When Your Life Is Not Your Own, Martyr---otherwise known as Jason 3:3---is one of hundreds of clones kept in a remote facility called Jason Farms. Told that he has been created to save humanity, Martyr has just one wish before he is scheduled to 'expire' in less than a month. To see the sky. Abby Goyer may have just moved to Alaska, but she has a feeling something strange is going on at the farm where her father works. But even this smart, confident girl could never have imagined what lies beneath a simple barn. Or what would happen when a mysterious boy shows up at her door, asking about the stars. As the reality of the Jason Experiment comes to light, Martyr is caught between two futures---the one for which he was produced and the one Abby believes God created him to have. Time is running out, and Martyr must decide if a life with Abby is worth leaving everything he's ever known.
Let's talk about the clones. Martyr is the main clone character and he is someone that teenage boys can look up to and admire. He is faithful, giving, kind, and gives of himself (hence the nickname Martyr). I won't list all the other clones, but the reader gets a wonderful picture painted for them, even though they are all clones of the same person,t hey are all uniquely different. They range from kind and giving, to being bullies or even deformed. Abby is a strong teenage girl who finds herself trying to hold everything together after her mother passes away. Her dad, Dr. Goyer, drags her from the East coast to live in Alaska so he can work in a top secret lab, named Jason farms, (which just happens the be the clone facility Martyr is in). Abby is trustworthy, has strong faith, and is very admirable. Dr. Kane is the villain of the book. He has cloned himself to try and save himself from dying of lupus, but things have gotten wildly out of hand. He is selfish, cares nothing for the clones and even exterminates them on their 18th birthdays.
I just found this book so thought provoking and refreshing. I got lost in the world, but I was still able to think about this really happening. Is cloning worth the risks that it brings with it? Is a clone just a clone or really another human being? I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in this topic. And let me just say this as well, it's not a boring science book either, there is some romance, some action and plenty of parts to keep you on the edge of your seat. I look forward to any further books of the series and any other books by this author!
WARNING: This book contains Christian content.
Still want to play? Now that that's out of the way...on to the review!
I had fluctuating reactions to this book. It started out with a great pace, intriguing premise, and engaging characters. (I'd generally describe it as 'Kyle XY' meets 'The Island.') I personally find the ethics behind cloning and it's probable abuses to be fascinating. Ever since my high school debate class, when I realized more than half of my fellow students had no moral qualms over the idea of cloning humans for the purpose of medically cannibalizing them for spare parts. But, I digress...
The character of Martyr (Marty) is almost hopelessly endearing from the start, despite having been reared in the equivalent of an underground pharmaceutical concentration camp. His internal thoughts are compellingly childlike as he relates to everything in terms of his excruciatingly limited exposure. His existential growth as a person is both rapid and reasonable. As a heroine, Abby is bright, independent, and forensic-minded. Her CSI perspective was a vaguely morbid quirk that this reader appreciated. And her texting 'fights' with her largely absentee father added a certain authenticity to their dysfunctional relationship.
A few pop-culture references I'm afraid will make the book feel dated in a hurry. Yes, Sarah Palin is twice mentioned: not in any political capacity, fortunately, but in reference to the location of a kickboxing school. That annoyance was minor. What concerned me more—and ultimately reduced my rating for a 4 to a 3—was the sense of heavy-handedness that seemed to begin somewhere after page 80. It was almost as if the author may have lost faith in the reader's ability to come to their own conclusions. This reader began to note the repeated use of the term 'Liberal' and 'Liberal Extremist', courtesy of the heroine's thought-life. I'm not sure how to explain my discomfort with that, other than to say it seemed forced and needlessly hostile. (I just recently dinged a few preachy-feeling stories on the opposite end of this spectrum, so I think I'm being as objective as I can in this instance.) By halfway through, Abby loses a lot of her initial appeal, and the story itself loses it's potential of being a true crossover to mainstream fiction.
Still, the writing style itself is full of promise. I'd be willing to read something else from this author to see how she grows through this experience.