As a dystopian series, The Meme Plague has enough going for it to outweigh the weaknesses. Most importantly, this series is not a romance novel masquerading as genre fiction, instead focusing on world building and issues very closely linked to the evils of the current political system in a far too close and possible future. I've enjoyed the whole of the trilogy, as quick reads that break from some of the common YA tropes.
For those who are unfamiliar with this series, here's a quick overview of the dystopian world of the Memento Nora trilogy. TFC, a corporation with strong ties to the government, runs clinics that help people forget their problems. Psychiatrists and pills are no longer needed to deal with traumatic events or emotions. PTSD no longer need affect soldiers, because these clinics can erase those memories, leaving the memory empty of the events that were disturbing the psyche. In Memento Nora, a group of kids came to suspect that TFC may not be on the up and up, instead using the clinics to control the population.
What endears this series to me most is the inclusion of both diverse and GLBT characters. In both cases, they are included without pomp and circumstance. Being a lesbian or being Asian/black/hispanic does not define these characters, but is merely one aspect about them. So rarely does this happen in young adult fiction and it thrills me any time I find that. Often, these characters end up being token or stereotypes or such a deal is made about them that it ends up stressing that they're weird when they're not. Angie Smibert does a great job making the cast of the trilogy as diverse as the world I'm used to living in.
The series has an entertaining, fast-paced plot. There are explosions, kissing, concerts of rebellion, legal battles, skateboarding, and attempts to overthrow the political system. All of the books are quite short, and I think this is an excellent series for reluctant readers interested in dystopian fiction but overwhelmed by the general offerings, which tend to be closer to 400 pages. In The Meme Plague especially, I was reminded of a less complex Little Brother, so it really could be a nice transition into the genre for younger or reluctant readers. The Meme Plague also brings the series to a satisfying conclusion, closed enough but also left open in a sort of traditional dystopian way.
What Left Me Wanting More:
Where the series has been and continues to be weak for me is in the characters. They're fun and entertaining, but there's a large cast and I have trouble telling their narrative voices apart. Told in first person from five perspectives (I think), if I didn't pay attention to the opening of each chapter which listed who the narrator was, I ended up having to flip back to do so. Still, I was able to remember each cast member and how they were all connected without too much trouble, even though I scarcely remembered the previous books, so that was nice.
The Final Verdict:
All told, I recommend the Memento Nora trilogy highly to younger readers looking to transition to young adult fiction or reluctant readers in search of good, shorter dystopian novels.