New York City’s spirit has been crushed. People walk the streets with their heads down, withdrawing from one another and into the cold comfort of technology. Teenagers Mal and Laura have grown up in this reality. They’ve never met. Seemingly, they never will.
But on the same day Mal learns his brother has disappeared, Laura discovers her parents have forgotten her. Both begin a search for their families that leads them to the same truth: someone or something has wiped the teens from the memories of every person they have ever known. Thrown together, Mal and Laura must find common ground as they attempt to reclaim their pasts.
Karp debuts with a dark and often technophobic thriller that falters a bit with its premise, but nonetheless entertains. In the near future, after a terrorist attack has increased human isolation and dependency on corporations, two teens become the victims of a mysterious entropic force that causes people to be forgotten by everyone who has known them. Mal, 17, has led a tough life, living in foster care and taking out his aggressions in the boxing ring, while Laura's suburban life has been generally happy. As both are cut off from family and friends, they get pulled into a conspiracy involving a government agency, a hidden office building, and powerful mind control. Karp ably ratchets up the suspense, but the book's final revelation defies even generous suspension of disbelief. That stumbling block as well as the chaotic ending would be relatively minor if not for the frustrating second-half prominence of obnoxious and a consistently dislikable schoolteacher, who drags down every scene he's in. Mal and Laura's adventure and romance is still compelling, though, for those who stick with it. Ages 12 up.