From the New York Times bestselling author of Enders Game comes a brand-new series following a teen who wakes up on an abandoned Earth to discover that he’s a clone!
Laz is a side-stepper: a teen with the incredible power to jump his consciousness to alternate versions of himself in parallel worlds. All his life, there was no mistake that a little side-stepping couldn’t fix.
Until Laz wakes up one day in a cloning facility on a seemingly abandoned Earth.
Laz finds himself surrounded by hundreds of other clones, all dead, and quickly realizes that he too must be a clone of his original self. Laz has no idea what happened to the world he remembers as vibrant and bustling only yesterday, and he struggles to survive in the barren wasteland he’s now trapped in. But the question that haunts him isn’t why was he created, but instead, who woke him up…and why?
There’s only a single bright spot in Laz’s new life: one other clone appears to still be alive, although she remains asleep. Deep down, Laz believes that this girl holds the key to the mysteries plaguing him, but if he wakes her up, she’ll be trapped in this hellscape with him.
This is one problem that Laz can’t just side-step his way out of.
Clones, parallel worlds, and a teen with the ability to “side-step” into those worlds. I was eager to see what this author did with the concept.
After Laz wakes up surrounded by hundreds of dead clones, his loneliness is palpable. Although he remembers living in California, he finds himself in Greensboro, NC and seems to be the only human around. A pack of four dogs he comes across are his only friends until he discovers one other clone who survived. Once she wakes, their primary goals are one, to survive, and two, figure out why they were cloned.
The first part of this novel fascinated me, and I marveled at side-stepping and everything it entails. Laz can step into another version of himself in a parallel world and retain his memories while also absorbing the memories of his new self. Pretty cool, right? Some of his stories of when and why he’d chosen to side-step are amusing. Awkward moment with a date? Side-step. Get into too much trouble at school? Side-step. Once he and Ivy learn why they were cloned and what’s expected of them, the story takes a turn.
The banter between Laz and Ivy is sometimes witty, but can go on for pages, and I occasionally struggled with pacing. The same can be said about the science of their combined abilities. Especially in the last 40% or so, the dialogue becomes very science-heavy and can be difficult to keep up with, but the high concept held me enthralled.
With incredible world-building, a likeable, sarcastic main character, and a clever concept, this is a book I enjoyed, but I would only recommend it to true sci-fi fans.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.