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Literature / Damnatio Memoriae

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"No one wants to be forgotten."
Albertson to Enim.

Damnatio Memoriae is a Young Adult Psychological Thriller and Coming of Age Story by Laura Marcelle Giebfried. It focuses on Enim Lund, a seventeen-year-old boy whose only goal is to finish his last year of school and forget the tragedy involving his mother the Christmas beforehand Ė a feat that should be easy given that he attends Bickerby Academy, an all-boys boarding school on a remote island off the coast of Maine. His plans are thwarted, though, when a teacher vanishes without explanation and a local girlís body washes up on shore. With all signs pointing to one of Bickerbyís students, Enimís best friend Jack Hadler convinces him to investigate the crime.

As Jack becomes more and more obsessed with finding the killer, Enim finds himself consumed by his own responsibility in the accident that befell his mother, and neither can seem to find a way to acquit himself for the crime. It soon becomes clear that there are worse things than not solving the crime: itís doing so but having no one believe you.

Damnatio Memoriae contains examples of:

  • Cassandra Truth: Suggested when Enim and Jack realize that a number of local girls who ran away have actually been murdered by someone on the island. Of course, given that they're constantly up to trouble and Jack has a reputation for thinking up wild conspiracy theories, they know that no one will ever believe them. To make matters worse, after Enim thinks he finds solid proof that they're right, he's diagnosed with schizophrenia, and even the reader can't be sure whose version of events is true.
  • Coming of Age Story: It follows Enim Lund as he is rather forced to leave the last bit of his childhood behind.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: A large part of the story is the reader waiting to find out what happened in Enim's past that had caused him to become so withdrawn and troubled. It's then revealed that his mother jumped off a bridge, survived but is now in a vegetative state being kept alive by his uncle, and Enim could have stopped her. Oh, and she had schizophrenia and Enim most likely has it, too.
  • Foil: Enim Lund is introverted, non-confrontational (usually) and cautious compared to his unrestrained and careless friend Jack.
  • Go to Your Room!: Inverted. Karl wishes Enim would come out of his room.
  • Hope Spot: This happens to Enim near the end of the novel when Enim finally thinks he has found the killer after Jack has been accused and driven away from the island. But then the author throws in a major Mind Screw and things go From Bad to Worse from there...
  • Meaningful Name: The protagonist's name is 'Enim,' which is 'Mine' spelled backwards. His mother had attachment issues...
  • Mind Screw: The ending (and, to some extent, the middle) is this. What starts off as a seemingly straightforward mystery throws in twist after twist, getting stranger and stranger until the ending where Enim is diagnosed with schizophrenia which means that the actual events that he narrated are greatly questioned to the extent that we don't know if he really killed the murderer, or if he killed one of the only people who went through such lengths to understand him and help him. Worse, he doesn't seem to know, either.
  • Serial Killer: Enim and Jack are searching for whoever has been killing local girls in the town outside of their boarding school. Enim thinks he finds the killer, but given that he's an unreliable narrator, it's hard to know what really happened.
  • Title Drop: The Latin teacher, Albertson, explains that "Damnatio Memoriae" means "condemnation of memory", which becomes ingrained in Enim's thoughts as an explanation as to why no one else seems to notice the disappearances of numerous girls on the island.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Enim Lund. Not only is it difficult to know if he's being entirely truthful because he's known to feel guilty about certain events involving his mother (and thus he 'remembers' them different ways), but he is also diagnosed with schizophrenia at the end of the first novel making it difficult to know what really happened and what didn't. Still, the author makes it unclear as to whether he really is unreliable, or if he's reliable and no one believes him.