The Originals by Cat Patrick (website | twitter)
Publication Date: May 7, 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Target audience: Young Adult
Keywords: sisters, clones, scandal, hiding
Format read: ARC received via Edelweiss (Thank you!)
Summary: Lizzie, Betsey, and Ella split each and every day into thirds. They’re allowed outside their house to spend their third of the day acting as one person, Elizabeth Best. No one knows their secret, but they’re tired of pretending they aren’t clones and desperately wish for individuality.
Two other girls look exactly like you. Your mother has you pretending to be one person. Your days are broken into thirds, very scheduled, and you each only spend your portion of the day outside your home. No one knows the truth about you and your sisters. Why?
Lizzie and her sisters Betsey and Ella have been pretending to be one person since they moved to San Diego when they were nine years old. Due to a huge scandal and to protect the girls, their mother devised a calculated plan and schedule to keep their secret hidden. No one can know the truth.
But what happens when the girls begin questioning their reality?
What if all the questioning reveals that your mother has secrets of her own?
The questioning begins when Ella and Lizzie begin to fall for two different boys and their mother makes the executive decision about who they (yes, they) will “date.” Lizzie’s heart is broken that Sean isn’t chosen and Dave (his repertoire looks much better on paper than in person) is. She has to pretend to be into Dave during her afternoon hours at school when her heart is pining for Sean, the boy who is a talented writer and photographer and makes plans to meet up with her during half time.
There’s so so so much that unfolds in Cat Patrick’s The Originals. First of all — cloning? what? — such an interesting and unique storyline. The concept alone fascinates me. Personally I don’t think I could ever clone something; I would be so let down if this re-created person/animal weren’t exactly the same as the original. What if it had completely different idiosyncrasies? And then there’s the whole psychological aspect of cloning that really weighs on me. What does it feel like to be the replacement? (For the record, I think Patrick tackles the psychological so brilliantly in both of her stories I’ve read — The Originals and Forgotten.)
For Ella, Lizzie, and Betsey, I found it bewildering that they hadn’t really questioned their mother’s decisions very much. There’s this whole element that will really have you reeling from how much the girls are afraid to dive into the truth. Maybe they’re suffering from something like Stockholm Syndrome? More and more, as they dug deeper for answers, I found myself crazily going through the pages. (My kindle couldn’t keep up!) I had to know why their mother would isolate them so much. To trust her or to turn her into the cops? — that was the ultimate question.
It felt so amazing to experience another Cat Patrick book. She sets the scene so well and really makes sure you’re getting a sense of the entire scope of the story while leaving a nice dose of intrigue to keep you glued to the pages. Bonus points also go to The Originals for being a standalone. I loved that nothing was drawn out and the action was continually moving forward to wrap up nicely in one book.
Cat’s other book, Revived, is on my bookshelf, glaring at me, waiting to be read. I might just have to abandon everything else to continue reveling in another of Patrick’s books.