Half Life by Lillian Clark
Publication Date : June 9th 2020
Publisher : Knopf Books for Young Readers
Genre : YA / Contemporary / Sci-fi
Pages : 304
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: I received e-copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to PRHGlobal for free copy. ***
Half Life was sci-fi contemporary that revolved around Lucille and concept of cloning. It was about identity, individuality, how cloning affects a person, realising self-worth comes from within, there isn’t anything perfect, relationship and friendship.
Half Life was written in first person narrative, first from Lucille’s POV and after the cloning, from both Lucy and Lucille’s POV alternatively. I liked the concept and plot. Who wouldn’t like if you can be more, do everything, be present at two places at a time without sacrificing anything by having a clone, an exact copy of self who thinks, acts and says like you, with same genes, mind and heart! Sounds exciting right? It didn’t turn out as exciting as Lucille thought.
Lucille felt not good enough even though she was overachiever, she had to keep up at everything to be best but divorce of parents, disappointing grades, fight with best friend, and her crush not paying her attention, pushed her towards something reckless- She saw an ad of Life2, who made her feel wanted, to ‘Do More, Be more’ like its slogan said, by creating a clone. Things started becoming interesting when the clone made- named Lucy- had her own feeling, instead of being like robot. Both Lucy and Lucille had 4 weeks of half-life.
I was curious to find out what will happen when their 4 weeks are over, how Lucy will feel and what will Lucille do with the mess this half-life was going to create and how she will get out of ‘perfect’ obsession.
First half of the book was character introduction, Lucille’s reason and feeling for going through experiment and making of her clone. Second half of the book was about both Lucy and Lucille adjusting with their half-life, Lucy going to school, keeping and mending relationship with Lucille’s friend and her parents while Lucille enjoying her relationship her new boyfriend. This part was both foreboding and interesting.
Lucille was not exactly likable character and I feel it was deliberate. She was self-absorbed, overachiever, uptight, obsessed with perfection with low confidence and self-worth. She saw the world, even her parents and friends, through her mind’ lens. People actually loved and cared about her but all she saw was their expectations and pity. I could see Life2 was deceiving her, I don’t know why she felt great being wanted by them. She was too naïve and I don’t know why boy asking her out is the point she have a spark of self-worth! Her being ignorant and careless towards Lucy was rude and selfish but at the same time she didn’t know Lucy had her individuality and once she got to know about it, I liked she made things right. That development was too late in book for my liking.
Lucy was easy to sympathize with. She gave perspective towards how it feels to be clone, not the original, real self, without real life or family and friends. It made her resentful towards Lucille who didn’t appreciate freedom and life she had and also for being selfish and careless. It was surprising, even being exact copy of Lucille, she was developed and had more awareness like identical twin which was both odd and fascinating. She had her own mind, talent and feelings. She too had her flaws for not trying to talk with Lucille while at least Lucille made a bit of effort some time. She made her mind to hate Lucille. Her feelings were realistic and relatable.
This was mainly contemporary. It wasn’t like futuristic sci-fi as it was set in present day but I enjoyed that scientific jargons, procedure of making clone in initial chapters. Making organs of exact same size, giving it life, filling the body with veins, artery and blood, transferring memory, behaviour and all small things were fascinating to read.
Romance wasn’t the big part of the book but I liked some cute and adorable moments between Marko and Lucille and Bode and Lucy. Heartbreak was inevitable when Lucy started to have feelings with Bode, Lucille’s long-time crush while Lucille for the first time dated and felt more alive with Marko. I knew it will make their situation more complicated but I liked the focus was kept on main issue of trying to mend relationship with each other and what to do when their 4 weeks are over and stop Life2 from taking Lucille away.
All the development, making things right, coming out clean, and actions happened, after climax, in last 20% of the book. This was my favourite and most exciting part in whole book. Content of the flash drive was shocking. What happened after that was both surprising and tense. I liked the end. It didn’t end as I expected, in fact, it was better.
Why 3.5 stars-
Like I said it wasn’t easy to like main character. Middle part of the book was a bit slow. Development and all exciting things happened too late in the book. The soul concept was explored a bit in book but did Lucy really have a soul? I’m still not sure about it.
Overall, Half Life was unique concept, interesting and enjoyable. I didn’t love this but I’m glad I read it. Teens and YAs will enjoy this book.
I hope you enjoyed this post. Let me know in comments what do you think about this book and my review, have you read this book already or any book by the same author. Have you read a book about cloning?
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