydney by J.A. Hailey, the 7th book of Chronicles of a Stolen World, follows the aftermath of the nuclear bombing of Sydney, Australia. Sydney is no more. Burned to ash and radioactive dust. However, it's not just the 'real' world that deals with the aftermath. All the virtuals born in Sydney must process the loss of their families and, more importantly, mothers--the most important being in a virtual's life--that were murdered during the nuclear bombing. The virtuals arrange a real-world mass wake for the lost and stumble upon a frightening anomaly in their own world--a dormant, in the process of being born, lost their mother during the bombing. Without a mother, what will become of the wandering, desperate child?
J.A. Hailey's The Memory of Sydney blew me away like the nuclear bomb on Sydney. As a big fan of The Matrix, I thought the setting of an underlying, 'living' virtual world was executed astonishingly well. The thought processes, the psychology, and skillfully conveying that virtuals only mimic humans were mind-blowing. There are plenty of unethical deeds done by the virtuals where I had to remind myself that they aren't human and live by their own parameters and laws. Even so, some of these virtuals also displayed loyalty, love, and more humanity, in some cases, than real humans. I especially praise J.A. Hailey's masterful, organized writing that never left me confused throughout multiple body-sharing virtuals. The Memory of Sydney's quality and depth of world-building make me regret not following the books that came before.