Title: The Similars
Author: Rebecca Hanover
Date published: January 1, 2019
When six clones join Emmaline’s prestigious boarding school, she must confront the heartbreak of seeing her dead best friend’s face each day in class.
The Similars are all anyone can talk about at the elite Darkwood Academy. Who are these six clones? What are the odds that all of them would be Darkwood students? Who is the madman who broke the law to create them? Emma couldn’t care less. Her best friend, Oliver, died over the summer and all she can think about is how to get through her junior year without him. Then she comes face-to-heartbreaking-face with Levi—Oliver’s exact DNA replica and one of the Similars.
Emma wants nothing to do with the Similars, but she keeps getting pulled deeper and deeper into their clique, uncovering dark truths about the clones and her prestigious school along the way. But no one can be trusted…not even the boy she is falling for who has Oliver’s face.
This had all the makings of a book with the potential to be good: emotional impact, friendship feels, boarding school drama, clones and an interesting futuristic world, romance…but most of those things ended up fizzling out. I was kind of interested in this book when I started reading it, but was honestly not planning on reading the sequel, so maybe my luck with this one was doomed from the start. So, let us examine my thoughts on it a bit more in depth with things I liked and didn’t like:
- Darkwood. With a name like Darkwood, obviously the boarding school thing was going to be dramatic. I will say THE SIMILARS delivered on the promise of mysterious boarding school shenanigans, complete with a secret society. I guess the Ten isn’t really a secret society, since the whole school and the headmaster knows that the top testing students land a place in the Ten, but they might not know about what goes on at the group’s midnight meetings. Darkwood also came equipped with misfits, outcasts, and queen bees to fulfill all your boarding school drama dreams.
- The characters were lacking. My main quip with this book is honestly mostly the character development. Emma might be the protagonist, but she doesn’t seem like a super important part of the story until A Twist at the very end of the book. My issue with her and the Similars is that none of them felt like real teens. They didn’t do teen-y things and were too serious and definitely didn’t talk the way teens talk. They also all spoke the same way and nobody had a unique voice, so it was sometimes hard to keep the dialogue straight.
- It didn’t feel like real YA. I mean, it is YA, but it felt like what adults *think* YA should be. I was looking forward to the book mainly for the tropey stuff, but I thought it would be *new* takes on the tropes, but everything ended up feeling very formulaic. It was like, “oh, YA has pretty people, boarding schools, bitchy girls who want to ruin everyone’s lives, drama, and, let’s not forget, romanceeeeee”
- Everything felt forced. Especially at the end, the drama was super forced, especially since they literally go in someone’s memories and see what motivated their entire scheme, which was not only boring, but a really lame entire chapter of info-dumping. I also didn’t believe most of the relationships, including Emma’s friendship with Oliver, because we didn’t see it, we are only told how they were such great friends. The romance was expected but still didn’t feel real, and the first kiss felt like lip mashing for the sake of lip mashing.
- I didn’t predict all of the twists. Initially, I did think I was going to be able to predict most of the twists, which turned out not to be the case.
- Pacing. The pacing was okay for the first 75%, but after that, the plot really rushed and felt awkward. Everything seemed to happen all at once, plus we had the info-dump chapter where we learned way too much, and had generally no time to react to new information. Plus, a major twist was dumped in the last chapter, but the book continued slightly after that. It felt like a lot of moving forward and stopping suddenly.
I don’t know why it happens that I always end up reviewing books I don’t like. Maybe I need to read different books? Or not read books that I am not extremely excited about in the first place? I don’t know. But either way, this book was very disappointing, awkward, and did not live up to my hopes for it. Alas.