Review: AMANI: Remember by Lydhia Marie


Description:

From the first time Amya gains consciousness in a hospital, she tries to remember the train of events that landed her in a coma, as well as the lost memories of more than eleven months of her life. But her struggle does not stop when she wakes up. The world around her is falling apart. Her best friend Samera needs her help and urges her to work for the Protectors of Amani again and her friend Xander is the victim of a Rascal’s bite. A Rascal only needs to touch somebody in order to feed on their humanity: their energy, their youth, their dreams… But when they bite you, there is no going back. 

Using her ability to Sojourn—to project her soul into people’s bodies—and Samera’s capacity to Travel between Dimensions, Amya risks her life and integrity to save a loved one. Little does she know that her friend might be lost forever.


Review:

What a great read! AMANI: Remember is unlike any book I have read. Author Lydhia Marie gives a new take on dimensions and the effects that the counter parts have on each other. I will not go into that, since I do not want to give any spoilers. Just know it is fascinating. The story starts off a little slow, but picks up quickly and keeps going strong till the end. It is quite a journey. The characters are great. I could just feel their emotions jumping out of the book. I love when a book can make me laugh out loud and feel the characters fear and other emotions. There are some of the characters that just disgust me, but that just shows how well they are written.

Then after all the ups and downs, twist and turns the ending just left me wanting more. So much hangs in the balance, such as love and the fate of the worlds. I can’t wait to see what’s next.

AMANI: Remember starts out with Amya is a coma. At times she is conscious but unable to awaken. After her struggle is won and she thinks all will be well, she finds out that she has holes in her memory and she has to learn to use her abilities all over again. She has friends and family willing to help her along the way, but there is a pretender in her mist. One who not only put her in the coma, but is a Rascal and has a greater agenda. We get to follow these friends across dimensions on their journey to save the ones they love and the world from a terrible fate. Will they prevail or are they doomed?

Except: Read the first two chapters here.

Chapter I

I DARED TO LOOK BACK and could still discern a dark shadow following me, so I pushed aside the sharp pain building in my lungs and head and kept running. I could not afford to risk my life again. This had been going on for two days and I had to make it stop.
To make him stop.
My eyes were blurry from the pouring rain and I felt disoriented, even though I’d been walking these alleys for a couple of months now. Left. Another left—no, right! I tried to remember. Panic was slowly eating the small amount of hope I had left. There was no way I could outrun him.
“Stop, please,” he screamed at me, as if I could ever trust him again.
I knew that my movements were betrayed by the wet thuds of my feet on the concrete. I therefore feinted a right on the next corner and turned left instead, hiding behind a red brick wall. It was Wilf Hall, which meant that I was only a couple of steps from my dorm, Lauritzen Hall.
I waited a few seconds, debating whether I should crouch on the ground until my assailant was gone or keep running and hope to reach my dorm before him. Fighting the urge to surrender, I decided to walk slowly in the shadows of the buildings. I attempted a reluctant step forward, then two steps, but immediately started walking faster and faster, as I feared being intercepted.
And then only my unsteady breath and clumsy feet could be heard against the heavy drops of rain. Where did he go? With no more shouting or running, I couldn’t tell if the man was nearby. Or was he gone for good?
Keeping a good pace, I grabbed my phone and started texting Samera. If anything happened to me, someone had to know. I had barely written two words when the man reappeared in front of me.
              
***
I came to in a spurt of emotions: fear, helplessness, despair.
What happened?
Where is he?
Where am I?
Am I still on campus? I need to leave or he’ll find me!
My mind swirled and the panic gripping at my stomach increased as I tried to move and open my eyes but couldn’t. Why am I unable to do anything? Am I asleep? Or maybe I’m dead. Maybe the dream wasn’t a dream and the man actually killed me and I’m stuck in some kind of purgatory, forever caught in a feedback-loop of memory!
 I could now hear my heart beating in my head and realized that my heartbeat was also mimicked on a machine next to my left ear.
Beep, beep.
Beep, beep.
Beep, beep.
A heart monitor? Am I at the hospital?
Instead of appeasing me, this knowledge made everything worse. I had no recollection of how I could have ended up in a hospital.
Perhaps I’m still dreaming. Why was I feeling dizzy all of a sudden? Was I drunk? Don’t panic, Amya. Calm down, I told myself, which in turn encouraged the irritating noise next to me to grow faster and faster. My head was spinning and I felt nauseated trying to remember what I had been doing the night before.
If my parents see me like this, I’ll be dead for real. Focus,  Amya. Why would you be in a drunken coma?
No memories of overdrinking came to me, which wasn’t a good sign at all. However, a drunken coma was very unlikely, as the only time I ever drank was with Samera when we watched a movie on Saturday nights. And it was only a glass of wine, so there was no way I’d get drunk enough to end up in a coma.
With that hypothesis put aside and with the fact that no one seemed to be threatening me anymore, I soon realized that I was in no imminent danger. The tension keeping me on the edge diminished until my breath steadied and my entire core seemed to relax.
I tried to form rational thoughts.
Something or someone brought me into this hospital and I need to find out why.
My incapability of remembering anything important was soon forgotten when my nose filled with a scent of flowers—lilies, my favorites—followed by a familiar essence of soap and aftershave. I also acknowledged a pressure on my left hand. Was someone here with me?
Again, my heartbeat grew faster and I tried to remove my hand.
In vain. My muscles felt so heavy, as if thousands of rocks kept my body from any movement. Even the tip of my fingers were numb.
“Amya?” someone said. It was a man, but I couldn’t recognize his voice as he merely whispered my name.
Who was this man and what did he want with me?
My thoughts were disrupted when the pressure on my left hand grew a little stronger. It didn’t hurt, though. It was soft and delicate, like a feather going up and down my palm while the rest of my hand was being squeezed. My first reflex was to squeeze back, but my limbs were still frozen.
This person holding my hand, whoever it is, must be here for me, wherever I am. I found the idea very comforting.
You might as well enjoy the feeling, a voice inside my head told me.
And I did. I embraced the relentless movement of the fingers brushing my skin and found myself breathing at the same pace and rhythm as the gentle touch: slowly, like the water of the ocean going up—and down the shore. Up—and down again. And then my heartbeat decreased a little at every movement and my head cleared of any anxiety or confusion.
My eyes were still closed but I could discern a purple spot coming right at me. It grew bigger and larger and I felt myself moving toward something.
Or somewhere.

***
My eyes are open and I am not in the hospital anymore. I am walking in a green and yellow meadow. My sight is a little fuzzy but it gets better every second; however, the sun is so bright that I have great difficulty seeing where to set my feet. I suddenly and unwillingly turn around and look at my surroundings mainly composed of high grass, tall yellow flowers, a few sheep and horses, and forests gathered around treeless mountains. I don’t need a glimpse of what lies behind me because I know that there is a beach and an ocean waiting there. But I’m not going back just now. The day has just begun.
I look down and admire the rays of light on the water left from yesterday’s storm. After a quick look around, I can actually appreciate the glittering droplets, each leaf containing its own rainbow. The smell of the misty nature surrounding me is so pure, as if no human being has ever been here before. There is nothing to distract me from the green, the mild wind, the sun—
Except for one thing. I suddenly feel really excited at the thought of glancing behind the enormous oak standing a couple of feet from me. My eyes admire the beauty of this old tree. One of its branches is too heavy and has to support its weight on the ground, but the whole still looks healthy and vigorous.
However, that’s not why I am staring at it. I know that someone is hiding behind its trunk: someone I love. My legs come to a halt and I bend to pick up a yellow flower.
It’s not a lily, but it’ll do, I muse.
I am not in control of my body, though the movements I make and the thoughts I contemplate seem natural.
A branch creaks from behind the tree, followed by a woman’s voice. “Are you coming?” it says, and I realize that it is my own voice.
“Yes, Amya. I’m right here,” I say. The sound coming out of my mouth is deep and hoarse. I look down. Why are my hands so large? And why am I wearing a man’s clothes? The questions are lost when a more powerful emotion invades my mind.
Excitement. I am thrilled that I get to be with her today. Everything is perfect, from spending some time alone with her to being here, in Blue. Nothing can go wrong. No worries about the world outside, nor him.
I walk the rest of the distance between me and the old oak and I am rewarded by the sight of her silky black hair over her right shoulder.
“I’m right here,” I repeat quietly, in a deep voice that is not mine.
Confused, I feel my heartbeat accelerating and my eyes getting blurry again. What am I doing here? Why am I in a man’s body? And more importantly, why is this place so familiar?
                                                                                                                                                                                          
***
I was thrown back into my own body as fast as a bullet pierces flesh. It was only a matter of seconds before the heart monitor went crazy, my heart pumping fast. Too fast, I guess, because in the lapse of about two respirations, my hand was released, a man screamed for help, and several new voices arrived, every one more frantic than the other.
“Did you touch anything?” a woman inquired.
“Tell me what happened,” another said.
The man next to me babbled a few words, not knowing how to explain my reaction. “I didn’t… I—I was holding her hand and…” is what he managed to say.
His voice! His voice was the same I had impersonated while walking in the meadow. What is going on? I wanted to scream.
Anger boiled through my veins as the questions piled and no answer was given to me. My mind shut out everything happening around me and I focused on the past. On what I could remember…
I recalled the first time I had watched the movie Ghost with Samera. We had created a recipe for a perfect movie night: AllCheeses, a piece of cheese between two all-dressed chips. My parents had gone on a trip to California and they had nicely lent me the house for the whole weekend. Faithful to our tendency to experiment adult behaviors, Samera and I had decided to open a bottle of red wine. I can still remember that it was a Camporignano from Italy because after drinking the entire thing, we wrote to the Italian ambassador in the US to tell him that his beverage had gotten us all fuzzy, sick, and emotional. Samera and I cried throughout the entire movie and finally decided to stay single for most of our lives. I had never had a serious boyfriend anyway, and disliked the saying that “when you are with someone you love, you become one with them.” I hated the idea of being half of an individual who could only be completed by someone else, the other half. I liked my independence. So my best friend and I made a vow to stay single at least until we had real jobs or were over twenty-five. However, as everyone knows, no one is ever safe from love. Love always fights its way to you until it knocks you over. A couple of months later, I met Wyatt Anderson. My first love.
During my first semester at Princeton University, Wyatt was assigned as my tutor, as he was one of the best students in English literature and I was probably one of the worst. Anyway, Wyatt was a twenty-three-year-old guy with royal blue eyes that put a night sky to shame. He probably had shoulder-length blond hair, but its curls shortened it to his ears. His strong jaw made his mouth look thinner though his lips were full and appealing. I learned during my time spent studying at his side that he was from Australia, though he did not really have an accent.
I’d never understood what Wyatt had found in me as he was flawless and I—well, I was a book geek failing a literature course.
After a truly awkward first meeting in Dr. Rubby’s class, we started studying together and hanging out, and two weeks later, he was calling me his girlfriend. He was even accepted into my close group of friends, only composed of Samera Cohen and Xander Macfrey, a boy I’d met at a boring party in high school.
My relationship with Wyatt had always been perfect. I remembered that cold day of November when he’d invited me to the movie theater and we’d both fell asleep watching the worst movie of all time. We’d woken up an hour after the credits and had laughed at ourselves for days… Or so I thought. Waking up next to him was the last thing I could remember.
I was trying to push the memories further, to the day before I was admitted at the hospital, when a sharp pain like a knife in my brain made me want to rip my head open. And then, appearing out of nowhere, I saw three sets of images in a sudden flash. The first one was a window followed by red eyes. The second showed Wyatt in front of a beautiful lake, the one nearby my parent’s chalet. Finally, the third depicted a blurry face disguised as a ninja turtle and a giraffe. The more I dug for information, the less I could bear the excruciating pain starting in my brain and making its way to my neck and shoulders. I felt like every cell in my body wanted to explode.
“Amya,” someone whispered, bringing me back to the present, to my hospital bed.
The agony instantly diminished until it was only a tingle in my temples, and then nothing.
“Amya, I’m right here.” It was the same voice who’d screamed for the nurses’ help earlier. “I don’t know if you can hear me, but I’m right here.”
I wished he would speak louder so that I could recognize his voice.
He seemed to shift into his seat and open a bag. An odor of metal mixed with vanilla filled the room and even though I couldn’t remember when or where I had smelled it, my nose recognized the aroma. And I somehow felt threatened by it.
My jaw tensed and my eyeballs began to shift from left to right, like an automatic response.
Wait, so my muscles don’t mind coming to life, but only when I’m not asking for it? My entire body actually felt less rigid and my gut told me that it would only get better with time.
The odd mixture of metal and vanilla grew stronger until it was all I could think of. The familiarity of it made me try to reach for some lost memory. I dreaded that the pain would come back, but I had to try one more time.
What does this smell remind me of?
Home, perhaps? My father was a writer and my mother worked for a bank. They both hated cooking so we often—if not always—called my grandmother to see if she had something left for us. She always did. She loved cooking for the whole family and my parents were thrilled not to have to prepare dinner every day. But there was no way Grandma would cook something with vanilla in it; she was allergic, as was my mother.
The clinking of metal was interrupted when two female voices grew closer to the hospital room. I instantly recognized one of them. My mother. Everything happened so fast afterward. The man next to me took his backpack and seemed to disappear on the left side of my bed, even though, after hearing my mother step into the room, I realized that the door was on my right.

Chapter II

“HER VITALS WERE OK. It must have been a bad dream,” the nurse told my mom as they entered my room.
“Thank you, Nina,” my mother said before the nurse left. “Hello, my darling. I brought your favorite flowers,” she said and then paused. “Oh. Someone else had the same idea.”
After—according to the noise—arranging the new lilies with the older ones, Mom sat on the chair to my left and slightly touched my forehead. She seemed to breathe slowly, as if to hide unwelcome emotions.
“I really wish you would come back, you know,” she began in a tiny voice. “Your doctor, Mr. Bennett, told me that you were getting better. He keeps saying you can hear people around you, but I’m starting to think he’s just trying to comfort us.” She paused, took several deep breaths and kept going. “It’s been almost five months, Amya. It is time now. Time to come home… Don’t you want to come home?” She finished her sentence in a sob.
I had never seen my mother cry—not that I could see her now, either, but her words broke my heart. She and my father were always so happy and sweet with each other. It was like the honeymoon stage never ended. Always teasing one another and kissing tenderly, much like the high school sweethearts they were. If I had believed in soul mates, I would have said that my parents were meant for each other. My father spent most of his time in his study, writing novels, and my mother was the VP of a bank, which meant that she was often working, attending meetings, parties and such. Because they could not see each other often, they prioritized quality over quantity. And every moment was spent with a smile.
So hearing my mother in tears at my bedside was a new experience—one I’d rather have never triggered. Of course I wanted to come home, especially if I’d been in this state for five months. But how was I supposed to wake up?
My mother cleared her throat, which she always did when trying to push aside her emotions, her feelings. When she spoke again, her voice was steady and her words chosen with precision, as always.
“You were absent for your own birthday two weeks ago and even missed Nevada’s memorial. It’s the first year you miss her memorial… Xander and his father were there. Samera and the Cohens attended as well…”
She kept talking; however, my mind was already elsewhere. Nevada…
The flash with the images came back, but this time, it lingered on the window and the red eyes. The two, I now knew for sure, were connected. Nevada…
I tried to focus on Xander’s sister’s name. Nevada…
I pictured the window and the red eyes, again, and held onto these images, searching for a connection. Nevada…
The window frame was beige, but you could see that the paint was old and needed some work done. If I took a closer look, a couple of teenagers were kissing on a chair nearby and several other students walked hastily. Nevada…
And then I remembered. The day of my sixteenth birthday. The beginning of the Transition.

***
“Nevada!” I shouted as soon as I saw the medium-length red-haired girl in the hallway. She had inherited her mother’s hair, while Xander’s was brown like their father’s.
She looked up from her notebook and smiled. It wasn’t her usual ear-to-ear smile, though. And she didn’t jump up and down and talked faster than sound itself, as she made her way to me. Her eyes were sad and her shoulders a little hunched, so I hugged her, not knowing what else to do.
“Hi, Amya,” she said, with the same half-smile. “Happy birthday.”
“Thanks! But tell me about your summer in Florida. Is Xander back as well? God, I missed you guys!”
“It was fun,” she replied, her pale green eyes glancing around, as if looking for somebody. “Xander is here. I think he was looking for you and Samera. You should check your phone. Excuse me.”
She touched my right hand before heading to the bathroom and as soon as her skin made contact with mine, I felt bitter and pessimistic. Oblivious that it was part of a Transition, I had started to experience people’s feelings a couple of days earlier; therefore, I knew these weren’t my emotions. They were hers. I suddenly felt the urge to understand them and decided to follow Nevada to the bathroom, where I found her in tears.
“Hey, what’s going on?”
She shook her head, not wanting to talk about it, but I wouldn’t take no for an answer. I’d never seen her like that. She was the bubbliest person I knew, always laughing and teasing everyone. When she tried to leave, I gently seized her arm.
And that’s when it happened.
A chill ran through my body as a purple spot shadowed my sight. And then, I was in her head. I could see me looking at her. But that’s not what grabbed my attention. Her thoughts did.
Is she ever going to leave me alone? I—she—thought. I didn’t ask for her to care for me. I don’t deserve it. She is just like mom. One day she cares, and the other she disappears. Never to come back.
I should do the same. No one will ever realize that I am gone until they find my body. And even then, what will they say? I should make it easy for them. I should make my body easy to find.
And she snatched her arm from my grasp, sending me right back into my own body. It was the first time I had experienced a Sojourn and I had absolutely no idea what it was and how to react. We stared at each other for a few seconds, until the bell rang, and then she stormed out of the bathroom.
I should have followed her that day. I should have tried to talk to her, but I didn’t know that what I had experienced was real.
During the last period, someone shouted for help and every student in class gathered around the window. As soon as I saw what was happening outside, my head went blank. Next thing I knew, I was kneeling on the school lawn, looking at a distorted Nevada, and Xander was bent over her lifeless body, somehow still trying to protect his little sister. His eyes wandered through the crowd and as soon as they found mine, I choked back my guilt and fled the scene.
Later that day, while I was crying into my mother’s arms, she told me about our family’s ability to send our souls to Sojourn into people’s bodies. One member per generation goes through the Transition starting on their sixteenth birthday. She wasn’t certain if I or my sister would be the “lucky one,” so she never told any of us. Plus, she absolutely hated to bear that special power. Mother never listened when Grandma begged her to inform us. In her mind, if none of her daughters knew about the ability, it would never manifest itself.
I’d been mad at her for months after that. Were it not for her omission, Nevada might still be alive. But if Xander was able to forgive my Mom after he was told the whole story—including my new capacity—I too had to make an effort.
Even though the image of my friend’s red eyes would forever haunt my conscience.

***
Recalling that memory made me want to shake some sense out of my mother. How could she have hidden such important information for sixteen years? However, I also remembered how responsible she had felt—and must still feel—for Nevada’s death. My mother had never truly recovered; always offering her help to the remaining of the Macfrey family, Xander and his dad. After the incident, their well-being soon became of high priority to her. And Xander and I grew into even closer friends as he and Mr. Macfrey often had dinner at our house.
I also learned that year that the essence of vanilla blocks the ability to Sojourn, which is why both my mother and grandmother told me they were allergic.
I tried to push the memories further, to remember how I had learned to control the Sojourns, but the headache threatened to come back, so I stopped at once.
At least, the Sojourn I’d experienced with the man earlier made sense. It also made sense that he had put on something sprayed with vanilla afterward, in order to obstruct me from his thoughts.
“I need to go back to work, darling,” mother said, as if sensing my agitation. “But I will be here tomorrow at lunch, as always. Delilah also said she’d pay you a visit this week or the next. She came back from England just three weeks ago. She worked in a hotel in London during the entire summer. She’ll probably tell you all about it herself. I almost didn’t let her go because of everything that’s going on right now… I know you and Wyatt wanted to go there after you both graduated, so when you wake up, she’ll be able to indicate you which places to visit.
“Speaking of which, I spoke with your dean yesterday, and he assured me that you would be able to start your second year at Princeton as soon as you wake up. He said you were a good and studious student…”
My mother went on with her sentence, but my thoughts stuck on the phrase, “you would be able to start your second year.” How could I begin my second year of college, when I hadn’t completed my first semester?

Information I had heard today but not fully comprehended came to me all at once. My mother said that I have been in a coma for almost five months. Plus, we celebrate Nevada’s memorial every year on my birthday. I was born on September 1st. If my birthday was two weeks ago, like my mom told me, and the last thing I remember was going to the theater with Wyatt in November, it means that I have no recollection of the last eleven months of my life!

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About the author
Lydhia Marie was born in a small town in Quebec, Canada. She discovered her passion for writing later in life during her last summer as an English student at Bishop’s University. To be honest, she wasn’t much of a reader before she started her degree, but this hate for words transformed into a passion for reading and then morphed into a need for writing. Strange but nonetheless true.
After finishing her first draft, she attended a three-week creative writing course at the University of Oxford, where she realized that her first manuscript was very badly written. Fortunately, the idea behind the writing was “so unique and different,” according to an early critique of the novel, that she decided to write the entire manuscript anew, from a blank page to the epilogue.
She enjoys books that transports her into a new world and characters that are both original and relatable. But most of all, she loves spending time writing or reading with her dog, Bookie, on her lap, looking adorable with his legs in the air and his belly ready to be rubbed.

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