This book is chilling like Frankenstein but so well disguised in a modern YA form that you swallow it all as a delicious drink of emotion and love and rebellion and you also swallow the horror of it because it's just that well-done.
Eva's life is not her own. She is a creation, an abomination--an echo. She was made by the Weavers as a copy of someone else, expected to replace a girl named Amarra, her "other," if she ever died. Eva spends every day studying that girl from far away, learning what Amarra does, what she eats, what it's like to kiss her boyfriend, Ray. So when Amarra is killed in a car crash, Eva should be ready.
But sixteen years of studying never prepared her for this.
This is not a love-triangle book, but it is a twisty mess between the boy that Eva's really interested in (Sean) and the boy that Amarra loved, a relationship Eva is forced to step into when Amarra dies. But this book goes a lot deeper than relationship issues. I quickly realized that Eva has no rights of her own; echos are illegal and completely subject to their creators and "owners". This book ended up being a lot scarier and with much higher stakes than I initially suspected.
Eva is physically identical to Amarra, but she grows up to be her own person despite a lifelong process of training and indoctrination. So for Eva, living as Amarra is basically living a lie. Through carefully crafted writing, you also get a taste of what it means to Amarra, while she's still alive, to have to live with the knowledge that somewhere out there her echo exists - a person her parents authorized as her potential replacement! Then there's all the implications and issues it causes with Amarra's parents and siblings, and eventually her friends and her boyfriend when they discover the secret.
On Eva's side you have her four guardians, who have raised her and loved her for years (basically, her family) and then suddenly have to let her go and sever all contact with her when she's sent to fill Amarra's place. So this wrecks their lives, too.
And if all of this doesn't provide enough emotional angst (which is very, very well done), then you get two absolutely chilling characters, Matthew and Adrian, the Weavers: the people responsible for creating echos and marketing the lie that these people can possibly replace your original loved one.
Matthew was a intensely powerful and scary antagonist. I couldn't believe how much I hated him and how scared I was for Eva because of him. And then there are the Seekers. And the chase scenes. OMG. The last 1/3 of this book was so intense I think I was twitching from nervous tics while reading it. There's this place called the Loom where echoes are made that is freaky because through the whole book you can't help but wonder, just how are they made? We get hints that this isn't some clean, sterile test-tube baby process.
Characterization: a fantastic array of characters. Eva and her guardians (I couldn't get enough of Sean!), Matthew for the evil factor, Amarra and her family and her boyfriend for all the angst and secrets.
Plot: a powerfully executed concept.
Pacing: The hunters could have been used earlier to raise the stakes some more, but regardless, this book kept me riveted and often startled.
Personal appeal: As soon as I read the description, I knew I wanted to read this book. And it delivered. The author wasn't afraid to take her character into her worst possible fears and greatest desires and to pull me in right along with her. It also got me thinking about loss of loved ones, cloning, individuality, freedom, and human rights.
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