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The Similars: 01/12/19
The Similars by Rebecca Hanover is the start of a new YA science fiction series that focuses on cloning and immigration and more broadly, human rights. The narrative is told from the point of view of Emma, a student at Darkwood Academy, an east coast boarding school that has agreed to bring on six clones or "similars" as they call themselves as transfer students at a time when the United States is actively pushing to ban clones from crossing the boarder.
The book opens with Emma approaching the school in a self driven car with only her personal assistant as her companion. Think of Siri or Alexa if you couldn't shut them up. She, though, is reeling from the death of her best friend, Oliver, who had also been a student at Darkwood.
As it so happens, all of the Similars have originals attending the school. Now these aren't clones that were grown from stem cells to teenagers in the course of a year or two; these clones were cloned shortly after the births of the originals. Hanover goes into the timeline of their cloning as part of the overall mystery.
Now imagine Emma's further shock at realizing one of the clones is of Oliver. He looks enough like him to be uncanny. He has some of his mannerisms but nothing of the personality that she loved.
There are some big plot twists that I expected from the very first chapter. And yes, they were all there. And that is a very good thing. The author has written for soap operas and it shows. Frankly, The Similars would work well serialized on Netflix.
This first volume also fits on the road narrative spectrum at a 99FFCC (scarecrow, utopia, maze) . For reasons I'm not going to spoil here, Emma qualifies as a scarecrow (99). She isn't trapped by her circumstances as a Minotaur would be, but she is in the same position of being a guard of her surroundings. Her ultimate destination in volume one is the home of the Similars which is described as a man made island in the Atlantic. As it is man-made and hard to track, I'm counting it as a utopia (FF). Finally, given all the cloak and dagger machinations of the adults in Emma's life, as well as the tasks the different Similars have been given, the path towards knowing the truth is full of traps and blind alleys, thus making her route a maze (CC).
The second book is scheduled for release in 2020. As of writing this review it doesn't have a title or a specific release date beyond the year. Regardless, I am planning to purchase and read it when it's released.