3 out of 4 stars
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It is early in the 22nd century and the world of medicine has advanced in leaps and bounds. Europe possesses many facilities where human clones can be grown from one's DNA to ensure rejection free surgeries, but the USA still deems cloning as illegal. They'll Never Die by Don Calmus is the story of five old billionaires who don't exactly have the intention to leave this world anytime soon and who will do anything in their power to ensure that they stick around forever.
The book follows our five main characters as they look into acquiring an American based company that is working on memory scanning and (currently) illegal possibilities of transferring a fully scanned memory into a clone that has been grown to an equivalent adult age. The book has to deal with the complications of working in total secrecy, moral implications of giving clones a life, social aspects of how a clone would enter society, and philosophical musings on what really makes us who we are.
I really liked the concept behind this near-future science fiction story. I liked how the author was able to take a concept such as recording/transferring memories and create a compelling piece of work that brings together many different applications of that technology such as rebirth, recovery from paralysis, memory/addiction alteration, etc. What I liked best about this book is how it kept me thinking about the nature of consciousness all the way through. The main premise is that these billionaires want to live forever; by transferring their memory to a fresh new body, they think they will simply wake up and continue their lives. It forces you to consider if memories/experiences alone make a person or if there is something more that makes up an individual.
There were, however, a couple of things that bothered me throughout the book. The first was the choice of main characters and how, between the five of them, money was endless and there was no limit to the contacts they had. These men were able to do pretty much anything simply because they were rich and powerful. I find that it takes a bit of realism out of a story when there are zero limits to power and influence. The second, and the thing I disliked the most, was the style of writing itself. It felt like the text and dialogue were forced at times and that the writing didn't exactly flow smoothly such as we'd expect from a professional writer. Sometimes the dialogue seemed unnatural and came off as being awkward. There were times when plans, dialogues, or events were repeated several times over, and although it may be how we would actually go about doing things (describe a plan in our head, tell it to a friend, and then execute it), the repetition disturbed the flow. I found a few instances of typos, but nothing to detract from the story or give the impression that it wasn’t professionally edited.
I give this interesting book 3 out of 4 stars for the thought provoking content and compelling story line. I spent a long time deciding whether the writing style bothered me enough to merit a 2 star rating, but ultimately decided that I would indeed recommend this book to others. Since it kept me interested page after page, I finally decided that the third star was merited. Due to the writing in the book and some of my personal issues mentioned above, I couldn’t justify a fourth star. This book is ideal for those that want a near-future science fiction story and those that are intrigued by the concepts of cloning, rebirth, and the transfer/modification of memories. I would not recommend this book to those who either have an extremely strong opinion on the concept of self or those who have a strong social/religious stigma towards something like cloning.
They'll Never Die
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