The New One
Author: Evie Green
What I’m Talking About:
Author Evie Green is really Emily Barr. On her website she says, “Evie Green is the horror author who lives in my head.” She uses this pseudonym for her thriller themed books of which standalone The New One certainly qualifies. She goes on, “I had the most fun writing this book. There’s cloning, AI, a family propelled into luxury, a big twist, lots of small twists, and some extreme and murderous sibling rivalry.” By its description, it would be very easy to write this off as another “artificial intelligence (AI) is going to replace people” novel. I was weary when approaching this book because of Spielberg’s “AI” movie which took us on a truly bizarre Pinocchio fantasy with a pretty sucky ending. Pinocchio got a better ending. Frankenstein got a better ending. Add too the fact that British authors are notorious for tragic poetic endings. I will admit to procrastinating my read until I was on vacation on a beach. Even a bad book will be better at the beach. Green was so enthusiastic, however, I had to give it a go.
Green lulled me into her story with an expected set-up. Something will happen which makes it necessary to introduce an AI child. In The New One, Ed and Tamsyn Trelawney are on the verge of divorce. Ed even has a bag packed under the bed that he doesn’t think Tamsyn knows about, ready to leave when he can’t take their disfunctional relationship any longer. He’s thinking one day he’s just not going to come home. They are living in poverty no matter how many jobs they work, and their wonderful, only daughter Scarlett has gotten in with a bad crowd. There is alcohol, swearing, bad grades, and she’s gone off the deep end. They fight all the time. The other people in the trailer park who understand tough times don’t even like them, as they have to witness Scarlett’s outrageous behavior. So when Scarlett gets hit by car and goes into what seems to be a terminal coma, in swoops VitaNova.
VitaNova is a company specializing in cutting edge “reanimation” technology. In plain terms, cloning and AI integration. Eventually, Ed and Tamsyn’s medical insurance is going to reach a cap. The hospital will turn off the machines when the money runs out. Pushed up against the wall with hope that their daughter even might have a chance of waking-up, they take the deal: VitaNova will continue to pay for and provide state-of-the-art coma treatment for Scarlett in exchange for genetic material and participation in their “reanimation” studies. They must welcome an enhanced clone of their daughter into their new luxurious home, provided by VitaNova, and treat her as their own.
I’m happy to say that while I was waiting for the shoe to drop, there’s a plot twist—Scarlett, the source material, wakes up from her coma. What now? Except for maybe Roger Spottiswoode’s “The Sixth Day” staring Arnold Schwarzenegger, that’s not something that has been really explored by sci-fi writers because now it’s about relationships and not the technology. How do the family dynamics change when there’s suddenly a 15-year-old identical twin? One who’s stronger and better at everything? My single criticism is that I would have liked a longer back half the book than front. Green took a lot of time building emotion and getting us invested. When it starts to get to the thrilling part of a thriller book, it was not as in-depth, leaving me with a few questions. It does, however, wrap with a satisfying ending. Thank you!
I would categorize The New One as a young adult or new adult book although it’s told from multiple perspectives, including adult POV’s. I don’t think it’s as predictable of a format as some publishers would like, but I wouldn’t change anything about it. Kudos to Berkley. It’s a good read and the way it unfolds is perfect.
My Rating: A- Enjoyed A Lot
About the Book:
For Tamsyn and Ed, life is tough. They both work long hours for very little money and come home to their moody, rebellious daughter, Scarlett.
After a tragic accident leaves Scarlett comatose and with little chance of recovery, Tamsyn and Ed are out of options until a lifeline emerges in the form of an unusual medical trial. In exchange for the very best treatment for Scarlett, a fully furnished apartment, and a limitless spending account, the family must agree to move to Switzerland and welcome an artificial copy of their daughter into their home.
Suddenly their life is transformed. Tamsyn and Ed want for nothing, and the AI replacement, Sophie, makes it feel just like having their daughter back—except without all the bad parts. Sophie is engaged, happy, and actually wants to spend time with her parents.
But things take a turn for the worse when Scarlett makes a very real recovery and the family discovers that the forces behind their new life are darker than they ever could have imagined.
Release Date: March 28, 2023
Genre: Thriller Sci/Fi YA
Format(s): paperback (400 pages), e-book, audiobook
Book Source: Publisher/NetGalley
Amazon (affiliate link)