Cat Patrick’s THE ORIGINALS is an exciting, fast-paced, contemporary science fiction novel about three girls living one life and struggling to define themselves.
Lizzie, Ella and Betsey are all clones of the same girl. Saved from termination by their “Mother,” a biogenetic researcher who carried them to term, the girls were raised thinking they were identical triplets. Now, though, in order to avoid detection by a government that would lock them away in a lab, the girls must appear to live the life of one girl, 17-year-old Elizabeth Best.
"Told in the present tense from Lizzie’s point of view, and completely grounded in a high school reality despite its science fiction premise, THE ORIGINALS will have you hooked from the beginning."
Each clone lives a third of the day, Ella takes the morning shift and attends high school classes through lunch, Lizzie takes the afternoon shift with creative writing, cheerleading and dance, and Betsey takes the night shift which involves a part-time job, a college course, and any extracurricular events. Monitored closely by their scientist mother, Lizzie, Ella and Betsey were content living a third of a life because they had each other, until they realized that there is one thing they can’t share --- boys.
When Lizzie meets and falls hard for Sean Kelly --- a sweet, artsy guy in her creative writing class --- everything changes. Suddenly she doesn’t want to be Elizabeth Best anymore, she just wants to be Lizzie, and she wants Sean to see her as an individual not a third of one girl. Unfortunately, her overprotective and controlling mother makes the executive decision about who they (yes, they!) will “date.” Lizzie’s heart is broken when Dave (Ella’s crush) is chosen because Dave looks much better on paper than Sean. Forced to accept this choice and live a life she doesn’t want, Lizzie starts to question everything, including her mother’s motives and behavior. And when Lizzie discovers that their mother has been hiding things, an exciting, full-fledged teenage rebellion ensues.
Told in the present tense from Lizzie’s point of view, and completely grounded in a high school reality despite its science fiction premise, THE ORIGINALS will have you hooked from the beginning. Cat Patrick does a wonderful job of developing each girl’s unique identity. Ella is the straight-A, brainy, preppy girl; Betsey is the calm, thoughtful and logical one; and Lizzie is defiant to the last and the most determined to lead her own life. Despite their differences, the girls are a team --- there are no catty fights (except about how to do their hair) and they always take each other’s side against their mother. True siblings to the end. One of my favorite things in this book is how as clones, each could sense how the other was feeling and neither could be completely happy while one was miserable.
The mother is a real piece of work. She is determined to control every part of her daughters' lives, even going so far as to monitor the girls' heartbeat and location when they are outside of the house. Even though her behavior is slightly over the top and borderline abusive, it’s also the genius theme of this book. Cat Patrick really taps into the anger and defiance every teenager feels at some point towards their mother, as they attend high school and grow up. The fact that this mother is so completely in the wrong just makes that feeling more obvious and easy to talk about.
While I thought the climax was a little rushed and flat and the ending slightly predictable with all the pieces fitting together too easily, ultimately Cat Patrick makes an important point about being a teenager, the importance of creating a separate identity from one’s family and choosing your own path in life.
Reviewed by Alice Dalrymple on May 23, 2013
- Publication Date: May 7, 2013
- Genres: Young Adult 12+
- Hardcover: 304 pages
- Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
- ISBN-10: 0316219436
- ISBN-13: 9780316219433