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Memory of Water (2012)

by Emmi Itäranta

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5303532,745 (3.86)37
The award-winning speculative debut novel, now in English for the first time! In the far north of the Scandinavian Union, now occupied by the power state of New Qian, seventeen-year-old Noria Kaitio studies to become a tea master like her father. It is a position that holds great responsibility and a dangerous secret. Tea masters alone know the location of hidden water sources, including the natural spring that once provided water for her whole village. When Noria's father dies, the secret of the spring reaches the new military commander . . . and the power of the army is vast indeed. But the precious water reserve is not the only forbidden knowledge Noria possesses, and resistance is a fine line. Threatened with imprisonment, and with her life at stake, Noria must make an excruciating, dangerous choice between knowledge and freedom.… (more)
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» See also 37 mentions

English (32)  Finnish (3)  All languages (35)
Showing 1-5 of 32 (next | show all)
5 Stars - I was blown away with the impact of the story and the way it is told. It is set in a future Finland now known as the Scandinavian Union at least several hundred years or more from now. Water is scarce, and this is the story of a Tea Master's daughter as she trains and eventually becomes a Tea Master. That doesn't sound interesting, but the building of the world of the story, the people, and the mystery of the mostly unknown past along with the preciousness of potable water all turn this into a story which draws you in and keeps you turning pages. ( )
  JohnKaess | Jul 23, 2020 |
I went into this book blind, knowing nothing about it other than the title which screamed to me “environmental apocalypse”. That wasn’t far off, although I guess it’s more dystopian than apocalyptic. Water resources are limited as one would expect by the title, and access to them is strictly controlled by the military.

Sometimes these types of books feel tedious to me because they tend to have similar themes and plots. I really enjoyed this one, though. There were some gaps in the world-building that I wanted to see defined more clearly, and there were some plot points that were a stretch, but they didn’t hit any of my particular pet peeves. Since I was enjoying the story so much, I was mostly able to overlook them.

This book has the type of writing I imagine many would describe as “beautiful”, or “poetic” maybe, or some such adjective. That isn’t something I really have a proper appreciation for, especially if the writing is so flowery that it’s not clear what the author is trying to convey. That wasn’t the case here, though. The writing was clear and the story was interesting. I also liked the characters and cared about what happened to them, although I didn’t necessarily identify with all their choices.

This is one of those books where the story begins with the almost-end and then goes back and spends the entire book telling about the events that led up to that point. Since the reader has that end in mind the whole time they’re reading the story, I think most people will know what’s going to happen long before it happens. (The following spoiler contains vague reactions to the end but no specific plot details.) I expected to hate the ending, and it was definitely bittersweet, but I really liked the epilogue which revealed answers I didn’t think we were going to be given.

One great thing about this book was that it was very light on romance. There are some implications of one depending on how you read things, but it’s easily overlooked rather than the author hitting you over the head with it like many do. One can read as much or as little into it as they want to. I chose to read more into it than I might have otherwise because it helped me understand how Noria and Sanja could possibly have been so careless about keeping the hidden spring hidden. I read it as them being distracted by each other, experiencing some rare carefree moments at the hidden spring and forgetting to be careful of the outside world. Their carelessness was one of the more difficult plot points for me, although it was irrelevant in the end anyway. I had more difficulty understanding why the officials didn’t just follow Noria to the spring sooner (or her father when he was still alive) since they knew it was there somewhere.

So I guess it wasn’t a perfect book, but I found it easy to pick up and difficult to put down. ( )
2 vote YouKneeK | Feb 26, 2020 |
Excellent portrayal of a society centuries after sea level rise has reshifted geographic boundaries with consequent change in political rulership. Presumably set in a Finland which is now under the control of a Japanese-like society, access to clean water is strictly rationed, and people scavenge in "past-world" dumps for items to be repurposed.. Noria, age 17, has learned to be a Teamaster under her father's tutelage. A new Water Police suspects him of having an unregulated source of water. After her father's death, Noria now has to make decisions about this secret. This is complicated by relationships with the local villagers, Mikoa, her dear friend, is trying to support her sister & out-of-work parents. Other villagers are suspicious or desperate enough to do anything. Noria is either naturally intuitive or has been well-trained in reading the unsaid motives behind others' actions. She also has a zen-like perspective on life and the choices one makes.
Then ending is not what you'd expect from a usual suspense theme.
Heard as audio book. The reader's rhythm and voice greatly added to feeling like you are in a different culture, where one must weigh the consequences of one's actions. ( )
  juniperSun | Jun 10, 2019 |
I'm speechless.
This book was enchanting. The writing was beautiful and lyrical.
It was pure. ( )
  gwengaudet | May 24, 2019 |
I'm speechless.
This book was enchanting. The writing was beautiful and lyrical.
It was pure. ( )
  gwengaudet | May 24, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 32 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Itäranta, Emmiprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Aleshyn, AndreiCover photosecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Itäranta, EmmiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Johnson, AdamCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
First words
Everything is ready now.
Quotations
The ceremony is over when there is no more water.
Once the silent space around a secret is shattered, it cannot be made whole again.
Of all silences I had encountered this was the gravest and most inevitable: not the silence of secrets, but of knowing.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

The award-winning speculative debut novel, now in English for the first time! In the far north of the Scandinavian Union, now occupied by the power state of New Qian, seventeen-year-old Noria Kaitio studies to become a tea master like her father. It is a position that holds great responsibility and a dangerous secret. Tea masters alone know the location of hidden water sources, including the natural spring that once provided water for her whole village. When Noria's father dies, the secret of the spring reaches the new military commander . . . and the power of the army is vast indeed. But the precious water reserve is not the only forbidden knowledge Noria possesses, and resistance is a fine line. Threatened with imprisonment, and with her life at stake, Noria must make an excruciating, dangerous choice between knowledge and freedom.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Haiku summary
Dystopian tale
With strong environmental
Message: bleak's the word.
(passion4reading)

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