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.
Partial synopsis provided by Goodreads.
Author: Lillian Clark
Publication Date: June 9, 2020
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Page Count: 304
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
My Rating: ★★★★★
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?
I’m excited to be a part of the HALF LIFE blog tour with The Fantastic Flying Book Club from June 9th – June 15th, 2020!
I received an ARC of this book from the publisher, Knopf Books for Young Readers, via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! In no way does this affect my rating or review.
All included quotes have been taken from an ARC and may not match the finished publication.
Content Warning: Profanity, Premarital Relations, Divorce, Under-aged Drinking & Consent to Scientific Experimentation
Happy parents, thriving daughter. We see what we want to see. It makes me wonder if anyone really knows anyone. Do I even know myself?
From the first page of this story, there is the feeling of “impending doom.” Main character Lucille tries so hard in life, but never feels like she measures up. Half Life is really quite sad. The main character undergoes so much turmoil in life–much of which she puts herself through because of perfectionism. When her parents decide to divorce, any semblance of “normal” is shattered and forces Lucille even further down a destructive path. Unable to confide in her best friend Cass, Lucille ends up distancing herself from everyone that she cares about.
At the end of her rope, Lucille decides to open up a “spammy” email that she continually had been receiving from a company called Life2. Taking a risk, she decides to enroll in an experimental project that will result in a “clone” or extension of herself. Allowing her to have more time to achieve in life, she believes that ultimately, it will be a good thing to try. Once the copy is made, she will have a four-week trial run, then the copy will be returned and decommissioned.
Lucille, with all of her flaws, is incredibly relatable. Doubting that she is good enough, or ever will be, is a feeling that all teens experience at some point or another. Her internalizations make her a very real and complex character.
But I can’t remember a single time in my life where I wasn’t stuck inside my own head. Where I wasn’t thinking about how what I said or did looked from the outside, if it fits into how I wanted people to see me, to think of me. If it fit inside whatever shape I thought I was supposed to take. Smart, pretty, fun, interesting, thoughtful, easygoing, determined, cool. All of it, all at once. Rounding out the edges of the Perfect Girl
It isn’t exactly a shock that Lucille’s clone, “Lucy” also has similar internalizations. Designed to help out another, and never thought of as her own being, Lucy gets the brunt end of the deal. Struggling to find her place in a world where she shouldn’t exist, Lucy undergoes a lot of turmoil.
Am I an abomination> Am I even human? Do I have a soul?
While the two girls initially work together to tackle Lucille’s lengthy list of goals and expectations, it’s easy to see early on that things will soon go awry.
Marco who likes me, who wants me, even though when I think of myself, it’s with a prevailing sense of fear.
Fear of inadequacy, of looking foolish, of being too much or too little. Fear of not doing something, anything, everything right.
I resent it. That omnipresent sense of judgment. Feeling like I could do it all “right” yet still be wrong. Be ambitious, but don’t try too hard. Be capable, but not intimidating. Be attentive, but not clingy. Be aloof, but not unattainable. Be feminine, but not too girly. Be “one of the boys,” but not better. Fast, but not faster. Smart, but not smarter. Funny, but not funniest. Be cute. Be sexy. Be fun. Be likeable.
Despite everything that will clearly go wrong, the reader can easily empathize and understand why Lucille made the decisions that she did. The fact that she used a fake ID to enter into the Life2 program certainly wasn’t a good choice–she also had no idea what she was really getting into. Her desperation made her act out in ways that truly needed intervention. Lucille’s story is a prime example of how dangerous self-isolation can be. Having people in one’s life to check in when life gets tough is what helps us through the darkest parts of life.
I’ve slipped through a crack and suddenly, all the time I spent thinking I was getting to be more like myself feels like fiction, and instead I’m less. Still left out and separate, just telling myself a different lie.
Half Life is a well-developed story, down to the scientific details and dispiriting thoughts and philosophy, which puts its characters through imaginative, but realistic situations that effectively pairs reality with science fiction.
Sexual content: Moderate.
My Rating: ★★★★1/2
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Lillian Clark, a graduate of the University of Wyoming, grew up riding horses, climbing trees, and going on grand imaginary adventures in the small-town West. She's worked as a lifeguard, a camp counselor, and a Zamboni driver, but found her eternal love working as a bookseller at an independent bookstore. Now living in Teton Valley, Idaho with her husband, son, and two giant dogs, she spends her time reading almost anything and writing books for teens.
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Giveaway runs from June 9th, 2020 – June 23rd, 2020.