Friday, January 24, 2020

Siri, Who Am I? by Sam Tschida

The preliminary reviews for this book are pretty mixed, which I totally get. If you go into this expecting a serious mystery, you're not going to be happy. SIRI, WHO AM I? is pure fluff. I'd describe it as a cross between American Dreamer (1984), Legally Blonde (2001), and Memento (2000). The premise is basically this. An airhead wakes up in a hospital (no, that's not the introduction to an off-color joke), only to find that she's completely lost her memory. She's wearing a yellow Prada dress and the only possessions on her person are a rhinestone tiara and a matching bag containing a cracked cell phone and a Chanel lipstick.

Using her cell phone, she's able to learn that her name is Mia and a whole bunch of people are really mad at her. She's not sure how she got the traumatic head injury that landed her in the hospital in the first place, but with so many people out to get her, it's starting to look like it might have been intentional. Mia's attempts to discover herself take her all over Southern California, from the beaches, to the local art scene, to hipster taco trucks, all the while trying to figure out who bonked her on the head-- and why.

I loved Mia's voice. This book reminded me a lot of the Size 12 Is Not Fat series by Meg Cabot. The heroine is the perfect blend of snarky and vapid (hence the Elle Woods comparison), and she has a lot of really fun and on-point observations about the superficiality of Californian culture. Looking at some of the reviews, I suspect that maybe a lot of them aren't from California and therefore maybe didn't realize how accurate some of this satire actually is (very). I laughed my way through the first 200 pages because influencer culture really is ridiculous, and so are the Kardashians, and so are $12 burritos from a truck, and so is over-sharing on social media. How ridiculous is it that some of us over-share so much that it would allow us to double-back through our lives to figure out our street address and everything we did in the last week if we ever came down with retrograde amnesia?

Speaking of retrograde amnesia, I love the psychology/neuroscience angle in this book. You see, Mia's unwilling partner-in-crime throughout all of this is a cute house-sitter named Max who works in a neuroscience lab. Max is basically like a black, male Ms. Frizzle with his geeky passion for science-themed t-shirts and the final frontier. Speaking as someone who majored in psychology, tutored (intro) neuroscience, and actually worked in a lab on experiments about deception (just like Max), this part of the book really spoke to me. I always love a good psychology angle in fiction.

The second half of the book isn't quite as good as the first, which is why I think you need to suspend your disbelief. I personally thought it was a solid ending and even though it was kind of cheesy, it's the cinematic movie ending we all secretly want, even as our more intellectual sides might hang our heads. SIRI, WHO AM I? is just plain fun escapist fantasy and I recommend it to people who enjoy authors like Meg Cabot or Megan Angelo, and other authors of smart, brainy chick-lit.

P.S. I've already done the mental casting for this movie. Jessie Usher is Max, Maddie Hasson is Mia, Sierra A. McClain is Crystal, and Johnathan Rhys Meyers is JP. Feel free to credit me as assistant casting director when the movie comes out.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review! 

4 to 4.5 out of 5 stars

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