Imitation by Heather Hildenbrand
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
“Imitation” was a very fast-reading book for me – I finished it in under 24-hours, so, obviously, the book is.enjoyable and held my attention. That doesn’t mean it’s not without its flaws, however. The basic premise is that wealthy clients can have a clone made of themselves, which is known as an Imitation. The original person is called the Authentic. An Authentic can use their Imitation for virtually any purpose they have in mind – from having them step in and attend an event the Authentic doesn’t want or is unable to attend, to using them as a source for harvesting organs should the Authentic need a transplant, or – as in this case – to step into the Authentic’s life and serve as a decoy when threats are made to the Authentic’s health and safety.
As the story opens, we meet Ven – the Imitation of Raven Rogan, the daughter of one of the world wealthiest man – who also just happens to be the man who created the Imitations. Attempts have been made to attack Raven, so her father sends her into hiding – though it’s never really explained exactly where she is – and Ven has been sent in to take her place. This is one place in which the story sort of falls down.
Ven has been specifically created to be able to stand in for Raven on a moment’s notice. She goes to extensive training, watching videos of Raven interacting with her friends, going shopping, and other such mundane activities. Ven is expected to have watched countless hours of these videos and be able to perfectly imitate Raven. At no point, though, is then given any real training in how Raven thinks, what her general beliefs are, her morals or ethics, or even if she has a boyfriend – much less what level of intimacy they might share. It’s one thing for Ven to know how Raven might say something – her vocal tone, the kind of attitudes she projects, etc., but it’s problematic if she doesn’t know *what* Raven would actually say in that situation. Meanwhile, Ravens father constantly chides Ven for not being enough like Raven, but seems unwilling to offer any insight or practical advice as to how she could do that better.
The romance at the center of the book is sweet, and to a great extent feels believable – except that when they meet, the man has been working as one of Raven’s bodyguards for some time, but he doesn’t seem particularly concerned about the fact that she’s not acting like her normal self – someone he obviously has very little respect for.
What really saves the book, is Ven, herself. She is an interesting, well developed character and feels like someone you might want to have as a friend. The story maintains a nice dramatic pace – there’s enough action to keep things interesting, while still allowing our characters room to breathe. Foreshadowing is nicely done, without beating us over the head with a too-obvious clues, and the dialogue doesn’t come across as stilted or overblown. It also touches on some of the ethical issues related to cloning, what rights – if any – clones have, and if there is any degree to which they are actually human, and not just a man-made creation.
While I can’t say that “Imitation” is one of my favorite books, it’s enjoyable enough that I’m looking forward to being able to check out part two.
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