In the spirit of Station Eleven and The Age of Miracles, this exciting literary debut novel imagines the consequences when four ordinary individuals are granted a chance to continue their lives in genetically perfect versions of their former bodies.
Would you live your life differently if you were given a second chance? Hannah, David, Connie, and Linda - four terminally ill patients - have been selected for the SUBlife pilot program, which will grant them brand-new, genetically perfect bodies that are exact copies of their former selves - without a single imperfection. Blemishes, scars, freckles, and wrinkles have all disappeared; their fingerprints are different; their vision is impeccable; and, most importantly, their illnesses have been cured.
But the fresh start they've been given is anything but perfect. Without their old bodies, their new physical identities have been lost. Hannah, an artistic prodigy, has to relearn how to hold a brush; David, a congressman, grapples with his old habits; Connie, an actress whose stunning looks are restored after a protracted illness, tries to navigate an industry obsessed with physical beauty; and Linda, who spent eight years paralyzed after a car accident, now struggles to reconnect with a family that seems to have built a new life without her. As all try to reenter their previous lives and relationships, they are faced with the question: How much of your identity rests not just in your mind but in your heart, your body?
©2016 Jessica Chiarella (P)2016 Simon & Schuster
The writing was good, but I need at least one character I care about. All of these characters were so self-absorbed and selfish, I really didn't care what happened to them. And although the plot was an intriguing idea, there were holes big enough to drive a tank through. The narrators were good, but they couldn't save this story. If you are looking for a mindless beach listen, this would be fine.
I got a little more than half way through and realized I disliked every single one of the main characters...and their partners. So I stopped listening. Such a shame. I was so hopeful for this story, and intrigued by its premise. Every one has someone they know and/ or love who is stuck inside a body that doesn't represent who they really want to be because of an illness or disability. This story could have been something that represents people who have a fantasy that a sick body can be made whole again while alive on earth. I liked that the characters were completely imperfect. I also found it interesting that each character needed to go through child like emotions again. Unfortunately, the focus on the negative and selfish thoughts ( not to mention how off putting the many multiple uses of the "F-word" was) left me feeling sad and a little sickened by it.
Hannah, David, Linda, and Connie.
Four strangers chosen at random to be stolen from the brink of death given a second chance at life.
They are cloned, and moved into genetically perfect versions of themselves.
But there are unforeseen consequences that come along with the wonder of it all.
Questions are addressed about which parts of ourselves are physical and which are carried with us on a deeper level.
Hannah, an extremely talented artist, seems to have left her muse in her old body.
David has been freed from his old physical addictions but he just picks them back up again.
Linda, who spent 8 years trapped awake in her paralyzed body, is having trouble reconnecting with the world.
Connie too, goes down roads that led to her original destruction.
They all find that a piece of themselves has been lost, that suddenly being a fresh perfect version of themselves comes with some loss and confusion. Reinventing themselves is more than just something physical, and it takes awhile for the rest of them to catch up.
I loved this story. I have imagined a world where something like this would be possible a lot, as an answer to health problems as it was here. Its a popular theme in science fiction.
I enjoyed how in this story, they missed their old imperfections and how they discovered that perfection isn't as wonderful as one would assume because our imperfections are a big part of who we are, they shape us into the person we become throughout the story of our lives.
Of course there is a big upside too: freedom from pain, beauty, a second chance, and the thrill of experiencing everything again for the first time.
The writing was well done, I felt like I was there with the characters, and the narrators were all excellent.
5 stars across the board for this , I recommend it to anyone who finds the subject matter even a little interesting . The story will sweep you up and take you on a journey that will make you think about some big questions, and carry you into the storm to experience all its beauty and pain.
Three terminally ill people and one who was left paralyzed after an accident are given a second chance at life in new cloned bodies. But this book is not really about the science. It's about four people rediscovering who they really are--and what makes them "them." Can they change and become better people? Conversely, can they remain the same even in bodies that did not 'experience' their memories and lives? I was sorry to see it end. Well done, Ms. Chiarella. And very well performed by all four narrators.
I was excited to listen to this book because I was anticipating some genuine insights into human nature and the unfolding of a larger "world view," but I found the book very disappointing in these regards. As several other reviewers have noted, the major problem with this novel is that the four main characters are unlikeable people who have been given a second chance at life and are, to my mind, surprisingly ungrateful and wasteful of that chance. They are simultaneously self-absorbed and unself-aware. I think that Ms. Chiarella wanted us to draw certain understandings from the characters' experiences because she came very close to lecturing her readers on what was obvious to us but, oddly enough, not to her characters. It would have been better had she let these life lessons come through more subtly via the evolution of her characters over their first year past Sub-Life. Unfortunately, what might have been a clever and fascinating conceit was quite poorly executed.
About the narration: I love to listen to Julia Whelan read--as long as she is reading female characters. All of her males, however, sound like hoarse old men no matter the age they are supposed to be. Joy Osmanski did a nice job, but Rebekkah Ross and Corey Brill were simply adequate.
Kind of a struggle to finish. Was more like a Harlequin novel than Sci-fi. The performances were OK
The description of the story sounded like it would be interesting, but this book was more of a depressing drama than a science fiction story. Didn't like it at all. Very disappointing.
The various characters were narrated by different people. The narration was ok.
All of it; didn't like the story.
I kept waiting for something big to happen... And nothing. Very disappointing.
Oh and there's nothing more annoying than to hear a female narrator attempt to "sound" like a male character.
I thought Linda was the most interesting character and wish we could have had more insight into her. Having spent eight years imprisoned in a paralyzed body, I thought the exploration of what getting a new body was fascinating. She was the character whose change in circumstance was the most jarring, and I feel the author could have spent more time exploring it.
Frankly, I think the narrators all did excellent jobs. However, it would have been easier to listen to if they had cast the three female characters as women with more distinctive voices -- all were pleasant and clear, but not so different from one another that they truly made those characters stand out.
Impressive debut novel. This novel is told from the points of view of four individuals, bound together as four terminally ill patients in an experimental program called SUBlife. The cutting edge medical program clones their bodies, but rids those clones of whatever ails them (brain tumor, lung cancer, paralysis, AIDS). While the story sounds like a science fiction plot, it is really more of a character study. The four newly healthy people, given respite from imminent death, meet weekly for a support group and try to adjust to life in their new bodies. Bodies which are free of all blemishes and worry lines, all scars and tattoos, all indicia of a life lived. The book explores what it is like to be brought back from almost certain death, how we interact with those around us who had to grapple with the imminent loss of someone dear, what our bodies and all their wear say about our lives and ourselves, and what cannot be merely transferred to a new vessel. Chiarella includes a number of lovely little hints and details about how these people are changed -- lack of dreams, fertility issues, loss of artistic skill, virgin taste buds and virgin bodies. She does not belabor the science, nor feel the need to exhaustively track down all the hitches that such a consciousness transfer might run into. Instead, it is through the four lives saved and settled into that we get vantage point into mortality and what it means to be human.
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