What happens when you take a futuristic YA dystopia and mash it up with clones and elite kids at a prestigious academy? You get the absolutely flippin’ awesome, unputdownable duet by Rebecca Hanover, The Similars (Book 1) and The Pretenders (Book 2). We meet Emmaline when she’s reeling from the recent suicide of her best friend, Oliver. When she returns to their elite boarding school, Darkwood Academy, for the fall semester, she is shaken to discover Oliver’s exact DNA replica, a boy named Levi, is also in attendance. Now she has to see the face of the best friend she loved – and lost – every day in a devastating, unwanted reminder.
But Levi’s not the only one. There’s a whole slew of “Similars” — clones — taken unknowingly from the DNA of Darkwood’s top-achieving students, including some of Emma’s friends and enemies, in attendance this year too. The clones’ very existence begins to cause political problems for the famous parents of their DNA originals, and incites the school to anti- vs. pro-clone division. Emma tries to stay out of it, but she can’t help but be thrust right into its very core.
If I have one complaint, it’s that some of the revelations about the staff and the parents’ past connections together near the end of the 2nd act felt a bit too Harry Pottery. I would’ve liked to see something fresher and a little more original. But I can look past it because the sci-fi and thriller (as well as romantic) aspects were on fire.
I devoured both books and suggest you do the same. This is a powerful dystopia series with something to say!