Half Life

Knopf. Jun. 2020. 304p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780525580508.
Gr 9 Up–Aware that she is a privileged white girl, Lucille Harper is still one pretty insecure teen. Her academic ambitions make her feel socially awkward, but she can’t give them up. When her best friend Cass begins a serious relationship with another sophomore, Lucille’s jealousy distances her from the one person she trusts and Lucille realizes she doesn’t quite have it all. Enticed by the advertising slogan “Better than perfect” for a company called Life2, or Life Squared, Lucille rashly agrees to allow herself to be cloned, knowing she should not have signed the company’s nondisclosure agreement, or produced a fake ID to pass as 18. Nevertheless, she and Lucy—her Facsimile, as she’s called—allow Lucille to double her opportunities for improvement. Alternating chapters by character mitigates some but not all of the narrative confusion as Lucille meets Marco at a summer job and experiences her first romance, leaving Lucy to cover for her at school when classes resume. But this doppelganger has the same crush on another boy, Bode, that Lucille did, and maybe still does. Clark’s neat take on the relationship between the cloned and the replica is that Lucille still doesn’t have it all, and what she does have, Lucy may be even better at. The overachiever is such a familiar character type, but Clark makes this territory fresh, and teens questioning their own self-worth will be drawn to this novel.
VERDICT A miserable perfectionist grows into herself while discovering she’s only human, in a novel that is near-future enough to appeal to sci-fi fans as well as general audiences who like to ask, “What if?”

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