Monday, July 23, 2018

#Review - Strange New World by Rachel Vincent #YALIT #Dystopian

Series: Brave New Girl # 2
Format: Hardcover, 368 pages
Release Date: May 8, 2018
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Source: Library
Genre: Young Adult Fiction / Dystopian

In a world where everyone is the same, one girl is the unthinkable: unique. The second and final book in this high-stakes, fast-paced sci-fi series from New York Times bestselling author RACHEL VINCENT.

Dahlia 16’s life is a lie. The city of Lakeview isn’t a utopia that raises individuals for the greater good; it is a clone farm that mass-produces servants for the elite. And because Dahlia breaks the rules, her sisters—the 4,999 girls who share her face—are destroyed. She and Trigger 17, the soldier who risked his life for hers, go on the run, escaping into the wild outside the city walls. But it turns out Dahlia has one remaining identical, one who shouldn’t even exist.

Waverly Whitmore is teenage royalty, a media sensation with millions of fans who broadcasts her every move—including every detail of her wedding planning, leading up to the day she marries Hennessy Chapman. Waverly lives a perfect life built on the labors of clones like Dahlia. She has no idea that she too is a clone…until she comes face to face with Dahlia.

One deadly secret. Two genetic sisters. And a world that isn’t big enough for both of them.

Rachel Vincent's Strange New World is the second and final installment in the Brave New Girl duology. The story picks up right where Brave New Girl left off with the shocking meeting between what will become co-protagonists Dahlia 16, and 18-year old Waverly Whitmore. Since the story now alternates between the two characters, let's begin with Waverly. Waverly is known as the people's princess. She's got her own TV crew and millions followers who keep track of everything that she does, including her run up to her pending nuptials with Hennessy Chapman who she adores wholeheartedly.

Waverly also has two supportive parents and lives the a perfect life built on the labors of clones like Dahlia. She has no idea that she too is a clone…until she comes face to face with Dahlia. Waverly must face the truth about her own beginnings, her own choices, as well as that of her mother's before she is able to move forward and stand against the Administrator who knows her secrets. If you are looking for a character who grows the most, I would have to say that would be Waverly.  

For Dahlia, the big lie about all the things that she's been told, including the reason for Lakeview, is ready to bubble up and blow things wide open everyone. Dahlia is part of a group of 5,000 clones who all look alike and were made for a certain job. After Dahlia and Trigger escaped, Dahlia believes that all of her sisters have been destroyed which leads to questions as to why Waverly is still alive, and what makes her so special. In this world, there aren't supposed to be any individuals. There's not supposed to be conception by old ways any longer. Only by cloning. Or, so Dahlia was told.

Dahlia, who is really the original, not Waverly, and Trigger who is a special forces clone with superb understanding of technology, are supposed to be manufactured clones which are sold around the country as part of the Administrator's "business plan." The issue? All clones have an expiration date, except for Dahlia. The story really gets twisted when Dahlia accidentally gets Waverly's wedding day tattooed on her arm and has to pretend to be Waverly until the time when she is able to have it redone. 

Dahlia takes an unexpected stand against the treatment of clones which will definitely set things up for a really good ending to the series. Dahlia's stand opens the eyes of Waverly who goes from a spoiled princess, to someone who finally sees the world through the eyes of those less fortunate than herself. While Dahlia spent 16 years of her life in isolation from the outside world, Dahlia lived the American dream. As Waverly teaches Dahlia to be more like her so she can pass the public's scrutiny, she also begins to grow closer to a servant named Julienne and learns what Lakeview does to clones right before they send them out into the public for various uses. I'll admit. Dahlia definitely was the character who grew the most, and had to in order for this final installment to work. 

In the end, this is a entertaining finale with just the right mix of romance, action, suspense, and adventure. I think that I am still on the fence over the idea of using clones to work jobs that supposedly nobody else wants. Imagine a future where out of control corporations are allowed to clone as many workers as they want. Imagine that clones humans out of work forever. Would there be a resounding anger against this idea? Or, would society be happy that they no longer had to deal with low skill job sets? I dare say that I hope I am not alive when that day arrives.

With my foot tapping an impatient rhythm on the floor, I poke the air in the direction of the transparent screen covering the far wall of my bedroom. A clock appears in the center. It’s 12:08 a.m. Seren Locke’s birthday party has just ended, and my friends will be posting about it on their way home.

I flop back onto my bed. I’m not going to look. Only a loser would obsess over a party she missed.

For two whole minutes, I stare at the ceiling of my room. Then, with a groan, I give in and poke one of the icons on the screen. A long stream of messages covers my wall. To the left of each message is a photo of the person who posted it. Some of the messages are pictures. Others are short video clips, playing silently because I’ve disabled the sound; I don’t want to hear about all the fun my friends had without me.

My bedroom door slides open with a whisper, startling me, and I swipe my hand at the screen, closing the message stream. The e-glass fogs over, then becomes transparent again, showing the wall behind it, which is painted in subtle stripes of ivory and honey milk. Or, as my fiance describes the colors, white and a little less white.

“Knock, knock,” my father says from the doorway, though the door is open. I’ve set it to let him in but to keep my mother out. Of course, she can override the settings, but the fact that I want to keep her out is enough to make my point.

My dad doesn’t say anything, but he saw my screen. He knows I was secretly stalking my friends. “What, no camera crew today?” He glances around my room in mock disbelief as he steps inside, carrying a covered tray.

“What would be the point?” I get up, and the pink-and-white comforter smooths itself out, leaving a flawless, wrinkle-free finish. “Why would the world want to see me sitting here staring at the wall?”

He smiles as he sets the tray on my dresser. “The world wants to see everything ‘the people’s princess’ does.”

I shrug. I have fun playing princess on camera, but my father knows me like my followers and cyberstalkers never will.

“You know, we have servants to do that.” I lift my chin at the tray.

“I am aware. But when your daughter already has everything, sometimes the only thing left to give her is a personal touch.”

“That is so cheesy.” I roll my eyes, but I can’t hide my smile.

“Actually, it’s chocolaty.” He pulls the lid from the tray, revealing two steaming mugs of something divinely sweet-smelling. “Organic Swiss cocoa.”

“Mom’s cocoa?”

He nods. “First shipment of the season.”

Okay, yes, it’s just hot chocolate. Except that the cocoa beans this chocolate comes from are organically harvested from a farm overseas. Grown in actual dirt and watered by hand. Harvested by hand. Dried and processed by hand. Packaged by hand.

All that specialized labor makes the cocoa insanely expensive.

My mother has a cup with breakfast every morning.

“And .?.?.” My father lifts a smaller dome lid from an opaque glass bowl at the back of the tray. “Hand-cut chocolate-hazelnut marshmallows.”

“Does Mom know you dug into her stash?” I take a mug and use a tiny pair of tongs to drop two large, fluffy marshmallows into it. A glance at the thermostat on the side of the mug tells me it’s set to keep the contents at perfect sipping temperature.

“We’re celebrating. Let me worry about your mother.” My dad picks up his own mug, then settles into my desk chair as I sit on the edge of my bed. “I assume you’ve seen the ratings?”

“The second they were posted.” I consider a modest shrug, but modesty isn’t really my thing. So I give him a huge grin. “Highest viewership of a reality show ever recorded. The proposal episode broke the record.”

“My daughter, the most famous person in the world.” He takes a sip. “So why aren’t you swinging from the chandelier?”

I give him a look. He knows exactly why I’m sulking. How ridiculous is it that I am the single most valuable asset on network and I’m grounded?

“Waverly, are you really going to let one missed party overshadow the good news? Why wouldn’t she let you go, anyway?”

I tuck my legs beneath me on the bed and blow into my mug. “I honestly have no idea.” My father arches one brow at me, but I talk over his skepticism. “No, really. She just said I couldn’t go. No reason. She won’t even talk about it.”

“That’s strange.”

Normally, my mother is logical to a fault, but .?.?. “It’s like she has something against Seren. She grounded me last year on his birthday too.” I pluck a marshmallow from my cocoa and bite into it, frowning as I chew. “And she dragged us all on vacation during Sofia’s birthday party this year, remember? Maybe it’s not just Seren she doesn’t like, but the whole Locke family.?.?.?.”

“I think you’re reading a little too much into it,” my dad says.

“Or maybe it’s Seren and Sofia’s mother. The Administrator could creep anyone out.” I take the first sip from my mug. The cocoa is decadently sweet and creamy. The kind of thing I should be enjoying on camera.

“So why is missing this party such a tragedy, anyway? There’s still a cyber-blackout at Lakeview, right?”

My silent sip tells him more than actually answering would.

“Ah. That’s it,” he says. “What happens in Lakeview stays in Lakeview, right? Because of the blackout.”

There are only two parties a year in Lakeview—Seren’s birthday party and Sofia’s birthday party—and because the Lakeview compound is a digital dark zone, you can do whatever you want without worrying about video showing up online. While you’re there, it’s like you don’t really exist, except to the other people at the party. It’s liberating, in an oddly low-tech way.

At least, that’s what I’ve heard.

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