America's recent tussle with Ebola — and the current resurgence of measles — has made pandemics a major issue, and a major fear. Not that you'd know it from Laura Van Den Berg's Find Me. In it, a haunted young woman named Joy winds up in a hospital in rural Kansas, following the onset of a mysterious, fatal disease, one that erases people's memories. She's untouched by the disease, and the doctor at the hospital is attempting to find a cure by experimenting on Joy and the other patients — make that inmates — of the Hospital, which is capitalized throughout the book as a way of underscoring its monolithic, Kafkaesque presence. The patients, however, keep dying. It's a stellar setup, if short on imagination, but Van Den Berg curiously avoids fully engaging with the meat of her themes.
Van Den Berg has two acclaimed short-story collections under her belt, most recently the award-winning The Isle of Youth. Find Me is her first foray into novel-length fiction, and while she dazzlingly expands her scope, she mostly skims the surface of her premise.