Book review: Nemesis by Brenden Riechs

  • May. 6, 2017 12:30 a.m.

Nemesis by Brenden Riechs

YA Fiction

Published: March 21, 2017, Penguin Young Readers Group

Melina “Min” Wilder is a teenage girl who has been haunted every two years on her birthday since she was eight. A strange man wearing a suit and glasses finds her and murders her. Whether it’s throwing her off a cliff or bashing her skull in with rock, he never fails to show up and do the job.

And as if that isn’t horrifying enough, what happens next is even more disturbing—after dying, Min always finds herself waking up again, alive and whole, in the same spot in the middle of the woods of her small rural Idaho town.

The first time it happened, she simply walked home to find that only a few hours have passed since her death. During that time, all evidence of her murder has been erased.

The second time it happened, the town psychiatrist diagnosed her with a dissociative disorder. She was prescribed medication that she has been taking every day for the last six years, but the mysterious suited man still always shows up on her even-numbered birthdays and kills her. As Min goes through her everyday life, she makes sure not to tell anyone what happens — after all, no one believed her as a child, so why would they believe her now? But she’s still stuck dealing with the confusing situation that she finds herself in every other year. While she has been seeing a psychiatrist and taking medication for this for years, she knows that all of this is real, even if no one else believes her.

Through Min’s POV, readers meet Noah. As the son of the richest man in town, Noah appears to have it all: money, good looks, and popularity. However, the truth is that despite being surrounded by friends, Noah is often emotionally aloof, quiet, and generally unassertive. The complete opposite of Min and her best friend, Tack.

Publicly, Noah puts on a stoic face, but privately he is haunted by nightmares of violence and death. For almost all his life, his father has been telling him what a weakling he is for not being able to overcome the hallucinations and bad thoughts in his head. After so long, Noah has even started to believe that he is useless and weak. When his jerk friends start bullying Min and Tack, all he can do is stand silently by and watch, too timid to speak out against Ethan, the leader of the popular kids.

When things start becoming a little too odd to ignore, Min and Tack break into her psychiatrist’s office. There, they find a file called “Project Nemesis.” Min discovers that not only does her psychiatrist have a special file on her, but another one – Noah. It appears that Noah also gets a visit from the man in the suit and glasses. He and Min also share the same birthday.

While all this craziness is going on, the earth itself is facing a huge problem. At the beginning of the book, readers are made aware that earth is in danger of being in the direct path of a huge asteroid hurtling through space. While Nemesis was definitely an intriguing read, I couldn’t help but feel there was too much going on in the plot, what with Min and Noah’s conflict then add in an asteroid… it was just too much. The book ends with an explosive conclusion that doesn’t answer many questions but will leave plenty of room for the story in the sequel.

Kirsten Lowe is studying at Athabasca University.

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