Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on February 6th 2018
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What does it mean to be different? To be the only one of your kind?
What does it mean to be the same? What if you were the same but you felt different?
What is acceptance?
Jack is the only human living among clones. Clones who see themselves as being the normal ones and Jack as being an anomaly. He is erratic. He has his own thoughts and does not resemble anyone else. He experiences emotions and acts on them. The majority of the clones treat him with animosity; while there is one clone, Althea-310, who is very curious about him. She has many sisters who look exactly like her yet she feels different. She not only feels different on the inside, she was also born with a birth defect – she has a scar which also makes her physically different from the other clones. She is fascinated with him. Could they have something in common?
Humans once lived and thrived but they slowly died off due to a plague. A group of scientists decided to make 9 sets of clones designed to resemble (and be named after) each scientist tasked with creating them. The clones live for quite some time and then decide to “create” a human out of DNA. Perhaps another book will explore their reasons for doing so but I imagine that they were curious about the long lost humans and what they were like. Jack is the human they have created. Jack is raised as a “human” with books and music. He is permitted to call the clone who raised him “Mother” and to some degree she cares for him.
Jack is the ultimate outsider. He is observing the clones as they are observing them. He lives in a world where the clones resemble each other. They do not have their own names but are known by a name and a number to identify which one they are. Jack is an individual. He is one of a kind and this is both threatening and intriguing.
The clones have their own way of life which is both interesting and odd to Jack. They have customs and rituals “pairing” which seem uncaring and cold to Jack. But there is one clone, Althea-310, who has been nice to him. He is drawn to her. Perhaps they feel a sense of commonality to each other. What happens when you step outside of the box? When you challenge the status quo? When you act as an individual and not as a group member?
This book is about identity, acceptance, and what it means to be human (and also what it mean to not be human). There is a strong science fiction feel to this book. At times I thought the clones were acting like the Borg. The clones could communicate, sense and learn from each other without speaking. As I mentioned earlier, they are happy to exist as a group and do as expected. To act as an individual would be dangerous and could lead to the end of their life.
What happens when a clone and a human fall in love? This was a very unique and interesting book. I like how Jack and Althea-310 show growth. They both take chances for the other. They both learn to accept their differences while forming a relationship.
As I mentioned, I found this book to be interesting and intriguing. It is always refreshing to read a book that is unique and does not feel like a carbon copy of other works. The ending left it so that there could be other books to follow. If there are more books, I will definitely be reading them.
I received a copy of this book form Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Book Group and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.