Wakers (1) (The Side Step trilogy)

Wakers (1) (The Side Step trilogy)
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Release Date
February 22, 2022
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Laz is a side-stepper: a teen with the incredible power to jump his consciousness to alternate versions of himself in parallel worlds. All his life, there was no mistake that a little side-stepping couldn’t fix. Until Laz wakes up one day in a cloning facility on a seemingly abandoned Earth. Laz finds himself surrounded by hundreds of other clones, all dead, and quickly realizes that he too must be a clone of his original self. Laz has no idea what happened to the world he remembers as vibrant and bustling only yesterday, and he struggles to survive in the barren wasteland he’s now trapped in. But the question that haunts him isn’t why was he created, but instead, who woke him up…and why? There’s only a single bright spot in Laz’s new life: one other clone appears to still be alive, although she remains asleep. Deep down, Laz believes that this girl holds the key to the mysteries plaguing him, but if he wakes her up, she’ll be trapped in this hellscape with him. This is one problem that Laz can’t just side-step his way out of.

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What worked: Intriguing plot of teen side-stepper, Laz, who is able to step into different timestreams or different realities. It's kind of like someone manipulating string theory where there are millions of different possibilities out there. Laz wakes up in a coffin-like pod in a deserted cloning facility and finds he's alone. Most of the pages here are Laz's reflections on what happened to others and why is he in a cloning facility? Then he finds there is another person, a girl, in the facility who is asleep. Once Ivy wakes up, together they try to make sense of what is going on to the Earth they once knew.

I love Card's previous books which include the Sci-Fi series Ender's Game. The dialogue between Laz and Ivy reminded me of Ender and Peter in Ender's Game. It's quick, snarky at times, and punchy. Only in WAKERS the dialogue feels forced more than a few times.

There's lots of self-reflection throughout this novel on metaphysics, the purpose of cloning, and the idea of side-stepping. Laz finds out he might have been behind the idea of side-stepping the whole population of Earth into a Portal to a New Path before Shiva, a deadly asteroid, hits Earth.

The idea of side-steppers is similar to another book JUMPER where the protagonist can jump at will to different places on Earth. Only in WAKERS Laz finds out his ability is used to side-step to different Portals that lead to different realities. I was waiting for a consequence for using this ability and it comes later in the novel. A consequence that can have deadly results.

Slow-pacing at times, the premise of being able to side-step is engaging. In the beginning, Laz reflects on how he was able to sidestep when he realized Stever, a middle-school friend and fellow prankster, wasn't a good influence. He's able to go to another timestream where they aren't friends. They haven't met. Laz did this in order to avoid consequences to his previous not too great behavior. Now though he finds that maybe this might not have been as great as he'd thought.

There's a lot to think over while reading this novel. It's the first book in a series so I'm curious what Laz and Ivy discover in their journey to help humanity.

Promising plot of a teen that can step into different timestreams and how that ability might help or hinder others on their quest to avoid a disaster coming to Earth.
Good Points
1. Promising plot of individuals who can step into different timestreams
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