The New One by Evie Green (book review).

The car came out of nowhere and didn’t slow down. It didn’t stop. Scarlett did. Tamsyn and Ed sit by their daughter’s side, hating that their last words to her were a screaming argument. The doctors say she might recover, that her brain is not dead and that there is hope. The insurance company, however, has a time limit and, in six weeks, Scarlett will be unplugged and those angry words might be the last they share as a family.

Then a miracle does appear. Not Scarlett waking up but a new medical trial. A new hope. A company in Switzerland will care for Scarlett in their clinic for as long as it takes. She will receive the best care. The company will set Tamsyn and Ed up with a new apartment, with money and with everything that they could want.

All they have to do to get this new life is to share it with an artificial version of their daughter. A replacement daughter that is not too happy to discover that Scarlett has woken up and is coming home.

I read this book expecting bad things to happen. Clones and artificial intelligence together in one teenage girl? A company that mysteriously offers you a perfect new life? Clearly, the clone will be murderous, the company evil and these poor grieving parents will have a montage of creepy discovery in the depths of a secret corporate science lair. Nanobots will escape and wreak havoc. The isolated research facility will have the experiments come after the researchers. Cloned duplicates of living people will be murderous. These are basic rules of Science Fiction and I fully expected ‘The New One’ to deliver on this. Which it did, sort of.

Evie Green played with my expectations. At every new chapter I was waiting for the knives to come out for the bloody ‘clone girl vs real girl’ fight scene. For the company to reveal their clone armies. For any one of ‘science gone too far’ tropes that go as far back as Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’. The suspense I felt was that of waiting for the other shoe to drop because no corporation is that altruistic. No new technology is that simple.

When authors regularly switch point of view I often find it distracts from my immersion in the plot. The changes in perspective in ‘The New One’ did not and instead highlighted a nice place to pause and come back later, making this a great book to take on a commute.

These pauses allowed each character’s view of the tangled moral and emotional dilemma to sit and simmer against the others. Because the novel takes place in a version of the present day and we are all part of some sort of family group, Green has formed a novel that is a deceptively easy read that gently led me to think about what I would do and how I would feel in that situation.

‘The New One’ is well-written and engaging but not so engaging that I missed my stop. An easy read that can’t be as easily dismissed as I first thought. I wanted to know what happened next for the characters. I wanted to know if I was right in my predictions. A petty reason to be an eager page turner perhaps but an effective one. Overall ‘The New One’ is a nice family drama with a really effective SF ‘what if’ overlay that had me wondering if I would accept a replacement person. I recommend this for fans of Sarah Gailey’s ‘The Echo Wife’, but not if you are looking for a traditional thriller or Science Fiction novel.

LK Richardson

March 2023

(pub: Berkeley, 2023. 400 page enlarged paperback. Price: $17.00 (US), £14.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-0-59343-923-4)

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