Wakers by Orson Scott Card #bookreview #YA #scifi #clones

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.

Mickey7 by Edward Ashton #bookreview #scifi #clones #TuesdayBookBlog

Mickey7, an “expendable,” refuses to let his replacement clone Mickey8 take his place.

Dying isn’t any fun…but at least it’s a living.

Mickey7 is an Expendable: a disposable employee on a human expedition sent to colonize the ice world Niflheim. Whenever there’s a mission that’s too dangerous—even suicidal—the crew turns to Mickey. After one iteration dies, a new body is regenerated with most of his memories intact. After six deaths, Mickey7 understands the terms of his deal…and why it was the only colonial position unfilled when he took it.

On a fairly routine scouting mission, Mickey7 goes missing and is presumed dead. By the time he returns to the colony base, surprisingly helped back by native life, Mickey7’s fate has been sealed. There’s a new clone, Mickey8, reporting for Expendable duties. The idea of duplicate Expendables is universally loathed, and if caught, they will likely be thrown into the recycler for protein.

Mickey7 must keep his double a secret from the rest of the colony. Meanwhile, life on Niflheim is getting worse. The atmosphere is unsuitable for humans, food is in short supply, and terraforming is going poorly. The native species are growing curious about their new neighbors, and that curiosity has Commander Marshall very afraid. Ultimately, the survival of both lifeforms will come down to Mickey7.

That is, if he can just keep from dying for good.

Cloning has always been a fascinating topic for me, and the concept of Expendables is a new one. The combination of the two made this book irresistable.

No doubt about it – Mickey7 has a crappy job. He knew what he was in for when he took it, but dying doesn’t get any easier. He retains his memories (he uploads periodically), but every death has also been painful and occasionally messy. I immediately liked Mickey. His voice reminds me of Mark Watney in The Martian – snarky, self-depracating, and humorous. He also breaks the fourth wall and speaks to the reader, something I especially loved.

Things aren’t going so well on the colonization mission. Food is in short supply, rations are being cut, and vegetation is dying. They’re also being threatened by local lifeforms, the Creepers. Think centipede-like creatures but a million times bigger. And they tear people to shreds and eat them. Mickey’s existence is threatened even more when Mickey8 is taken from the tank after Mickey7 goes missing and is presumed dead. Multiples are forbidden to exist at the same time. Many of the crew are kind of weirded out by clones, and most of them steer clear of Mickey, anyway. A religious group of Natalists on board consider clones to be soulless abominations, and it doesn’t help that Mickey’s commander is a believer. To say the two of them have a tension-filled relationship is an understatement.

This novel wasn’t exactly what I’d expected. I was prepared for more action and exploration into the Creepers, but the majority of the story focuses on the Mickeys keeping their dual existence a secret – which, of course, is impossible. Especially since he/they have a girlfriend. The story brings the Theseus’ Paradox into play (a thought experiment that raises the question of whether an object that has had all of its components replaced remains fundamentally the same object), something that was really thought-provoking. I also enjoyed the stories about the different colonies throughout history.

I’ve seen comp titles of Dark Matter and The Martian (two outstanding reads), but I can’t say Mickey7 is exactly like either of them. I’d categorize this novel as light sci-fi filled with loads of tension, a little action, a splash of romance, and a healthy serving of humor.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

The Pretenders (The Similars #2) by Rebecca Hanover #bookreview #YA #scifi

In this conclusion to The Similars duology, Emma must figure out who she really is, decide between two boys with the same face, and stop a dangerous plan based on revenge.

Emma is still reeling from the events of her junior year at Darkwood. Not only is her best friend, Oliver, shockingly alive, but the boy she loves—his Similar, Levi—is still on the island where he grew up, stranded with his deranged creator.

More importantly, she is grappling with who she really is. Emma can’t accept the hard truths she learned last year and refuses to share her secrets with anyone, isolating herself from her friends and Ollie.

But when more of the Similars’ creator’s plot is revealed, Emma and her friends will have to try to stop him from putting a plan into motion that could destroy everyone she loves. 

With it’s dark secrets, shocking truths, and political angles, the first book in this series hooked me, and I couldn’t wait to get to the sequel.  It also hinted at a very bizarre love triangle.

The things I enjoyed in the first book – cloning, clone rights, and ethics – aren’t as prominent in this sequel.  Instead, it focuses more on high school cliches and teen drama.  Yes, this is a young adult novel, and those actions are to be expected in some of them; however, compared to the first book in this series, The Pretenders takes an entirely different path.  Almost like The Similars, but in an alternate universe – Bizarro world, maybe?

Characterization is done well and I enjoyed the scientific aspects of the story.  The message of not hating others for their differences is an important theme throughout.  But the ending made me think of Scooby-Doo when masks are removed from the villains.  Some big reveals occur, but the scene is chaotic, rushed, and felt out of place in comparison to the first book.

Overall, I’m glad I finished this series, but it didn’t work for me as well as the first book.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

 

 

The Similars (The Similars #1) by Rebecca Hanover #TuesdayBookBlog #bookreview #scifi

When six clones join Emmaline’s prestigious boarding school, she must confront the heartbreak of seeing her dead best friend’s face each day in class.

The Similars are all anyone can talk about at the elite Darkwood Academy. Who are these six clones? What are the odds that all of them would be Darkwood students? Who is the madman who broke the law to create them? Emma couldn’t care less. Her best friend, Oliver, died over the summer and all she can think about is how to get through her junior year without him. Then she comes face-to-heartbreaking-face with Levi—Oliver’s exact DNA replica and one of the Similars.

Emma wants nothing to do with the Similars, but she keeps getting pulled deeper and deeper into their clique, uncovering dark truths about the clones and her prestigious school along the way. But no one can be trusted…not even the boy she is falling for who has Oliver’s face.

Clones, dark secrets, shocking truths, acts of revenge, and a budding romance – The Similars has it all.  After reading the first three words in the description, I knew this novel was for me.

The first half of this book teased me with hints of dark truths, mysteries, and hidden agendas – I couldn’t put it down.  Emma’s situation is heartbreaking at times, and she has a lot on her plate, but her drive and determination to get to the root of everything is admirable.  The girl gets things done.  Along with the boarding school goings-on is a political angle.  What are clones’ rights?  Should they be treated as human beings and afforded the same privileges?  Are they a threat?  Things to ponder.

The second half seems to veer off the rails just a tad.  While the first half is well-planned and creates a believable world, the second didn’t seem as carefully thought out, and plot developments come from every direction, many of them predictable.  I’m not a fan of love triangles, and by no means is romance the central focus of this story, but there’s a hint of the most unique triangle I’ve come across.  I’ll have to wait for the next book to see if it pans out.

Overall, this is an intriguing book that held my attention from the first page, and I fully intend on continuing with the series.  If you’re a fan of layers upon layers of secrets, sci-fi, thrillers, and mystery, add The Similars to your TBR.

The Similars is scheduled for release January 1st, 2019.  Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.