Friday, 10 October 2014

Book Review: Imitation

IMITATION by Heather Hildenbrand
Verdict: There are better novels which use the same premise.
Rating: 2 stars

Don't judge this book by it's stunning cover. And I think the original blurb is powerful, but very misleading. I’ve tried to amend it in my own description.

Ven is a clone of a wealthy daughter, Raven Rogen, and is kept in a facility far away from real life. She’s seen snippets of the girl whose body she was cloned from, enough to mimic the way she walks, but knows very little about her life. When Raven is attacked, Ven is thrust into real life to take Raven’s place and become the new target for the kidnappers. She exists for Raven, but is she prepared to sacrifice herself for someone she’s never met?

The premise has been done before but, with dystopian fiction, exploring other storylines centred on the same idea can be intriguing. Unfortunately, this novel doesn’t add much to the genre.

Its starts off like The Island and other clone-type dystopian stories. There’s a bit of a Twilight instant romance (just add broodiness), a Wither botched escape, The Summoning scientists, and a Hunger Games manipulation between Ven and her ‘father’ – I could go on. Nearly every single moment of reading of this book I was thinking of another. Its kinda fitting that a book called ‘Imitation’ managed to parallel so many things I’ve already read or watched. And just like Ven, it doesn’t do a good job at it.

Okay, that was a low blow. I don’t enjoy writing bad reviews and I try to stay balanced. This did have a few good qualities. The middle is good, with lots happening and tension between Ven and her ‘father’. The cover and the blurb are hooking, but they’re insignificant details and somewhat misleading.

There are several plot holes which you have to give way to while reading. What I could never understand is how little Ven knows about Raven when I originally thought she had spent the last five years mimicking and learning about her. She’s ill-prepared for her mission, and I believe this is because the author wanted to create suspense, rather than for logical reasons; it feels messy when you feel the author’s presence on a novel. And the fact that Raven is nowhere to be found only sparks concern near the beginning of the book, and then it’s completely ignored as if insignificant.

The actual writing didn’t blow me away either. I was constantly thinking of developmental issues and even spotted a few typos. For a book that was self-published and has now been remade, it’s a bit rough round the edges.

I struggled to get into it. In early scenes there is more than a book’s fair share of walking down corridors. When we pull away from the facility and start to venture into real life, there are several motorbike rides with too much detail and various getting up or getting dressed moments that lack creativity. Scene variation isn’t a strong point in this novel. I found myself rereading sections because I wasn’t always sure what was happening. I’m not sure how much of this was due to zoning out as the narrative couldn’t always grip my attention for long.

My biggest quibble is the ending. It was a complete anticlimactic letdown (I’ll keep this bit general to avoid spoilers). The book starts to ebb towards a series of long conversations with people who have insider info, and then it ends with a new character introduction – someone who wasn’t even mentioned anywhere else in the book – and finally offers a bridge into the next book.

In my opinion, this book had no climax or resolve, just a beginning. I felt disappointed when I finished it, which is why I really can’t give it more than 2 stars.