I have to confess I picked this book to read just because I was having a hard time finding a book with a cityscape on the cover. And this cityscape might be a little stylized, but there’s a reason for that and I’ll get into it, but let’s take a moment to celebrate Book Bingo incentivizing me to read. Hooray.
The Original is a novella that was produced specifically to be launched as an audiobook, and I honestly love that concept. While I don’t think there is anything that would make it less successful as physical book, I like to think that audiobooks have become so widespread that authors are now considering publishing things in audio format first – it’s neat.
Anyway, moving on…
The story begins with our protagonist, Holly, waking up in a hospital room and subsequently being told she is actually not Holly at all, but a Provisional Replica, i.e. a clone with an expiration date, whose purpose of existence is to find and kill her original, upon completion of which she will be granted the nanites that will allow her to live forever and take over Holly’s life as if she’d been the real one all along. So yes, Pinocchio, you can be a real boy. 🙂
The concept is of a society where all needs of human life have been met. There is no disease, no hunger, no poverty, therefore no real crime. Everyone’s consciousness is backed up. So when someone goes wrong and commits murder and manages to evade law enforcement, the last ditch effort of the government is to create a clone, load it with the person’s last backup, along with all kinds of battle abilities, and tell them to murder their original so they can continue to live.
Holly is told her original murdered her husband and is evading justice, and it’s her responsibility to find and kill her. But Holly loves her husband with all her heart, and as she could not understand what could have driven her to kill him, she is convinced her Original is being framed and it’s up to her to find her and prove her innocence. I won’t go into more detail, because this is a short novella, and I don’t want to spoil it for anyone.
Overall I liked this novella, but didn’t love it. So here’s a small list of pros and cons.
- The world building is kind of awesome. Everything is basically a blank, surgical, sterile canvas, and people can define themes to overlay on things so they can see the world as they’d prefer. This goes from simple things like wall colours, fabric prints and background music, to editing out people so it appears you’re alone in the wilderness when you’re really in a crowded theme park.
- The story is compelling and the authors do a great job with the pacing. It’s fast and action-packed and you’re kept in the dark and on your toes. It’s also pretty short so a lot happens in a short period of time. The time-limit on the PR’s existence also imbues the story with a sense of urgency.
- Although I love the narration, this book includes sound effects which I personally abhor. There is a scene in a club where the music was so loud I could barely hear the narrator. Now other people have read this and they found the music was fine, but I am particularly sensitive to noise.
- This is not technically a spoiler, but the story ends with somewhat of an open ending, and that is a deal breaker for me. I like my books finished, preferably all wrapped up in a little bow, so the ending bugged me.