4 out of 4 stars
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What constitutes a life? Is a life worth less when it has been created as a result of genetic modification?
A Fistful of Clones by Seaton Kay-Smith requires readers to consider the questions above. The science fiction novel follows the protagonist, Henry. He is 26, and he seems to be stuck in a rut. He loses his job and his girlfriend in the same day, and he is left without any hope of a light at the end of the tunnel. Desperate and without anything to lose, he signs up to be a paid medical subject, and it all pretty much goes downhill from there. Henry believes he has made easy money, but his life is turned inside out when he is required to cleanup a failed experiment. Informed that clones of him have been made and have subsequently escaped, Henry must do everything he can to prevent his clones from ruining his entire life. However, on his journey he is forced to confront his own apathy and question what he has been told. His journey is one of life, murder, self-discovery and redemption.
Kay-Smith has a gift for description. The settings and various locations in this novel are depicted with just enough detail, allowing readers to picture everything in their minds, without being smothered by too many adjectives. The dialogue is equally wonderful. The conversations between characters give the right amount of insight into their own thoughts and motives, while advancing the plot.
The narrative switch is a great move by Kay-Smith. Henry does not know everything, and if readers were stuck with him the whole time, the narrative would have been lackluster at best. It’s great to know more than the protagonist. Plus, getting into the minds of Greta, Dr. Efflund, Sammy and the clones provides information on why they act in certain ways when we are once again thrust back into seeing things from Henry’s perspective.
The characters in the novel are likable and unlikeable in all the right ways. I think many readers will understand and identify with Henry’s feelings of being stuck, and his struggle to connect with people emotionally, which is shown when he interacts with Sammy. Readers will have to hold back from mentally shaking Henry because of how painfully gullible and naïve he is at certain points. At first, I believed Henry was going to be a static character, but I realized his growth comes with his growing understanding of the meaning of life.
My only critique is that there should have been more time spent on the actual clones. The first few encountered do not really have a lot of personality or weight to them. However, the later ones are scene-stealers. They are complex and interesting. It’s a delight to hear their thoughts, but I wish they had been flushed out further. I was left craving more information about what kind of people they truly are.
I give A Fistful of Clones 4 out of 4 stars, and I recommend it to those who enjoy science fiction and moral dilemmas. I thought about this book long after I finished it, and I questioned my own responses to the essential questions the book asks. Give A Fistful of Clones a go, and be prepared to ask yourself, “What constitutes a life”.
A Fistful of Clones
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