Friday, January 15, 2016

And Again - Jessica Chiarella

I am not really for or against the cloning of bodies, I see perks to it, I see downsides to it, and right now I don't feel I can choose one that really makes perfect sense. And Again takes a simpler look into the lives of cloned patients, studying their personal identities and lives after cloning is complete. I loved the concept of this book, the characters, and while it was at times simple, the questions it posed and how it made me look at my own life were very significant. I could easily see this becoming a major motion picture, especially with the world's fascination with the future.

Rating: 4 stars
Published: January 2016
Many thanks to Netgalley and Touchstone for providing an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

Amazon Goodreads
Four people with serious health problems are given the opportunity to transfer their brain cells to a perfect clone of their body. There are no freckles, no scars, no horrible pains from their previous body. For one year they must allow doctors to study their bodies and control their medical decisions. They must also meet with one another in a support group, where they find their physical identities have left them, their bodies are not used to their old skills, their relationships feel unnatural. Given this chance to live life again, it isn't as perfect a chance as they once thought.

"These hands are not mine. They are not the sum of my experiences. These hands belond to someone much weaker."

Oh my goodness! This book! I wasn't sure what to expect, but this bit of genius was not it. The four characters, Hannah, David, Linda, and Connie, have left behind their previously dying bodies in exchange for new, limber bodies. While their brains have moved with them, they feel disconnected from this body they are now in. What they think will be a chance to live their life once again becomes a chance to just re-live. Their previous habits haven't died, though their bodily skills have. While Hannah cannot pick up a paint brush like she once could, David finds himself still cheating on his wife and desiring cigarettes. I mostly appreciated the lives of Linda and Connie, how different their lives became after the exchange. I wanted so badly to hold onto Linda as she fought with wanting the simplicity of her old life, one one for no and two for yes. I wanted Connie to break the cycle, to see that beauty wasn't all that should have defined her life. I so loved how Jessica Chiarella tackled the subject of cloning and giving four people new chances at life without a handbook. The questions, the stumbles, and the adjustment to the body and life were written so well. It made me think a lot; how do you go from being ill for so long, relying on those around you, planning your own death, to having life handed back to you, in a perfect form?

"...and tell her see, see, look at me, and how much I have seen, and I still am no wiser than you, little girl."

While I didn't agree with several of the characters, I ended up falling in love and rooting for them. I really appreciated the pace of the book until a little over halfway through, it sped up and I felt like I lost the characters. Their lives became simple, instead of the complex way it had started. I do like that they are lost a lot, only to find a new path, a new way to live, and new thoughts once they evaluated their life from this new perspective.

"But I know the trap in that particular game. If you wish for too long, if you go back far enough, you could wish your whole life away, every choice you made to get you to this point."

While the genre is science fiction, I feel this is more a character study, a look at a person's own self worth. There are four characters and their lives do cross paths, but you read from their alternating POV's and take a look into their lives individually. There is very little talk about cloning, outside of FDA approval, but a lot of discussion on personal perspective. There are a slew of emotions found in this book and you will find yourself feeling alongside the character. I found And Again, and all the questions it poses, so fascinating and very well written. Plus, I was very satisfied with the conclusion. I would definitely recommend this book to just about anyone.

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