This fall, six new students are joining the junior class at the elite Darkwood Academy. But they aren’t your regular over-achieving teens. They’re DNA duplicates, and these “similars” are joining the class alongside their originals.
The Similars are all anyone can talk about. Who are they? What are the odds that all of them would be Darkwood students? And who is the madman who broke the law to create them? Emmaline Chance could care less. Her best friend, Oliver, died over the summer and it’s all she can do to get through each day without him. Then she comes face-to-heartbreaking-face with Levi, Oliver’s exact DNA copy and one of the Similars.
Emma wants nothing to do with the Similars, but she keeps getting pulled deeper into their world. She can’t escape the dark truths about them or her prestigious school. No one can be trusted, not even the boy she is falling for with Oliver’s face.
Wow. Just bloody wow. This has been one of my anticipated reads ever since I read the synopsis back at the beginning of 2019 – a girl’s best friend dies and then a clone of him shows up at her school, count me in! The whole cloning storyline was absolutely fascinating on it’s own and the divide between America on whether people supported the operation or not was intense. The six students that arrive at Darkwood Academy are the perfect representation of how people were taking the news – some of the originals welcomed their clones in to their world with open arms and the others did everything they could to get rid of them. I could see it from both sides really, someone had messed around with DNA for their own advantages. That being said, I couldn’t have loved the clones more and I wanted to jump in to the book and stand by their sides in support, when other students decided to come together in an attempt to protest that the clones should not be treated like human beings and just a science experiment gone wrong. It’s pretty ironic though, how the clones seemed far more human than their own originals.
My heart really did ache for Emma though, when her best friend reappeared in the clone of new boy, Levi. Their first meet scene was intense to say the least and I think I probably would have somewhat the exact same reaction if I was face to face with my dead best friend. It was threatening towards Emma, she couldn’t understand why somebody would be so cruel as to bring her best friend back in to her life when she had spent so long in grieving. The thing is though, the picture was much bigger than her mind had comprehended. Emma is hands down my favourite YA character to read about this year so far. She is such a grounded character, not afraid to stand up for what she believes in and her mind is a very powerful place. She wasn’t going to allow a clone of her best friend to walk freely amongst the other students without digging around a little further to figure out who created them and why they were here. She spent a lot of the book trying to become acquainted with Levi, in order to investigate further, however it’s clear to see she wasn’t totally prepared for what she was going to discover, I mean, who would be?
Let’s talk a little about the Clones; Ansel is the Clone to Archer, a Hollywood Star in the making. Although Ansel isn’t a prominent character to Emma’s story in this book, we do learn that he is getting along with his original family very well and the two have grown to become quite brotherly. Jago is the Clone to Jake and without putting it too harshly, I felt these two characters were the least relevant and the most forgetful. If I remember correctly though, the two got along as well. Theodora is the Clone to Tessa and is the Clone I felt the most for – she is such a sweet girl who’s only dream in life is to be welcomed by Tessa and her birth parents, however they dismissed her immediately and made it clear from the get go that they wanted nothing to do with her. Maude is the Clone to Madison, which I guess you could say makes her the leader of this group, as Madison is also the leader of her own friends – the two of them didn’t get along, the same as Tessa and Theodora, however the difference was neither of them really cared about their dislikes towards one another. After Tessa, I definitely loved Maude, she was there to help Emma every step of the way and had some serious hacking skills which came in handy plenty. She was the complete opposite of her original, making her a special attribute to the Clones, like Theodora. Pippa is the clone to Pru, one of Emma’s best friends and room-mate. She is my favourite Clone hands down, always there for Emma as a back up best friend when Pru wasn’t around and soon enough, she wasn’t a back up anymore, but just a true best friend to both Emma and Pru. Now, our final Clone is the one that had me desperate to read this book – Levi, Clone to the deceased Ollie. Despite Emma’s immediate hatred toward the boy, I really liked him because he understood Emma’s anger and was more than happy to let her vent as much as she wanted. He couldn’t stand being the Clone to someone who wasn’t alive anymore because that gave him less opportunity to develop his own personality and life. He would always be known as the Clone of Ollie, the boy who committed suicide. He knew he would never be able to replace Ollie, nor did he want to and there was just a really special place in my heart for him. He allowed Emma in to his world, told her his secrets and helped her with getting to the bottom of everything once and for all.
I think the overall conclusion to this whole review is: I LOVED IT!! The writing had me fully immersed to the point where I could not put the book down. I would definitely say this story is probably suitable for people of ages 14+, as it is a fast paced thriller about identity and love. If I still haven’t sold you yet then let me just quickly sum up the plot twists woven in to this story… OH. MY. GOODNESS. For the last few chapters of the story, my mouth was permanently sat wide open because it was plot twist, after plot twist, after plot twist and the majority of them I did NOT see coming. The final twist had me rushing to the second book immediately, because I just had to know what the heck was going to happen after this shocking revelation. I don’t tend to read a lot of science fiction books, however, when I do all I think to myself is WHY DON’T I READ THESE MORE!!?? The Similars I would say is Gossip Girl meets Umbrella Academy meets Divergent. Therefore, if you love one or all of those, this is most definitely the book for you. You won’t regret it one bit.