Book Review: Clone Crisis by Melissa Faye

This is a book review for Rosie’s Book Review Team.

Clone Crisis is the first in a new young adult, dystopian series. The book is set in a 25th century world where cloning has replaced reproduction. Careers and education are assigned by DNA, rather than talent. Without any parents or family, Yami is brought up to follow the slogan: what’s best for the community is best for all. However, she begins to question this, wondering if what’s best for the community may not be best for anyone.

My Photo [Clones Crisis].jpg

Clone Crisis shares some similarities to The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins or the Divergent series by Veronica Roth. In style, it also reminded me of another good YA book I read called UnBlessed, written by Crystin Goodwin, another member of Rosie’s Book Review Team.

The dystopian idea of a fertility crisis it immediately makes me think of novels like Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale or Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. Plus, filling the entire world with replicas of a previous generation is a chilling prospect.

Clone Crisis has some fun scenes and it has an interesting cliff-hanger, leaving space to explore the consequences of Yami’s actions.

Speaking of Yami, I thought the character names (e.g. Yami, Etta, Vonna) were almost at risk of being weird for the sake of being weird. A small thing to notice, I know, and not a serious issue (other names like Katniss, Triss, or Kisara aren’t exactly normal either).

I also thought some of Yami’s interactions with Ben, her ex-boyfriend, were a bit clunky. I understand things can be frosty between exes, but their dialogue came across as unintentionally awkward.

As a piece of feedback, I think the overbearing, authoritarian nature of the community leaders could be emphasised more, in order to clarify the cruelty of the community and help the reader support Yami’s own actions more.

However, I really don’t have much to nit-pick. Clone Crisis was an enjoyable read, and if you like the dystopian titles I’ve already mentioned throughout this book review, I’d recommend this series to you.

Star Rating: 4/5 Stars

Clone Crisis is available to buy as an e-book from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com.

– Judith

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Book Review: The Scarlet Letter

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne is an American novel of pseudo-historical fiction about Hester Prynne and her illegitimate daughter Pearl. Following Hester’s extramarital affair while her husband is overseas, she gives birth to a child, and is condemned to wear a scarlet A stitched upon her clothing as a sign of her sin.

According to my research, Nathaniel Hawthorne, read extensively about Puritan history – that much is evident by religious language and references – and may have based his novel on the story of Mary Bailey Beadle, a live-in housekeeper for a minister. Gossip spread about them living together, and the pair were fined.

The Scarlet Letter begins with an introduction and preface; I skipped both. I don’t think I missed much.

It becomes quickly becomes apparent the message Hawthorne is either satirising or endorsing: women who have extramarital relationships are fallen and they alone are responsible for the sin. I suppose the phrase ‘It takes two to tango’ hadn’t yet come into usage by 1850.

My reading of The Scarlet Letter is that Hawthorne intended to mock Puritan society. There’s just too much irony for this not to be a satirical work:

  • It’s ironic that the townspeople who judge Hester for her sinfulness for being sexually deviant mark this judgement plain by staring … at Hester’s bosom, where the scarlet letter just so happens to have been stitched.
  • It’s ironic that Pearl’s father refuses to admit his paternity, so as not to besmirch his reputation, yet is on the committee of people querying whether Hester is a fit mother, wondering whether to remove Pearl from her care.
  • It’s ironic that over the course of the novel, Hester lives a quiet, penitent life whilst Pearl’s father becomes overcome by his guilt and shame.

It was sad that there was so much hatred and judgement for Hester – especially as this was all passed on to little Pearl too, who has done nothing wrong except, in the eyes of the townspeople, be born.

I really liked the supernatural elements of the book. I love anything with Gothic or horror undertones, and Pearl is often suspected of being an elf or demon by the townspeople because of her wilder, unruly nature; she wasn’t conceived within a Puritan marriage, you see, so of course she can’t be well-behaved.

I liked the Gothic descriptions of Hester and Pearl, and the way in which Pearl’s father is suspected of black magic or a supernatural illness due to his deterioration in physical and mental health. Of course, his decline in health is really caused by his guilt at witnessing Hester take all the blame upon herself.

The Scarlet Letter was a short book to read, but for me, it began to drag 2/3 of the way in. There doesn’t seem to be much action; the focus is largely on Hester trying to move on with her life, Pearl’s father wrestling with shame, and the “revenge” plot of Hester’s husband which, in my opinion, wasn’t an exciting subplot at all.

It wasn’t as sensational as I thought it was going to be – although perhaps for the time it was.

However, the final chapter was an exciting ending; all secrets were revealed, and characters were confronted with their wrongdoings.

Did everyone face justice? Well, you’ll have to read it and find out.

– Judith

Book Review: The Escape

The Escape is a psychological thriller by C.L. Taylor.

The Escape begins with a stranger confronting Jo Blackmore, making threats against her husband and daughter.  Jo is terrified and thinks she is being stalked, yet nobody believes her family is danger. Taking matters into her own hands, Jo takes her two year old child and runs.

 My mum recommended The Escape to me, saying it was tense and gripping.

I agree; the novel begins immediately with a gripping hook, and I liked the stalker storyline. Taylor’s writing style also brilliantly captured Jo’s fearful and intense paranoia of everything and everyone around her.

However, I was frustrated by how unwilling Jo and, seemingly, everyone around her were to call the police. I know Jo was deeply frightened and therefore hesitant to call – that’s understandable. I don’t understand why every other character also seemed to put off calling the police for the most trivial reasons – meaning the stalking could conveniently continue to advance the plot.

I liked the second half of The Escape more, once Jo is on the run. Pieces of the puzzle began to make sense, and it felt like there was more going on. It was also interesting to see the lengths Jo would go to protect the identity of herself and her daughter.

Jo is definitely the most interesting character in the book. She’s clearly a dedicated mother, yet she struggles to move on from upsetting events in her past, which leaves her vulnerable and fearful for her new family, making the perfect target.

Personally though, I wish the antagonistic characters in The Escape were better developed. The book includes infrequent first-person narration from the mysterious stalker, interrupting the main narrative.

Yet, I don’t think these parts gelled as nicely with the rest of the book because they read like overly angst-filled diary entries, rather than anything scary.  I think these sections could have worked better if they were written as intimating letters, perhaps, and sent to Jo’s house instead. This would increase the tension both for Jo and readers, surely.

In short, I wanted the antagonists to be more villainous, which is an odd criticism to make. I just didn’t think they were threatening enough, and could be seen as some fairly disgruntled people simply pretending to be ‘baddies’.

I still liked The Escape, but it didn’t quite tick all the boxes for me.

– Judith