Review: Tabula Rasa by Kristen Lippert-Martin

September 10, 2014 3 stars, Book Review 17 ★★★

Review: Tabula Rasa by Kristen Lippert-MartinTabula Rasa by Kristen Lippert-Martin
Published by Egmont USA on September 23, 2014
Genres: Science fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 352
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher

*This book was provided by the Publisher for review. No compensation was provided and all opinions are strictly my own.

Sixteen-year-old Sarah has a rare chance at a new life. Or so the doctors tell her. She’s been undergoing a cutting-edge procedure that will render her a tabula rasa—a blank slate. Memory by memory her troubled past is being taken away.

But when her final surgery is interrupted and a team of elite soldiers invades the isolated hospital under cover of a massive blizzard, her fresh start could be her end.

Navigating familiar halls that have become a dangerous maze with the help of a teen computer hacker who's trying to bring the hospital down for his own reasons, Sarah starts to piece together who she is and why someone would want her erased. And she won’t be silenced again.

A high-stakes thriller featuring a non-stop race for survival and a smart heroine who will risk everything, Tabula Rasa is, in short, unforgettable.


So many things I liked and so many things I hated in Tabula Rasa. Really, I think it was more on the lower side of a three since the bad outweigh the good, but hell, it wasn’t too bad for a read.

Lets talk about the hates:

1. I’m not a huge fan of the writings style. There’s a lot of unusual descriptions like:

“Her voice is like a razor blade covered in nectar” (58) and “A sickening pool of dread rises and soaks through me” (170)

That and there’s a crap ton of telling the readers rather than showing them. Which I never go crazy for. I like coming to conclusions on my own by the character’s actions or decisions. We are told her feelings about certain situations instead of seeing her act those feelings out.

2. This also makes it hard for me to believe the character’s choices that they make in the story. At times, it can be really inconsistent and confusing. And the dialogue! There’s way too much of it and I can see some sarcasm/humor trying to be attempted but it all fell flat for me. Much like the love interest and the semi-romantic relationship.

3. The male MC is a damsel in distress. Need I say more? No strong male characters.

4. There are events in Tabula Rasa that don’t make a whole lot of sense and didn’t even have a purpose. I could literally cut them out of the book and there wouldn’t be much of a difference. Those could have been taken out in order to help the worldbuilding and plotholes…because let me tell you, that needed some work.

Will try not to say much about that for keeping this spoiler free.

5. Lots of racism toward Mexicans. Only a minor issue for me as it didn’t bother me most of the time, but I sure as shit noticed it.

6. There is essentially very little worldbuilding, which can be a good or bad thing, but in this case with the ability to take away memories or get them back through pills is a pretty big deal. Why was a hacker hired to steal this special project? Why was Sarah so special to begin with (not explained)? What “word” did Larry have to say to make her “access all of her abilities” (ALSO not explained)? Was it because she somehow “played dead” twice in one book without anyone noticing?–my believability is out the window at this point.

7. The ending was horseshit.

Okay, okay, time for the likes:

1. I liked the characters and the complexity of their background stories. Sarah was a strong character that’s easy to connect to and keep reading on for. She finds herself through her memories and I felt right there with her learning new information along the journey.

2. I liked that they all have troubled pasts and that each character has their own story to tell.

3. Not all the dialogue was bad, I really enjoyed some of the exchanges between Sarah and Pierce and their relationship (even though I thought got worse as they started some sort of “I love you” assery toward the end) was really nice to see play out.

4. I looooove the ideas behind this story. I just wish there were more explanations. The idea of memory loss and taking away memories is something that I find very intriguing. I also liked the PTSD aspect (taking away the painful memories of war). That’s something that I would love to see in a sci-fi as well as in the real world itself.

“The procedures have taken away these men’s ability to remember, which is to take away their ability to grieve, which is to take away their ability to love” (224).

5. There are some really good twist in this story, that I can proudly say, I didn’t see coming. And I love it when that happens.

Overall: Tabula Rasa is not a bad read, just one with more cons than pros for me at least.

17 Responses to “Review: Tabula Rasa by Kristen Lippert-Martin”

    • Kat

      Some things are real deal breakers for people. I know a friend who didn’t like the way Mexican’s were stereotypical and portrayed badly in the book and she drew the line there. The strong female and male characters (at least one in a book) tends to bother me a lot too. But the writing in this one was a particular no-go for me.

  1. Lily

    God i love the plot and idea behind this one so just that alone makes me want to give it a go! While I understand the problems you had with this one I still think i’m going to give it a try and see how it works for me! Thanks for sharing 🙂
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    • Kat

      And thank YOU for commenting 😀 I do hope you enjoy it. It’s definitely a very fast-paced read after the first 25% or so…lots of action and learning new things and whatnot, just don’t expect all the questions to be answered and you’ll be on the fine side.

  2. Lola @ Hit or Miss Books

    I REALLY can’t stand rascism…or homophobism (BTW.) Especially because I was born in Romania and if someone were racist with me here in Canada it would make me feel really bad so I can’t imagine for other people. And, no strong characters? Oh well, let’s take this off from our ”maybe-to-read” shelf (see? there was a doubt in my mind.) Fantastic review, Kitty! And, as for the cover, I find it hidious and cheap and just ugly. LOL
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    • Kat Stark @ NotYetRead

      HAHA LOLA. Well, even the romance wasn’t fleshed out well and I know your a sucker for a good romance. So you probably wouldn’t like this one all that much anyway. In fact, you probably would have rated it a bit lower than me.

      I actually like the cover–I made a sketch of it with charcoal for fun >_> lol. BUT we all have our own taste in covers. Sarah the female MC was a pretty strong character, but the male MC wasn’t for me at all.
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  3. Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

    It’s always kind of sad when a book with a great premise doesn’t live up to our expectations, no? I’m sorry Tabula Rasa didn’t work so well for you, Kat. I devoured it and loved it, but I know what you mean about the writing. I thought it was just original enough to be good… But it has happened that I have just thrown my arms up in the air shouting ‘fuck originality – just write normal sentences, please’…
    Great review 🙂
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  4. Kirsty-Marie

    Ugh, I didn’t like this much either. The whole thing was just…weird, and I spent most of it wondering what the hell was going on (admittedly, I did skip paragraphs after 50% because I was bored) but I just didn’t get it. The romance, yeah, no. And don’t even get me started on Hodges, what was up with that? And the ‘motive’? FLIMSY. And she sounded like a twelve year old. I want to rant again now, haha.
    Kirsty-Marie recently posted…Review: AfterworldsMy Profile

    • Kat

      I kind of want to go look for your review now. I feel like we would have had similar feels because I thought the whole premise was pretty flimsy and disappointing too.

      edit: I couldn’t find your review though :/

    • Kat

      There isn’t any worldbuilding past the hospital…very lackluster and something that I’m never a fan of. The Mexican thing REALLY upset one of my other friends on GR so much so that she gave it a 1. So…yeah, I’d watch out.

  5. Kel @ Booked til Tuesday

    It’s been a little while since I read it, but I really enjoyed this one. It was one of the few things I sped through in the midst of a reading funk. 😉 I kind of remember the racism elements you mentioned, but they never grabbed me while reading; maybe because there was just as much emphasis on the racism from Mexicans against mixed-race? Eh, either way, thanks for the great review! I hope you love your next read more! 🙂
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    • Kat

      Oh, I thought it had some great elements too 🙂 3 is actually a good rating from me. I’m very stingy with my stars. Either way it was an alright read that I can appreciate for what it is. A nice little Sci-Fi YA that I felt could have taken a step further to make better.

      Really glad you enjoyed it though!! I’m always happen when another person loves a book, how could I get upset over that?? LOL

  6. Molly Mortensen

    This definitely sounds like a maybe book to me. (OMG I’ve never spelled definitely right before! sorry, back to comment) and every review I’ve read was about the same, some parts great, some not so good. I hadn’t heard some of your negatives before, so I appreciated that. Since the whole premise seems to center around the removing memories I’m really disappointed that it’s not explained more. Nice review. 🙂
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