Monday, August 12, 2013

Three's A Crowd

Published:  May 7th, 2013
The Originals
By: Cat Patrick

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
ISBN-13:  9780316219433

A riveting new story from Cat Patrick, author of Forgotten and Revived.

17-year-olds Lizzie, Ella, and Betsey Best grew up as identical triplets... until they discovered a shocking family secret. They're actually closer than sisters, they're clones. Hiding from a government agency that would expose them, the Best family appears to consist of a single mother with one daughter named Elizabeth. Lizzie, Ella, and Betsey take turns going to school, attending social engagements, and a group mindset has always been a de facto part of life...

Then Lizzie meets Sean Kelly, a guy who seems to see into her very soul. As their relationship develops, Lizzie realizes that she's not a carbon copy of her sisters; she's an individual with unique dreams and desires, and digging deeper into her background, Lizzie begins to dismantle the delicate balance of an unusual family that only science could have created.

       Lizzie Best is only living one-third of a life.  She goes to school for the first half of the day, her sister Ella for the second half and their other sister Betsey does all the extracurricular activities, goes to their college class and works their job.  They are all living under the name of a single girl, Elizabeth Best, because they aren't just any identical triplets.  The Best sisters are really clones, who are being raised by the woman who agreed to carry them and couldn't bear to have any of the embryos destroyed.  When she found out that her employers were planning on terminating two of them, she ran away.  Since they were little they've all been living as Elizabeth.  But Lizzie is starting to feel stifled and angry with her meager third of a life.  Sean Kelly comes into her life and Lizzie starts to fall in love for the first time, making her less and less able to believer everything her Mother tells her without question.  And when she starts to uncover some shocking and potentially life-changing secrets, it's up to Lizzie, Ella and Betsey to make the right decision about who to trust and how to use their newfound information.  In the end it'll be enough to transform life as they know it.
       I absolutely adore Cat Patrick!  I have been reading her since Forgotten was first published in 2011 and loved her second book Revived just as much, in it's own way.  Every time I pick up one of her books I know that I'm in for something thought-provoking and completely different from all the other books I've read so far that week/month/year.  This, her third novel, was no exception to that feeling,  But I do agree with some readers that it was a really character-driven book.  Rather than being focused on the possibility of the clones/triplets being kidnapped and used as guinea pigs, this book is more about the moral and individual need to be someone of your own making.  Lizzie especially demonstrates this theme, through her struggles to gain an identity outside of her sisters.  Probably my least favorite aspect of this novel was that the romantic interest between Lizzie and a boy in her class, Sean Kelly, is what triggers her rebellion and outright disobedience to her Mother.  All because Mom decides that they boy the girls can 'date' is Ella's crush, David.
       The relationship between each of the sisters with one another were very realistic in regards to how siblings really treat/feel about each other.  Betsey, Lizzie and Ella all have personalities as distinctive as their situation will allow.  The plot did suffer from all the character-centric development and issues though.  I felt like the action mashed together with the love story didn't exactly mesh, because each of them were fighting to be the dominant focus of the book.  The government trying to capture the triplets wasn't even an issue till pretty much the very end of the book and even then it's wrapped up so neatly that it feels like there was never any real conflict.  Conflict is the element that was definitely absent from the majority of this book (at least on a larger, more deadly scale of measurement.  Cat Patrick definitely knows how to write a page-turner, but I feel like Forgotten had the perfect balance of plot and character development, but she hasn't achieved it since then.  It's the Three-Bears Syndrome.  This porridge is too hot, this porridge is too cold.  Hopefully her next book will be just right.  Until then I would say that overall this was an interesting read especially when spotlighted as a family issue/coming of age story.  As a sci-fi book, not as much.  I would recommend it to people who want something entirely different, with fresh concepts though.

VERDICT:  3.5/5  Stars

**No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book is now available in stores, online, or maybe even at your local library.**

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