Friday, April 26, 2013
Me on The Originals
Author: Cat Patrick
Release Date: May 7, 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (Hachette Book Group imprint)
17-year-olds Lizzie, Ella, and Betsey grew up as identical triplets... until they discovered a shocking family secret. They're actually closer than sisters, they're 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, attending social engagements, and a group mindset has always been a part of life. 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.
The Originals is a curious and secretive story of identity, a look at taking a chance and deciding to be your own person instead of the one someone wants you to be. A contemporary setting with the barest hint of science, this is reminiscent of the author's previous novels, stories about teens looking for a normal life, hoping for one, but something secretive and suspicious in their past is holding them captive.
Lizzie, Ella, and Betsey. Three girls. Three girls made to live one life, forced to live the same life outside the walls of their home. They look the same, they sound the same. They are clones. But they are not the same. They have different personalities. In the ways the girls feel it matters, they are different people, and that complicates the life their mother has planned for them.
It's not the science behind human cloning that is the focus here, it's more of a sociological and psychological experiment. How much of what we are is determined by our genetic code? Is every single piece of our personality, how we see ourselves, in our genes? That doesn't seem to be the case for the girls. Clones they may be, but not wholly. What forms personality and identity? Can it be copied?
What does identity mean when you're forced to be someone else? What does identity mean when you're restricted on how to act, what to look like? When are you free to be honest, to live and look the way you want to? What if you want to share that real you with someone so they see beyond the mask you're forced to wear? But what if the truth that will come out is too big to share?
Cat Patrick's books are unique in a way that I find compelling. She takes a realistic contemporary setting and with one tweak or twist, one point, sends it into the realm of the impossible. Lizzie, Ella, and Betsey are clones, yes, but everything else could be pulled from real life. They have trouble with high school (especially Lizzie and triangles), they have crushes on boys and wish they could date, they butt heads with their mother on rules and curfews. They are very much like normal teenage girls, like normal triplets, only they could be considered by some to be far from normal.
(I received an advance copy of this book to review from Hachette Book Group Canada.)