S. & S./McElderry. (The Side Step Trilogy: Bk. 1). Feb. 2022. 400p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781481496193.
Gr 8 Up–The first in a planned trilogy, this novel tells the story of teenager Laz. He wakes up in a cloning factory on a seemingly empty Earth. Laz is a side-stepper, a person with the ability to travel to alternate timestreams. He can remember the normal life he had prior to waking up in the factory. But when he wakes up there, all the clones are dead except one who is asleep in a suspended chamber. He contemplates waking her up, but that comes with the consequence that she will have to be on this dangerous, empty Earth with him. He chooses to wake her as he believes she may be the key to getting out of this timestream. The two theorize that they must be clones of themselves and set forth on a quest for answers using their abilities to move among the different timestreams. They have an array of adventures and meet curious people along the way. The novel moves at a slow, but steady pace. It is richly textured and heavy with dialogue, but at times can be more cerebral and interior than as expository and action-packed as many sci-fi readers may expect. Card has created an intricate and deliberate plot device with the timestreams that will be novel to many readers. His characters are relatable and likeable; their witty, snappy dialogue will engage readers.
VERDICT For libraries with a strong sci-fi collection that is widely circulated.

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