by Cat Patrick
To be published by Little, Brown BFYR
on May 7, 2013
Source: e-ARC from the publisher via NetGalley. Please see my full FTC disclosure on right sidebar.
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Summary (adapted from Goodreads:) 17-year-olds Lizzie, Ella, and Betsey Best grew up as identical triplets... until they discovered a shocking family secret. They're actually clones. Hiding from a government agency that would expose them, the Best family appears to consist of a single mother with one daughter named Elizabeth. Lizzie, Ella, and Betsey take turns going to school and attending social engagements. But then Lizzie meets Sean Kelly, a guy who seems to see into her very soul. As their relationship develops, Lizzie realizes that she's not a carbon copy of her sisters; she's an individual with unique dreams and desires, and digging deeper into her background, Lizzie begins to dismantle the delicate balance of an unusual family that only science could have created.
My take: While I would not consider myself a big science-fiction reader, some of my favorite YA books recently have been sci-fi. Have aliens landed and my consciousness been replaced by that of an extra-terrestrial life form? I don't know, but I must say, I'm enjoying these books a lot.
The Originals takes a simple and compelling premise that even a non-scientific layperson can grasp right away, then really explores its potential for drama and conflict. Imagine being a clone, one of three identical sisters. You were created illegally and the authorities may be aware of your existence, so you and your sisters have to hide. You have to share one life, to take turns being one person. Nothing is ever your own. You have to agree with your sisters on what to wear every day, how to fix your hair, who you can be friends with.
I was very happy that The Originals was told from only one sister's point of view. Lizzie loves her two sisters and trusts her mother, who insists that the bizarre rules she has set up are to ensure the girls' safety. And yet, Lizzie longs for what many teenage girls want: to matter to someone. To feel unique and special. To start being independent. Under the rules she has to follow, Lizzie's growing relationship with Sean can never be something that is hers alone … or can it?
I loved the fact that The Originals explores classic YA themes: identity and independence, first love, and sibling affection and rivalry. I recently described the book to someone as "Sci-Fi Little Women." At times I felt the book did struggle a bit balancing a scientific premise with a character-driven plot, and true sci-fi fans might wish for a few more details. Even I had some questions: if the girls are exact genetic copies and were raised in the same environment, why are they so different in personality? The book does suggest that clones are not as similar as identical twins, and if this is true, I would have loved to know more.
The heart of The Originals is really the girls' struggle to break free from their strange and restrictive life. There is also suspense surrounding the (presumably dead) child that the sisters were cloned from, the illegality of their creation, and the whereabouts of their biological parents. By the end of the book, not all of these issues are fully resolved. It seems to me that The Originals reads like a standalone, though I could definitely see the potential for the story to continue.
If you like the idea of YA sci-fi with a heart, I definitely recommend The Originals. It's a love story, it's a story about sisters, it's a story about finding one's place in the world.
And if you are a fan of stories about clones, check out the new show Orphan Black on BBC America. While The Originals has three girls sharing one life, Orphan Black is the story of a girl who sees someone who looks exactly like her commit suicide, then steals the woman's identity, only to find out that they are part of group of clones being hunted by an unknown killer. It's part sci-fi, part mystery-thriller, and a lot of fun so far :)
Love hearing that this could be read as a standalone-always excited to see that about non-realistic stories. I really like the sound of this one and hope to pick it up in May!ReplyDelete
Aa far I as I can tell, it is. No cliffhanger, thank goodness.Delete
THe main struggle about them trying to break free from their strange life appeals to me, so I am adding to my tbrReplyDelete
I liked that part. The more I thought about how weird their lives were, the more intrigued I was.Delete
I'm not a huge sci-fi fan either, but the premise of this story sounds different, that alone makes it worth a try.ReplyDelete
Your review helped too! :-)
I'm so glad! Come back and let me know what you thought...Delete
This sounds a bit like both The Lost Girl and What's Left of Me, both in the cloning aspect as the themes are identity and independence. And sibling rivalry and affection too, I suppose. I love that these themes are showing more and more in YA because I think they are really compelling and some of my favorites to read. Great review!ReplyDelete
I see you are reading The 5th Wave! LOVED that book so much. Probably the best I've read this year. Email/ tweet me me how you are liking it!
I didn't read WLoM, but I agree that there are a few similarities to Lost Girl, like the illegal cloning and the need for secrecy.Delete
Interesting. I think I want to read this one. I love the concept. And I can see why they have different personalities. Three people can't truly share a single life. They take turns, but they each have different experiences. So if personality develops as a mix of nature and nurture, than the different experiences each day are going affect each girl differently. Like, if one girl gets punched in the face and her face bruises, she experienced that. The other girls didn't. Then the other girls either need to be punched in their face by their mom so they can take their turn (which will have a totally different impact on their psyche than the girl who got punched at school) or the girl who got punched will have to keep living the single life until her face heals, which means she gets a wider set of experiences than the other two. My mind is going in a thousand directions with this premise. I think I'm afraid to read it now. Nothing is more disappointing to me than a book that doesn't live up to its potential and this premise has SO MUCH.ReplyDelete
That comment made me smile. It makes sense, too :)Delete
Oh, I love the concept of cloning! Very interesting :) and I think it will be fascinating to see how Lizzie is trying to find her own identity.ReplyDelete
It's kind of freaky when I think about it, but I loved the concept of the girls sharing one identity!Delete
I am also not a very big sci-fi fan but have been devouring sci-fi novels (and loving them) these past few weeks. It seems like a good book, pretty pretty cover too! Marking this down so I can remember to pick myself a copy next month.ReplyDelete
There are a lot of good ones all of a sudden!Delete
This one sounds very interesting! I don't mind a more character driven plot, especially with the warning there. Sometimes sci-fi can get too heavy anyway. I'm sure I'll be picking this one up in the future!ReplyDelete
I love character-driven stories, so I was happy :)Delete
I don't even know that I was really aware of this one, but now I HAVE to read it. :) Books with cloning or dual identities always get me for some reason.ReplyDelete
It all started with my obsession with The Parent Trap ….Delete
I definitely want to read this one, I also can't wait to check out the show on BBC I immediately thought oooh this show should be a book! lolReplyDelete
Kristin @ Young Adult Book Haven
The show is great -- my whole family is addicted. Let me know if you like it! I should warn everyone that it is one of those cable shows with nudity. The girl whose identity Sarah assumes has a boyfriend, and every time he gets suspicious about why she seems different, she seduces him. Usually in the kitchen :)Delete
"Sci-fi Little Women" sounds very intriguing!ReplyDelete
The relationship between the sisters was great!Delete
Definitely glad to hear there is only one POV, otherwise it could get confusing. I've been very into sci-fi lately it seems so I am really excited to read this one. :)ReplyDelete
Thanks for the review, I think I'll check this one out! :) I like the idea of "scifi with heart" and the cover just draws me in- plus the premise about clones is really cool. And I think I'll try Orphan Black- definitely sounds like something I'd enjoy!ReplyDelete
Sci-fi Little Women? Yes please! I have never read a Cat Patrick book I didn't enjoy; she just makes sci-fi stories so personal and interesting to me. I'm so glad you're recommending this, because I really wanted to pick it up, and now I'm confident it will be awesome. I really need to check out Orphan Black as well, that sounds VERY cool. Lovely review!ReplyDelete
This one sounds really good! I have really liked sci-fi lately too (Scarlet, Shades of Earth). It definitely sounds like something I haven't read before too, which is always nice. :)ReplyDelete