Book Review : The Similars

  • THE BOOK: The Similars
  • THE AUTHOR: Rebecca Hanover ( instagram )
  • PIP! SAYS: 5/5 PAWS

Navigating high school is like navigating a mine field : you never know if the next step you are going to take is safe, and you never know when it’s all going to blow up. For Emmaline Chance it all blows up first day of junior year. Her boarding school, Darkwood, has just admitted 6 Similars: clones of six Darkwood students. One of the six cloned students is Emmaline’s best friend, Oliver. Only Oliver died during the summer. And on the first day of school Emmaline is faced with a new boy, Levi, wearing her best friend’s face.

Suddenly, junior year is infinitely more complicated. Grades and class rank pale in comparison to the big questions : why are the clones joining Darkwood? Should clones be equal citizens in the eyes of the school and law? Who are these kids, really?

REVIEW: I loved reading this book. I was all in from page one. About halfway through I rearranged my day so I didn’t have to stop reading. About 3/4 of the way through I slowed down my reading pace because I loved the story so much I wasn’t ready for it to end. (There will be a book 2! I cannot wait!)

The best part of this book for me is the way Hanover incorporates real world issues into this futuristic sci-fi book. She writes debates about Clones rights (including a required registry program). She writes about DNA and teenagers and identity. And those struggles are mirrored in the Similars (who long for an identity of their own) and the originals (who feel their identity has been stolen).

For me, I feel in love with this book on page 2, when Hanover writes about Emmaline’s grief over losing her best friend:

Within hours of my best friend’s death this summer, I had faced an onslaught of emotions so intolerable, I felt like a foreigner in my own mind. Grasping for some semblance of order, I began naming my different moods. Example: “A Zombie Just Ate My Body,” which is like being frostbitten and stun-gunned and about 94 percent dead inside. At least that one is bearable, unlike “Get That Serrated Knife Out of My Chest,” which is as painful as it sounds. I spend entire days walking around with the sensation that somebody stabbed me in the best and the knife is still inside.

pages 2-3

As someone who has struggled and failed to adequately coped with grief these words spoke to me. I know exactly what each of these moods feel like. I know what it is to live with that knife in my chest. Though our lives and realities are very different, I felt that I knew Emmaline, that I understood that part of her. And from that moment, I was fully invested in her story and her journey.

This is a beautiful, well written and fantastically paced book. The story moves at a fast pace – as Emmaline navigates her new world, she keeps asking questions, and as she starts searching for answers it becomes clear: this book is also a mystery. The reader is on the journey to the truth with Emmaline: just like she can’t stop looking for the answers, I could not stop reading. When I started this book I had no idea that I would be pulled into a story that had a thriller element – I love thrillers, and this book has a reveal that was as good as any I have ever read.