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Ally Carter: Things you can’t forget about amnesia

Ally Carter: Things you can’t forget about amnesia

Hi. I’m Ally, and I’m addicted to amnesia stories.

*Support group chimes*: “Hi, Ally.”

Amnesia stories seem to be one of those things that people either love or hate. Personally, I’m in the “love” category, and the reasons are pretty simple.

First, I’m a firm believer that the best stories are always about people who walk through fire and come out the other side a different person—a better person—the person they were actually meant to be all along.

Amnesia stories take the most basic of concepts (that all characters should have an arc), and they shine a spotlight on it. A character arc isn’t the byproduct or aftermath of an amnesia story—it’s the story itself.

Who am I? What do I want? What am I doing? How did I get here? Where do I need to go? And, perhaps most importantly: Who can I trust?

Those are the questions the protagonist of my new novel, The Blonde Identity, asks herself within the first ten pages, but those are also the questions that many of us ask off and on throughout our whole lives.

When the opening scene of The Blonde Identity came to me years ago, I saw a woman lying on the cold, hard ground, blinking up through the falling snow as the lights of the Eiffel Tower came into focus overhead.

I didn’t know who she was or how she got there—who was chasing her or even why. But one thing was clear to me: she didn’t know those things either. Which brings me to another of my favorite things about amnesia stories: the character and the reader start on the same page.

With amnesia, there’s no info-dumping. No backstory. No “previously on”. The reader and the character start their journey together.

We’re with the protagonist of The Blonde Identity as she learns that she’s a rogue spy on the run. We’re with her again when a very sexy, very grumpy secret agent tells her that, actually, no: she’s a rogue spy’s identical twin sister.

And, yes, we are very much with her as that grumpy agent reluctantly agrees to help her get away from the people who want her sister captured (or worse.) As they set off across Europe, she’s not just looking for her sister—she’s looking for answers. Who is she? How did she get there? And can she actually trust this man she can’t remember?

See Also

Of course, The Blonde Identity is hardly the first book to ever use the amnesia trope—it’s not even the first spy book. After all, The Bourne Identity redefined the entire genre. The third season of Alias permanently altered my brain chemistry. And, of course, The Long Kiss Goodnight is required viewing for any amnesia superfan.

But don’t stop there. Some of the best uses of the amnesia trope are, of course, on the romance aisle. Readers should absolutely check out Sherry Thomas’s Tempting the Bride, Into the Storm by Melanie Moreland, Love Will Always Remember by Tracey Livesay, and Once More My Darling Rogue by Lorraine Heath.

Like The Blonde Identity, these amnesia stories all share a common core and universal truth: sometimes you have to forget who you are in order to figure out who you want to be. Because a blank past isn’t just a clean slate—it’s a fresh start.

And what’s not to love about that?

The Blonde Identity by Ally Carter, Pan, Paperback, £9.99. Publishes 14 March 2024

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