Imitation by Heather Hildenbrand

Congrats to Charlee! You are the lucky winner of The Girl from the Well giveaway. Hope you enjoy the book!

ImitationImitation by Heather Hildenbrand

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

When it comes to books about clones, or sci-fi stuff in general, I’m more than willing to suspend my disbelief here and there. I feel like it comes with the territory and while some may like reading about the complicated things involved, I more than happy to just go with whatever the author says and call it a day. If the author says that cloning has been going on for a long time, I’m fine with that. And in the beginning of the novel, I right there going with the flow, but then we learn about the Imitations and what they’re required to do and everything came crashing down.

Ven is an ‘Imitation’, a clone of an ‘Authentic’ person living in the outside world. Since she was created, she’s known that it was her sole mission in life to know every that there was to know about her Authentic, Raven. Everything from what she likes, to how to speaks, to the little ticks that she does when she thinks no one is watching.

For five years, Ven has known every “intimate” (but not really) detail about Raven, so that if she’s ever made to take on Raven’s duties, she’ll be more than prepared. She isn’t sure when she’ll be called up for duty, but after a few chapters she does and Ven is off to live in the outside. Naturally, she’s nervous about the mission and makes a few hiccups here and there, but soon enough she meets someone that makes her question if everything is really worth it. Is it herself? Nope, but it is a hot older guy. (Older, because he’s 21 and Ven has only been around 5 years……) Anyways, the deeper she gets, the more she realizes that she doesn’t want to be Raven, she wants to be Ven.

I generally like books about clones, especially since there’s always a morally gray aspect to them and I like reading about how the clones feel about themselves and the world that they live in. Even if it doesn’t make sense, or if someone is making clones for no real purpose, I’ll still read it just to see what happens. And even though I did read this to the end, I feel like so many plot points ruined my experience with this.

Normally, I’d talk about how the romance doesn’t make sense, and it doesn’t. Ven and Linc spend maybe a day together before they’re declaring their undying love for one another. Considering Ven hasn’t had much contact with guys, it’s kind of makes sense for her to be a bit thirsty when she sees a hot guy and interacts with him for the first time.

But let’s all remember that Ven is meant to be Raven and Raven loves Daniel, a guy that Ven has never seen before her mission started.

I don’t even like love triangles, but if I was running the company making the clones you better be sure that there would have been one here. Had I worked at a clone facility and it was my purpose to make sure the clones know their Authentic the best, then I’d make sure they know who the boyfriends/girlfriends are. Not only that, but I’d make them want their Authentic’s love interest. Every desire their Authentic feels, the Imitations will feel as well.

Except here, whenever Ven is studying Raven’s life through the videos, the screen always goes dark when Daniel shows up. This is a problem, because whenever Daniel kissed Ven, she recoiled in disgust. That’s not how a trained clone is meant to behave when her sole mission in life is to be exactly like her Authentic.

This clone place clearly doesn’t do a great job with their clones. I mean, how is Ven supposed to be Raven when she’s gets snippets of her life? Also, the name Ven is horrible. If I was the clone factory, I’d make sure the clones only have the names of their Authentic people. So Ven, would only be referred to as Raven. This might seem cruel and even confusing to readers, but considering that the company that makes the clones calls them products and thinks of them as less than human, I wonder why they’d make them feel human by giving them their own name.

I mean, if I had a cat, which I would love to have because cats are adorable and amazing and fluffy and caring, but not too caring that they want you to think that you’re their only one….. if I had a cat and I didn’t care for it, I’d call him/her “cat”, or “hey you.” By giving the cat a name, I’m already establishing a connection and humanizing the animal.

In Imitation, the clones are made to feel like they have no soul, that they’re not human, and that they have no purpose in life except to be there for their Authentic when the time arises. If it doesn’t, then they’re used for organs and whatnot. Basically, the people running this company are horrible. They implant a kill switch on every clone, they make sure you know that you can and will be replaced, and that you have no happy ending if you’re an Imitation, and yet they’re very human with the names. If you don’t care about clones, why call them anything else other than the names of the people they’re meant to be, or a bar code number?

The name doesn’t really matter, but when I was reading about how Ven would watch hours of videos about Raven and yet not know how Raven’s dad or boyfriend looks like, I started to notice so many horrible protocols placed inside of this facility. Worse of all, I kept thinking about how if I was running the place, every single clone would have a burning desire to ”Single White Female” their original.

This might cause problems in the long run, but I feel like this is what would be the best course of action to take in this company.

Regardless of that, I think that’s what my main problem with the novel is the fact that certain things made no sense whatsoever. It was so bad, that I couldn’t suspend my disbelief even if I wanted to. Ven’s desire to be Ven and not Raven happened within two seconds and solidified once Linc said something nice to her. She was screwing up her job before, but this epiphany made it even worse. Her father, her friends, her boyfriend, her security, everyone could see a huge difference between Ven and Raven.

What were those five years for if she can’t completely the only job she’s meant to have?

Speaking of Raven, she’s hardly in the book and Ven hates her like you would not believe for reasons that make no sense. Raven is apparently shallow, vapid, slut, and everything in between. But we never really got to know Raven or why her life was in danger in the first place. I think it was to bring out Ven so she can be recruited by the ‘bad guys’ only the bad guys have the same horrible tactics as the clone company.

If I was a bad guy in this novel…

Overall: Imitation has all of the makings for a really great clone series. I already saw hints of the clones starting a revolution, but once we learn a bit about that the book ends. It just ends.

And yet, that isn’t my problem with the book. It’s not the sudden cliffhanger. It’s not the insta-love that makes the heroine realize her worth and feel like nothing in life matters except the hero. It’s the fact that this world makes no sense.

There are certain things in this book that other reviewers took issue with, but I was able to look past it. But a clone company that trains clones to behave like the originals is so poorly run that I couldn’t handle it. Whenever Ven messed up, I didn’t say to myself, “Stupid Ven not understanding the mission and being useless!” No, instead I said, “This is what happens when you don’t train your clones properly. Things would be so much different if I took over.”

The thing is, I don’t want to think or feel this way when reading a book. It ruins the experience; and unfortunately, that’s what happened here. The book did end on an annoying note though, so I’m probably going to read the next book to see what happens next. I’m assuming that since everything is now established, great things should happen. Hopefully we’ll learn more about this company and why they suck at their job so much.

 
Imitation was provided by netgalley

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The Hit by Allen Zadoff

The Hit

The Hit, aka I Am the Weapon, aka Boy Nobody, is a fast paced action packed tale about a boy assassin whose mission in life is to befriend and kill his targets. And for the most part, it’s delivers on its promises. The first person present tense helps add to the experience, instead of hindering it, and the writing was smooth.

Ben (an alias), came home one day to find that his friend killed his family. Since then, nothing has been the same for our little hero. He’s recruited into the Program to be an assassin and now works for Mother and Father. He learns to fight, kill, and never lose focus during a mission. To think of anything else would be suicidal, in more ways than one.

His latest mission is to infiltrate a prestigious private school, where he’ll befriend Samara (Sam) and then kill her father. Normally, a mission like this takes at least a month. You need to get friend with the kid so that they trust you completely, but this time it’s different. Ben has only five days to complete the task.

What makes this case even more troubling is that Sam’s father is the Mayor. Ben isn’t like other kids, he knows how to get in and out and remain undetected, but soon memories from the past start to creep up on him making him question everything the Program stands for. And soon enough, he’s starting to wonder who he can trust, the Program, Sam, or himself.

All in all, this is actually a really fun book to read. One of my biggest pet peeves is when first person present tense isn’t done correctly. If a writer decides to use that style, then things need to happen. It doesn’t really make sense if it’s slow. Maybe it does, I don’t know, but I haven’t read a book with a first person present tense style that is slow and was good. If you know of any, let me know.

In any case, this book does this writing style justice. I zoomed through the pages and never felt like there was a dull moment. Even when there were slower moments, I still felt the same intensity so it was never boring.

The plot is also good. The idea of using child soldiers, because that’s what Ben is, to kill things with no feeling is interesting. It kind of reminded me of Gunslinger Girl, except without the overbearing handlers and prosthetics. Actually, the only thing that is common between the two is that it deals with child soldiers who are taught not to think of anything except the mission. It’s sad, but fascinating. You want the kids to have a good life, but you also want to know what happens next. It kind of makes me feel bad; but thankfully, it’s fiction.

There are great things about this The Hit, but I didn’t really believe Ben. Sure, he had some scenes where he’s a killing machine and we’re shown this, but for someone who was trained to not think but do, he seems almost too emotional for the job. I mean, the moment he meets Sam he’s smitten by her, which is fine. Really, it’s fine. But he falls hard and fast and starts to think about running away with her. When this happens, he stops thinking clearly. Like when he finds out that Sam has a crazy ex-boyfriend who sometimes gets a little stabby when Sam is involved with a guy, he just shrugs his shoulders and accepts Sam’s affection. After three days together, Sam takes off her clothes in front of him and they have sex.

Not saying this is wrong or right, but for someone who is trained to be a machine you’d think that they’d stop thinking via their nether regions and use their brain here. Something is clearly off here, but he refuses to see it. And when the Program tells him that the Mayor is no longer the target, but Sam is, he starts to question everything.

I get that he sees a bit of himself in Sam and he likes talking to her, but whenever she was around he stopped being a badass assassin.

I was a little disappointed by this.

Overall: By the end, I was happy again and will read the next book to see what happens next to our little Ben. The writing is great and the plot, thankfully, didn’t go into predictable political clichés. The political plot deals with Israel and the Mideast Conflict, so I was extremely nervous while reading this. Thankfully, it’s okay.

Ben is a bit emotional, but if you can get passed this I think you might like it.

The Hit was provided by netgalley

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Dollhouse by Anya Allyn

Dollhouse by Anya AllynKindle Edition, 205 pages
Published May 20th 201

I’ve been trying to figure out how to review this. It did have things that I enjoyed, but things that I didn’t as well. And I’m not even sure if I liked it all that much to begin with. Hopefully, by the time I finish writing this it will make sense.

One day Cassie, along with her friends Ethan, the boy she loves, Aisha, the girl he’s dating, and Lacey, Aisha’s bff, go out in the wilderness to take pictures for class. Things start off peaceful enough; until Aisha starts to see Cassie overstepping her friend zone and getting a little too close to Ethan. Aisha gets annoyed and the next thing you know Aisha goes missing.

No one knows where she is and everyone suspects Ethan as the potential murderer. Ethan, wanting to clear his name, decides to find Aisha himself only Cassie and Lacey decide to join too. They stumble upon a house, break in, go on a merry-go-round type thing, and then get trapped in a Dollhouse. Yay!

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Look Behind You by Sibel Hodge

Look Behind YouPaperback, 238 pages
Published 2014 by Createspace

I’ll start by saying that Look Behind You does first person present tense in the right way. The writing was smooth and the story was fast paced, which is perfect for this particular style.

Look Behind You, other than that it never really comes together. The story could have been an interesting one, except the readers are hit over the head about what is happening right from the get go. Once Chloe, the main character, leaves her prison and talks to someone other than herself, you already know what is going to happen. I’m not even exaggerating.

As I continued on with the story, I kept asking myself, “It can’t be this obvious, is it? Maybe it’s going to pull a Gone Girl?” Unfortunately, it was that obvious and thus it was that predictable. This left me frustrated and incredibly disappointed, because the writing is good.

The author does try to bring in more suspects, but they never produce as much weight as the first one. This wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing. I’ve read stories before where the ‘bad guy’ is in plain sight and the story ended up being great. The problem with how it’s handled here, is that the ‘bad guy’ is so over the top, so in your face, so unredeemable, that it took me out of the story.

I know that we’re meant to question whether or not Chloe is going crazy and if all of this is in her imagination, but that too isn’t done well. I might have felt like she was going insane, due to her not taking her pills, if the ‘bad guy’ wasn’t present as the bad guy. I do like unreliable narrators, but the first suspect is clearly the villain so you can’t ever really question Chloe’s sanity. She’s sane and he’s the bad guy. It is what it is.

Overall: If I had to describe this novel, I’d say that it’s a mixture or the movie Gone, with Amanda Seyfried, and the novel How to be a Good Wife, only the execution isn’t that good and there’s no real mystery surrounding who did it. The writing is good and Hodge kept me reading, but the execution and the characters just fell flat. A novel billed as a mystery-thriller needs to have those things in order for it to be good and unfortunately, this didn’t.

Novel was provided by netgalley

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The Here and Now by Ann Brashares

The Here and Nowebook, 288 pages
Expected publication: April 8th 2014

I’ve never read The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants; the most I’ve been exposed to it was seeing the previews to the movies, which I also didn’t see. So The Here and Now is my first experience to Ann Brashares. Was it a good one? Kind of, yea, kind of is a good word to use here.

When I first started the book, I was pretty into it. I like time traveling stories and seeing what the authors do with them. Sometimes it’s good and sometimes it isn’t, but the journey is usually what I’m after so I was excited to read this.

Prenna comes from the future where the world has gone out of wack and people are dying in huge numbers. In order to save some of the remaining humans, someone created a time machine and POOF they popped up in our time period. They’re saved from their disaster, but that doesn’t mean that they’re free. Since they’re in our world, Prenna and her fellow time jumpers have to live a strict life filled with not exposing their way of life. You can’t change what’s to come, you can’t have relations with anyone other than those who jumped with you, and you are definitely not allowed to tell people the truth about you.

Sounds interesting, right? Kind of like a dystopian like world set in our world. But here lies the problems.

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Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy Hardcover, 240 pages
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There are times when you pick up a book and get completely sucked into the story, so much so, that when you finish the book you simply want to read it again and again. And then another time, just for good measure. And when it comes to ‘Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy’ by Karen Foxlee, I think some readers may feel this way once their done.

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy is a simple story that’s been told before. There’s a damsel in distress, a hero, and an evil witch who is bent on destroying the world. The hero must save the prisoner in order to defeat the witch and save the world. Save the prisoner. Save the world. You know that sort of thing. And with this sort of story, you know how it’s going to end. The hero is victorious and the world lives to see another day, at least until the next villain shows up. But the ending is never the important part. The important part is how the hero becomes stronger and grows as a character in order to succeed their mission.

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Poor Little Dead Girls by Lizzie Friend

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Sadie Marlowe never knew much about her mother. When she was young, her mother suffered from an illness and the only thing Sadie remembers is that her mother was really sad before she killed herself.

When she receives a letter of scholarship to Keating Hall, the school her mother use to go to, Sadie isn’t sure what to expect. She’s not rich like everyone, but this is the place to be if you want to succeed in life. The connections one can get from here are like no other and if she can get scouted for her lacrosse playing, then she’ll have a better chance at getting a full scholarship to play at a top tier university.

So Sadie leaves her home in Portland and heads to Keating. At first, she’s overwhelmed at everything and notices just how different she is compared to everyone else. She doesn’t wear the right kind of clothes, her tomboyish ways doesn’t really mesh with the parties the school throw, the team practice is a lot tougher than what she is use to, and wearing jean skirts to a dance doesn’t seem like it will work here.

Things all change when Sadie is introduced to the Sullas. A secret society, of sorts, that decides to bring Sadie into their little group. Normally, Sadie wouldn’t mesh well with this sort of group, but she since her mother use to be a Sulla, Sadie reluctantly joins them and hopes to find some sort of connection to her mom through them.

Through the Sullas, Sadie experiences what the 1% feel on a daily basis. The lavish parties, the way you can seem to get away with anything, and she even meets the president. Sadie knows that all of this is too good to be true and when she finds out what they are really doing behind the scenes, she starts to wonder if her mother’s suicide wasn’t really a suicide. Maybe, just maybe someone was trying to hurt her and the same people may be coming for Sadie next.

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