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Review: The Similars by Rebecca Hanover

Review: The Similars by Rebecca Hanover

Junior year just got a lot more cutthroat.

This fall, six new students are joining the junior class at the elite Darkwood Academy. But they aren’t your regular over-achieving teens. They’re clones. And they’re joining the class alongside their originals.

The Similars are all anyone can talk about: Who are these clones? What are the odds that all of them would be Darkwood students? And who is the madman who broke the law against cloning to create them? Emmaline Chance couldn’t care less. Her best friend, Oliver, died over the summer and it’s all she can do to get through each day without him.

Then she comes face-to-heartbreaking-face with Levi—Oliver’s exact DNA copy and one of the Similars.

Emma wants nothing to do with the Similars, except she keeps getting pulled deeper into their clique. She can’t escape the dark truths about the clones or her prestigious school. No one can be trusted…not even the boy she is falling for with Oliver’s face.’

Firstly, I have to say that I don’t think that the description of The Similars really does the book justice. I wasn’t sure about requesting it, based on the somewhat heavy emphasis on what sounded like a standard, predictable YA romance, and while the romance itself isn’t exactly much different from the stereotype, that there are more interesting and relevant ideas explored within the story make it a novel that ranks up there with my other favourites of this year so far.

There are hints of Never Let Me Go woven throughout the narrative as the story explores what is considered ‘human’ and how science and pride/arrogance can create difficulties for both creator and creation, much as in Frankenstein, which is referenced directly in The Similars. For me, the most intriguing elements of the novel are the reactions of the students and the outside world to the clones that have been created, and how in turn the clones react to being put in situations where they are dehumanised by those around them.

The novel is very well paced, with few lulls in the narrative, which makes it easy to want to continue reading. However, one of the reasons that it’s well paced is that a lot of information seems to fall into the protagonist’s lap very conveniently or with minimum effort (and often a lack of consequences) on her part. She witnesses several events and learns key information without paying any tangible price for it until the last third of the novel, which may be done to lull the reader into a false sense of security, but it also means that there are few opportunities to be worried for her. Emmaline is an easy character to care for, despite some quite nasty behaviour early in the story, but there lacks a feeling that she is ever in any real danger. This said, this doesn’t prevent the novel from being one that consistently engages interest, as it’s the discoveries made and ideas explored within, especially in terms of morality and ethics, that raise the most questions and make the reader wonder just how a character is going to react – and  to consider whether their reaction is one that they find themselves comfortable with.

Ultimately, the themes of power and responsibility, nature versus nurture, and science and society are what make The Similars an engaging and enjoyable read. It contains a varied cast of characters, many of which I’d like to see developed in greater detail in any novels that follow, and who mostly have a facet of their personality that suggests that even the worst may be redeemable – or, at the very least, that they are human.

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Pub date: 1st January 2019

I received an ARC of The Similars from Netgalley and the publisher.