Now Entering The Clone Zone

Now Entering The Clone Zone

BOOK REPORT for Your One And Only by Adrianne Finlay

Cover Story: What Holiday Is This?
BFF Charm: Okay and Yay
Swoonworthy Scale: 4
Talky Talk: He Said, She Said
Bonus Factor: World Building
Relationship Status: Just Friends

Cover Story: What Holiday Is This?

I mean, I get what they're going for here, I think? Good idea in theory, guys, but the problem's in the execution. We've got some Christmas colors, some Valentine's Day imagery, some DNA because SCIENCE. And the actual title of the book seems like a total afterthought, slapped on at the last minute like they forgot to include it. Also this makes me crave hard candy?

The Deal:

It's been a few hundred years since the Slow Plague killed off what remained of humanity. Earth is now inhabited by hundreds of clones, generations of them spawned from the nine scientists who created them. They've perfected their genes in the lab, so they no longer get sick and are able to "commune" with one another, tapping into each others feelings. All of them, that is, except Jack, the lone human left on Earth. The adult clones have made a few attempts over the course of his life to introduce Jack into life with the clones his age, but the other clones hate that he's different from them and have made his life hell for it.

Althea-310 has always felt a little different from her sisters, and hates the way the clones have always treated Jack. When someone starts causing trouble in the village, setting fire to the labs and ruining the crops, Jack is the first suspect, and only Althea-310 believes that there's more to the story. When she and Jack join forces to prove his innocence, they uncover a secret about the origins of their society, and the terrible path it's headed down.

BFF Charm: IDK and Yay

I had a hard time deciding if I should give Althea a BFF Charm. Knowing that there were 9 other Altheas made me wonder how different our Althea was from the rest of them, how much of a clone's personality is nature vs. nurture, etc. I just never felt like I knew Althea-310 very well, and even if I did, were the other clones just like her? She was clearly willing to break from the group when it felt important to do so, which takes guts, but part of clone life is sort of stripping away anything that makes you different. That means clones don't have anything that isn't totally necessary, such as humor or strong opinions - even her inner turmoil fell a little flat. Because of this, Althea lacked the depth and complexity I usually like in a protagonist.

Jack was a bit easier to like. Being the only human in a world of clones, Jack was left to figure out so many aspects of life on his own. Clones don't understand music, so Jack taught himself to play guitar and didn't have anyone to share that with. His experience with sex is much more raw and emotional than the clones'. Having asthma meant that Jack understood the limitations of his own body, and lived with the constant fear of being caught in an attack without his inhaler. Basically: Jack was human, and this made him far more relatable than Althea.

Swoonworthy Scale: 4

For the same reasons I struggled with Althea's BFF Charm, I also struggled with the swoon between Althea and Jack. Jack has an unfortunate incident in the story when he confuses one clone for another, and it made me wonder if a similar situation could happen betwen him and Althea. Because I could never really separate Althea from her clones, I couldn't help but wonder what made her specifically so special to Jack, other than the fact that she'd always been nicer to him than the other clones. I need more than that for a high swoon score!

To add to this, the clones have monthly "pairing ceremonies" in which they pair off to have sex with a different clone for one evening each month. It's so weirdly ritualistic, especially since the clones don't reproduce anymore and all babies are created in a lab. Not exactly sexy, IMHO.

Talky Talk: He Said, She Said

For a book with an entire subplot about ritual sex, Your One And Only actually read pretty young. The prose felt more middle grade than YA. It was so straightforward and simple, there were times when I wondered if Finlay was attempting to mimic the monotony of a world inhabited by clones. I like there to be a significant change in tone/voice when a chapter switches points of view, and I didn't really feel that to be the case here. 

Bonus Factor: World Building

For all my nit-picking, I have to give Finlay credit on her ability to create a world in the not so distant future that felt like a realistic portrayal of what could happen to humanity. And luckily, we got a great history through the OG Althea's scientific journals from back when the clone project was just starting. Coupled with the fact that the books takes place in the balmy jungles of Costa Rica, and it was really easy to picture exactly what life was life there.

Relationship Status: Just Friends

Book, you may be full of science, but you and I lacked chemistry. I didn't connect with your characters the way I'd hoped, but your unique premise and great world-building will certainly have lots of people waiting in line to take my place.

FTC Full Disclosure: I did not receive money or Girl Scout cookies of any kind (not even the lame cranberry ones) for writing this review. Your One And Only is available now.

from Forever Young Adult

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