Published by Greenwillow Books on September 22nd 2015
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
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For most of her life, Lirael has been training to kill—and replace—a duplicate version of herself on a parallel Earth. She is the perfect sleeper-soldier. But she’s beginning to suspect she is not a good person.
The two Earths are identical in almost every way. Two copies of every city, every building, even every person. But the people from the second Earth know something their duplicates do not—two versions of the same thing cannot exist. They—and their whole planet—are slowly disappearing. Lira has been trained mercilessly since childhood to learn everything she can about her duplicate, to be a ruthless sleeper-assassin who kills that other Lirael and steps seamlessly into her life.
An intricate, literary stand-alone from an astonishing new voice, The Unquiet takes us deep inside the psyche of a strong teenage heroine struggling with what she has been raised to be and who she really is. Fans of eerily futuristic and beautifully crafted stories such as Never Let Me Go, Orphan Black, and Fringe will find themselves haunted by this unsettling debut.
Its a real thrill when you start a book without any real expectations and you find yourself completely blown away. That’s what The Unquiet by Mikaela Everett was for me and I have found this review a hard one to write because I just want everyone to go out and read it, though at the same time I hesitate to recommend it as I don’t feel that this book will be to everyone’s taste. In fact I would almost be inclined to think that this book would not appeal to the vast majority of young adult readers, at least the bloggers and fandoms that I follow. So with that possibly over gloomy outlook I will get started!
The story is told by our protagonist Lirael who starts off at the shy age of nine herded along with many other young children through the portal taking them from their Earth to its parallel. You see in this universe there are two Earths though its laws of science and nature have proven that while both exist, this is an impossibility, and so one Earth is dying. Lirael and the other children have been taking from the dying Earth (Earth II) to live in “the cottages” where they teach these young kids how to kill and even more importantly provide them the ability to learn everything they can about their doubles. You see, Lirael is a sleeper agent and her purpose is to kill her alter ego and take her place, ready and in position for when they take over the one Earth that has a chance of surviving.
The name of this book “unquiet” is just such a wonderful poetic description for this novel. It is unquiet, it is unsettling and it can make you uneasy and while that doesn’t make for pleasant reading it certainly makes an impact on the reader. Though this book is fairly psychological in nature with a strong underlying question of what is good vs. what is evil, what I found fascinating was how it made me reflect on issues in the world’s current political climate. We may not in the Western world breed warriors from toddlerhood, but the scary fact is that in other countries this is not rare or extreme – just take a look into ISIS or Malema and the EFF party of South Africa to see some underlying truths in the premise of this book.
I saw one review that gave this novel a poor rate as they felt to rate it well would be condoning genocide. While everyone is entitled to their opinion I think it is naïve and a little sad to think that fictional exploration into one of the darker sides of humanity should mean an automatic fail. Human history is littered with Holocausts and genocides of numerous cultures and races to the point where it is well researched with warning signs and stages. I loved that this novel walked you through each step in this genocide process and humanely questioned the ramifications it places on the individual, the society, the victims, the rebels and the perpetrators. I loved that it asked the hard questions and explored what governments are willing to do in the face of extinction and even better, it handled the outcomes with stark poetic prose that ultimately leaves one wondering exactly what happens behind closed doors to provide us the freedom and safety we take for granted.
This book sent me down the rabbit hole along with our protagonist and I must say it took a while for me to resurface. I read it in one sitting as I quite simply had great difficulty getting this book out of my head. I most certainly tried putting it down at midnight desperate to get a few hours shut eye before work the next day, yet an hour later still wide awake thinking about it and unable to drift off, I admitted defeat and instead finished it in the early hours of morning. It’s been weeks since I read it and I still get goose bumps writing this review because this book is unique and certainly a stand out on the YA books I’ve read in 2015. I loved every unquiet and uneasy minute of this one.