Hi, friends! I’m so excited to be back with another The Fantastic Flying Book Club tour post today for Half Life by Lillian Clark! Huge thanks to the FFBC for organising these amazing tours and to the authors for making the eARCs available to us.
Be sure to click on the banner above to see the other bloggers on tour! 😊
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release date: 09 June 2020
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction
An overachiever enrolls in an experimental clone study to prove that two (of her own) heads are better than one in this fast-paced, near-future adventure that’s Black Mirror meets Becky Albertalli.
There aren’t enough hours in the day for Lucille–perfectionist, overachiever–to do everything she has to do, and there certainly aren’t enough hours to hang out with friends, fall in love, get in trouble–all the teenage things she knows she should want to be doing instead of preparing for a flawless future. So when she sees an ad for Life2: Do more. Be more, she’s intrigued.
The company is looking for beta testers to enroll in an experimental clone program, and in the aftermath of a series of disappointments, Lucille is feeling reckless enough to jump in. At first, it’s perfect: her clone, Lucy, is exactly what she needed to make her life manageable and have time for a social life. But it doesn’t take long for Lucy to become more Lucy and less Lucille, and Lucille is forced to stop looking at Lucy as a reflection and start seeing her as a window–a glimpse at someone else living her own life, but better. Lucy does what she really wants to, not what she thinks she should want to, and Lucille is left wondering how much she was even a part of the perfect life she’d constructed for herself. Lucille wanted Lucy to help her relationships with everyone else, but how can she do that without first rectifying her relationship with herself?
Note: The quotes below are taken from an advanced/unfinished copy and are subject to change in the final version.
Pun not intended but I’m half-half on how I feel about this book. This ended up being quite different to what I expected. It’s more contemporary with sci-fi elements and I think I expected more futuristic sci-fi than it being set in the ‘present day’. I enjoyed the latter half of the book much more than the first half, but I also thought that the ending was very abrupt and all the issues were resolved too easily to be believed—even after having already suspended my disbelief from the start.
Half Life follows Lucille, an overachieving, extremely self-absorbed high school sophomore who is obsessed with perfection — she along with everything in her life must be perfect, but it seems the more she tries, the harder everything becomes. So when things start falling even more apart and she deeply questions her self-worth, she does The Drastic Thing™️ and… decides to participate in a secret cloning program that has chosen her as their perfect candidate. I remember what it’s like to be that age and while certain things that happened with/to her would’ve definitely had me reacting the same way, it was still hard to feel empathy/sympathy for her. There was something about Lucille that made her unlikable, which made it difficult to feel invested in the story, and I honestly much preferred Lucy’s character.
As I mentioned before, things begin to pick up in the second half of the book and we also get alternating perspectives from both Lucille and Lucy. From the start there was already a feeling of ‘foreboding’ but that increased exponentially with the introduction of Lucy. It was really interesting to see how, despite being a facsimile of Lucille, her tone of voice and views were markedly different. I admittedly haven’t thought a lot about the ethics of cloning but I really enjoyed that we explore those questions through the lens of a (sentient) clone. I also liked how Clark explored the idea of a person’s truth–how others perceive something might not be the same as you do, and how important self-acceptance is. It did make me think about what it would be like to be in this situation. If I had a clone of myself, how differently would she (it?) perceive the things that happened to us (me) and how different would our reactions be? With the already interesting backdrop of the story I thought all these ideas were uniquely explored although ultimately I found that there was a certain lack of “punch” to the story, and I think that might have to do with how rushed the climax/ending felt.
Everything, especially the tension, built up very nicely throughout the story but the ending was, in my opinion, a bit of “womp womp” moment. I was shocked that when I checked how much further in the book I had to go, I saw that I was already at the 93% mark, while the thrilling action was just kicking off! Again, all the drama was resolved very easily and while I don’t know how I was expecting characters in the story to react, this full acceptance of a completely bizarro situation, with only a few bats of the eye, was pretty unbelievable. 🤷🏻♀️ There were also elements that didn’t make sense, like how an advanced experimental lab such as this didn’t have cameras everywhere or better security? It added to the whole ‘this is totally unlikely, but okay’ feeling I got from the ending.
As a whole though, I really liked the concept of Half Life. I haven’t read many books about or with the subject of cloning and so that was already a big plus from the go. I also have to mention that while there was a bit of scientific jargon at the start, Clark’s writing is accessible and the content didn’t end up being confusing or overwhelming to digest, even for someone like me who has very limited knowledge of the science stuff 🤣 While the book ended up being quite different to what I expected, it was still a pretty fast and enjoyable read and I’m glad I gave it a go!
Lillian Clark, a graduate of the University of Wyoming, grew up riding horses, climbing trees, and going on grand imaginary adventures in the small-town West. She’s worked as a lifeguard, a camp counselor, and a Zamboni driver, but found her eternal love working as a bookseller at an independent bookstore. Now living in Teton Valley, Idaho with her husband, son, and two giant dogs, she spends her time reading almost anything and writing books for teens..
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