Review: The Similars

Review The Similars

The Similars, by Rebecca Hanover, is a thriller set at a boarding school in the near-future. The biotechnology to produce human clones exists, but it’s banned in many countries. Imagine the surprise when six clones show up for class at an elite boarding school – and they’re the exact replica of six current students.

From the publisher:

The Similars are all anyone can talk about at the elite Darkwood Academy. Who are these six clones? What are the odds that all of them would be Darkwood students? Who is the madman who broke the law to create them?  Emma couldn’t care less. Her best friend, Oliver, died over the summer and all she can think about is how to get through her junior year without him. Then she comes face-to-heartbreaking-face with Levi—Oliver’s exact DNA replica and one of the Similars. 

Emma wants nothing to do with the Similars, but she keeps getting pulled deeper and deeper into their clique, uncovering dark truths about the clones and her prestigious school along the way. But no one can be trusted…not even the boy she is falling for who has Oliver’s face.

The Similars was a fun summer read. It’s set in the future, but the technology is pretty limited. The story could well have been set in the present, except for the presence of human clones. The tech isn’t the star of this book, it’s the characters and the relationships between them.

Emma feels alone, after losing her best friend and mother, and with a father who works long hours and has little time for her. When her test scores place her in an elite society at school, she’s forced into close contact with several of the clones or “similars,” as they’re called. The other members of The Ten are the stereotypical popular clique, who clash with Emma at every turn.

The Similars explores the theme of inclusion. It’s a time of global debate over what rights human clones should have. The conflict lands at Darkwood Academy when an anti-clone student group organizes protests and demonstrations. Although the Similars seem to have some unusual, almost supernatural abilities, the more time Emma spends with them, the more she feels inclined to defend them.

I really enjoyed The Similars. It’s a quickly-paced thriller with lots of twists, including some big ones that are revealed at the end of the book. They set up what should be an exciting sequel, The Pretenders, which was released just a few months ago.

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