Reset, by Sarina Dahlan, is the kind of book that catches your attention right from the start. In many ways, it feels like a book that belongs in the company of some of the best YA what-ifs scenarios, like The Hunger Games or Divergent. It’s both borderline absurd and yet both totally plausible and incredibly interesting — because that’s what the best dystopias are. Hard to believe and yet scary because the same part of you that doesn’t get how the world could get there is also able to see the path towards, perhaps not the same world, but something just as bad.
But Reset doesn’t stay just in the dystopia, like the best of the genre, it uses the dystopia that, in many ways, feels like a possibility, to build not just a story, but characters. If we cared about the aforementioned books, is because, even at their worst moments, we cared about Katniss and Tris. Reset manages to make us both care and suffer because of the fact that we do. We are, after all, losing the thing we care about. That’s the basis of the book.
Who are we but our memories? What kind of things are intrinsic to us, and how much of who we become depends on our experiences? These are big questions, and Reset doesn’t have the answers — doesn’t even pretend to — as much as it wants us to consider the question at the center of its story — and come up with a specific answer in regards to these characters. If, while we’re doing that, we find some answers about ourselves, well, that’s just a bonus.
Firmly YA, Reset, however, feels almost like a physicological thriller in some ways — and a horror story in others. Is there anything scarier than the idea of losing yourself and having to start over, not just with life, but with the process of creating who you are? I’d almost take the Hunger Games over this, because even if the odds are never truly in your favor, at least there are odds. This is just a new beginning, over and over again.
There’s a certain appeal to that idea, especially as it relates to some people, some prejudices. But overall, when everyone loses together, it’s not just the bad that disappears, but the good. What holds more weight? What’s easier to get back? We might all have an answer, and the book certainly has its own. But Reset is, in many ways, a tale about how that answer evolves, just as it is a story about the things that make us, well us.
Reset is probably not the journey you’re expecting, and in many ways, that’s good. But Reset is also, in a lot of ways, exactly the journey you think you’re getting, exactly the journey the book promises. And that’s also a really good thing.
Sarina Dahlan’s Reset is available wherever books are sold. You can read the synopsis below:
Can you love someone you don’t remember?
After the Last War destroyed most of the world, survivors form a new society in four self-sustaining cities in the Mojave Desert. In the utopia of the Four Cities, inspired by the lyrics of “Imagine” and Buddhist philosophy, everything is carefully planned and controlled: the seasons, the weather—and the residents. To prevent mankind from destroying each other again, its citizens undergo a memory wipe every four years in a process called tabula rasa, a blank slate, to remove learned prejudices. With each new cycle, they begin again with new names, jobs, homes, and lives. No memories. No attachments. No wars.
Aris, a scientist who shuns love, embraces tabula rasa and the excitement of unknown futures. Walling herself off from emotional attachments, she sees relationships as pointless and avoids deep connections. But she is haunted by a recurring dream that becomes more frequent and vivid as time passes. After meeting Benja, a handsome free-spirited writer who believes his dreams of a past lover are memories, her world is turned upside down. Obsessed with finding the Dreamers, a secret organization thought to have a way to recover memories, Benja draws her down a dangerous path toward the past. When Metis, the leader of the Dreamers, appears in Aris’s life, everything she believes falls to pieces. With little time left before the next tabula rasa, they begin a bittersweet romance, navigating love in a world where names, lives, and moments are systematically destroyed.
Thought-provoking and emotionally resonant, Reset will make you consider the haunting reality of love and loss, and the indelible marks they leave behind.