Sunday 11 June 2017

More of Me, Kathryn Evans

I have grown in strength inside her. Filled her cells with mine until we must split apart. It's not my choice - that's how it's always been for us. 

Teva goes to school, studies for her exams, and spends time with her friends. To the rest of the world, she’s a normal teenager. But when she goes home, she’s anything but normal. Due to a genetic abnormality, Teva unwillingly clones herself every year. And lately, home has become a battleground. When boys are at stake, friends are lost, and lives are snatched away, Teva has a fight on her hands—a fight with herself. 
As her birthday rolls around, Teva is all too aware that time is running out. She knows that the next clone will soon seize everything she holds dear. Desperate to hang on to her life, Teva decides to find out more about her past . . . and uncovers lies that could either destroy her or set her free.

* * 
2 / 5

More of Me is based on a pretty unique concept. Every year, Teva splits in two. The old Teva, the one who keeps the proper memories and consciousness, stays at the same age whilst the new Teva adopts her life, going to school and picking up old Teva's friends and boyfriend. Our Teva is sixteen and she refuses to let go of her life. She doesn't want to lose her life, her boyfriend, her future career to the self growing under her skin, and she'll do anything to stop her breaking out. 

The basic idea is really good and I was kept awake quite late by this book, frantically flipping pages to try and find out the truth. Why is this happening to Teva? Why won't her mother let her see a doctor? Why does her boyfriend prefer Fifteen to her, even though they're the same person? Is Teva, after all, just absolutely insane? I really wanted to find out. However, the book was dragged down by a love triangle and too much focus on Teva's school life.

I burned inside, at the unfairness of our lives

Teva lives with her mother and her "siblings". There's little four year old Eva, then Six through to Fifteen. Imagine being immortalised at thirteen, forever into anime or being goth or loving Justin Beiber. Awful, right? Now imagine that your thirteen year old self lives with you, in your massive house with an industrial gate around it, and is forbidden to leave. Then there's Six, who constantly picks at the wallpaper, Eleven who's really into mystery novels and wants to be a detective, Eight who stuck in an Enid Blyton fantasy land, and Fifteen who hates your guts because, well, she's fifteen and eternally rebellious.

Alongside all this, Teva tries to act normally to her best friend Mads even though most of her memories are fuzzy. She only inherits the memories her earlier selves thinks are important, so small details of her life slip away from her. Then there's her boyfriend Ollie who is, to be quite honest, a bit of a douchebag; when Teva gets upset at his flirting with another girl, he brashly informs her that she is overreacting, but when she arranges to help a boy in her textiles class out, Tommo, with his English work in exchange for tips on her textiles portfolio, he gets angry and confrontational. I don't believe I have ever  been a fan of love triangles, but this one is particularly dull: there's virtually no tension or anything particularly interesting going on, which is unfortunate.

"We all change, don't we? I used to love endless reruns of Top Gear but now ... actually no, I still love endless runs of Top Gear. But seriously, we grow up, don't we?"

I would have enjoyed this book far more if it had dropped the romance aspects entirely. There was quite enough to focus on with the splitting mystery, Teva's identity crisis, her tricky relationship with Fifteen, and her thoughts for the future. I really didn't care about her struggles between two guys or her fashion show. Teva's textile class is embroidering corsets for their current project and their teacher wants them to wear them in the school charity fashion show fundraiser. It's a weird little sideplot that I found distracting and unimportant. Whilst I liked the dilemma that Teva had, why bother working towards a future that won't be yours, why not just have fun if you're going to be sixteen forever, I don't think it was done particularly well.

The ending was also too rushed for my liking. This was, I think, the product of too many story lines that Evans had to wrap up. There's the romances, the problems with Fifteen, Teva's future, the "other" Teva trying to burst out of her skin, the blog she's running, her entire life mystery, her best friend troubles. It's all too much and results in a conclusion that's just a bit unsatisfying.

So whilst I would recommend More of Me because of the really cool idea behind it, to really get into this one you have to enjoy typical "slice of life" type highschool stories.

My thanks to Netgalley, the publisher, and the author for an ARC of More of Me

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