Sunday, October 4, 2015

Book Review: Anterograde by Kallysten

When Calden wakes up – every time he wakes up – the last thing he can recall is a debilitating headache that even his medical background failed to identify as anything more serious than a regular headache. He also remembers his decision to ignore the fact that his best friend Eli is married and to tell him about his long-standing feelings for him. He remembers June second.

But it is not June second anymore. The tattoos on his arm and chest prove it. They also tell him why he doesn’t remember anything past June second… and why Eli sleeps in his bed now.

When Calden wakes up – every time he wakes up – he gets to discover Eli is in love with him for the first time all over again.

Todd’s rating:

I genuinely enjoyed this story, which was originally released in mid-2014, but seemed to go largely unnoticed despite very good reviews and user ratings.

No, the story is not overly sexy or overtly affectionate, but the one thing sets this book apart from so many others is that it is extremely unique.

At 35, gruff, short-tempered and brilliant surgeon Calden Hayes developed an undiagnosed case of encephalitis, which wiped out his ability to retain new memories.

So every time that Calden went to sleep, his brain completely reset itself to the day that the encephalitis sent him into a coma. All memories after that date are simply gone.

Upon waking from the coma, Calden's best friend and fellow doctor, Eli Wright, was by his side and fully committed to helping Calden live his life as fully as possible, which required that Eli move into Calden's home.

Calden begins keeping a diary to help him acclimate more quickly each time that he awakens, followed by a series of tattoos, in his own handwriting to convince him that certain facts are true. Undeniable.

The main drama in the story, other than the obvious effects of Calden's amnesia, was the romance between Calden and Eli, which began after Calden's illness.

You'd think that a person's brain fully resetting every time they slept would prevent such a relationship entirely; however, Calden was in love with Eli before his illness, so those feelings experienced no such reset.

So confessions of feelings were divulged, and immediately reciprocated, which leads to more tattoos. I loved the use of the tattoos as both a reminder and an affirmation.

And as difficult and frustrating as the entire experience must have been for Eli, I was impressed by how his character coped with those feeling, always putting Calden first. Because, love.

The story was told from an alternating point of view, which I enjoyed, so we were in one MC or the other's head throughout the book, but, thankfully, the guys actually spoke their thoughts to one another, too. Characters that continually repress tend to make me nuts, so the openness was a nice change.

There were only two niggles that I had with the story:

First, the story takes place in a city under siege by demon attacks. Uh, huh? The talk of paranormal beings was fairly irrelevant to the story. After all, the reader never *sees* a demon on-page, not even once, in the entire story. I found that odd and the demon plotline unnecessary, for me at least.

Second and more importantly, the story takes place from June through November; however, the alternating POV chapters were told in opposing orders. Calden's experiences were told beginning to end, while Eli's were relayed from end to beginning.

It was very bizarre and slightly confusing, as the reader was provided with links at the end of each chapter to allow the book to easily be read in *chronological* order, if so desired.

In retrospect, I probably would have read the book by order of date for a more straight-forward read. Yes, it sounds bizarre and it kind of was.

But the book was well-written, smart and often funny, greatly enhancing a truly unique story, so this one rates a solid 4 stars for me.

My copy of the book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair, unbiased review.

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