They think we’re all contained in strings of code, but we’re so much more than what can be seen through the lens of a microscope.
My synopsis: In Vispera, humans and their long-held values and traditions are irrelevant -perceived as nothing more than historical concepts. In this land consisting of clones formed from nine Originals, Althea-310 is just a face among many. Until one day, Jack, the only remaining human shows up. Jack is different and dangerous, but his genetic code may hold the answers to finding out what’s missing from the clones. When the council decides that Jack poses a greater risk than a solution and decides that he is disposable, Althea-310 is inexplicably compelled to help Jack and she starts feeling and experiencing things separate from the other Altheas.
Published February 2018 by HMH Teen
Printed copy provided by Publisher through BookishFirst, in exchange for an honest review
Genre: YA Dystopian Romance
Themes: humanity, clones, genes, dystopia, individuality, community, sympathy, love, emotions
Adrianne Finlay’s Your One & Only is an impressive debut – interesting, captivating, and original. It is reminiscent of Ayn Rand’s shorter work Anthem, but also resembling pieces from popular dystopian fiction like Lois The Giver and Veronica Roth’s Divergent series. It also is a less complex, but still highly enjoyable version of Emily Suvada’s recent This Mortal Coil.
The world-building is very easy to follow and is scattered throughout, with tiny revelations here and there, instead of overwhelming readers in the opening chapters.
The narrative alternates between Jack’s and Althea’s points of view – both are likeable though I wouldn’t say they were memorable. It’s fairly evenly paced. If you’re looking for super big scenes or shocking revelations, there isn’t a lot to be found here. I think execution of some of the revelations could have been improved so as to achieve greater impact.
As for the romance – I think the cover is very deceiving and a little bit too cheesy – it’s there but I didn’t think it was the main thing.
Beyond the narrative structure and the characters – I think the world of Vispera is very promising and quite something. The premise itself and the almost satirical questions this dystopian world prompts is what I found most captivating:
- In this world, clones have this special way of communicating called communing and at one point, Althea-310 wonders how humans lived without it.
How did they convey feelings to one another if they couldn’t commune? They must have gone through their lives in an unbearable state of uncertainty, trying to guess at people’s feelings all the time, misreading the emotions of even those closest to them.
If we have the ability to accurately read/feel each other’s emotions, would it really make our interactions with one another better? Is that really better? Or is that somehow part of the excitement, and will we feel that we are somehow missing something essential if we no longer have to guess? I think that if we can do so, it will remove that special experience of trying to get to know someone, of showing genuine interest, love, and trust.
- In Vispera, there is no fictional literature. So when she picks up Jack’s copy of Jack London’s The Call of the Wild, she is confused, frustrated and irritated that the story is told in a dog’s perspective.
‘The Council said you were intelligent. You don’t actually believe a dog can tell a story, do you?’
She hated the way he shook his head, like she was the one being dimwitted.
‘It’s not real, obviously. It’s made up.’
‘It is made up. It’s lies. You’re reading about things that never actually happened.’ Althea crossed her arms. ‘Seems like a waste of time to me.’
Even in today’s world, there are still many who don’t understand the importance of fictional works. And I think that’s evident in the guilt we sometimes feel as readers when it’s time to admit what kind of genres we like to read most. For me, fictional literature helps me become more emotionally intelligent – but sometimes, it also helps me ponder intellectual questions that I would have found too boring or too overwhelming if presented in a purely non-fictional work!
- There’s a scene where a group of young children are running around in the playground when one of them fell down and scraped her knee – in order to sympathize with her, the other children scraped their knees on purpose until it was impossible to tell which child was originally injured. What is a world like without sympathy?
What does it mean if we can understand pain only by feeling it ourselves?
- Sharing everything
What is a world like when you have to share everything?
- Doing nothing to prevent cruelty
It’s directly related to the known quote: All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.
Overall, if you like dystopian fiction, this is a super quick but interesting read and you should give it a try.
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