Reviewed by Toni Adams
Smart Girls Love Scifi Reviewer
Clones have been on my mind since I started watching the first season of Orphan Black. Cloning can be a really interesting trope to explore in science fiction. The implications of such a process is open to so many possibilities and great what-if questions. It opens up the sensitive topic of creation and life. Even more appealing is the perspective of one who looks the same but is not.
So here comes Mirror Image to tease with a provocative plot. Mack works for ISC (Intergalactic Security Commission), a secret government function in space as part of a coalition with other planets for protection and such. Since ISC agents aren’t allowed home due to the secret nature of ISC, clones are created as a step in, so families don’t worry. Usually agents and their clones would never interact (due to bogus science idea #1) until someone is targeting her clone on earth. Which leads to bogus science idea #2: if you kill the clone, you kill the agent. The higher-ups have decided to bring the clone, Maddie, to the ISC base for safety reasons. Maddie shows herself to be a unique clone in that she doesn’t act like a typical clone. She acts like an actual person. Maddie brings a whole bunch of trouble behind her as the agents are targeted and their lives are in danger.
A really great plot, so many possibilities of exploring cloning. None of that was delivered. Not much was delivered. Yet I powered through this novel for curiosity sake. Mirror Image is like chewing on iceberg lettuce. Both look like they should have pretty decent content, but it’s either full of water or just empty words.
These are the types of novels that make me so incredibly sad. So much potential for a great read, fun discussion points with book club members, or changing perspective. It has enough of a drive to keep the reader reading. It’s just that it was more of an outline than an actual novel.
The most important and biggest element that kept me from taking this story seriously was that nothing was really explained or it was extremely bogus. Huge events or important details are minimally explained or happened off-page. For instance, the reader is alerted to a certain character’s death by screams and that was gone by the next sentence. A major maneuver through space happened in one sentence. The introduction of two new alien species are sudden with no backstory. Just dialogue. Bits and pieces of information that would have fleshed out the story even more are barely there.
I can only shake my head at the bogus science in this novel. It is a science fiction novel so anything can go. It just has to make sense. Cloning and gene splicing procedures are explored enough that most people understand the basics of it. Clones have the identical DNA of their host but their memories and experiences can be learned. In Mirror Image, the memories are imported. The bogus science that follows is that the original and the clone cannot touch or occupy the same place or else they would explode.
No. Just, sigh.
Clones are not entities that can alter the fabric of space just by being in the same space as the original. It’s like saying I made a paper copy of the master sheet but it can never touch or else it will burst into flames. Let’s review some basic biology. Does anyone remember this shorthand;
DNA –> RNA —> proteins
DNA contains all the genetic information in a condensed form. DNA contains the gene coding parts and a whoooooooole lot of nothing. RNA then comes along and transcribes all the necessary information from DNA to make proteins. Proteins then do all the major work.
So to have a clone with the same DNA would do nothing. To humor the novel, this whole having a clone on earth is then really,really bogus. The clones can die from accidents or sudden illness. The clones place the agents in even more danger. It would have been safer to just tell your family what’s going on.
This all ties in with the second bogus science: killing the clone, kills the agent. No. No way. Clones and the originals are two separate living entities. Also this adds to the holes in the security plan. A dragon and a human sharing half of a heart makes more sense than this. Yes this is fiction but it should be more credible and believable than this. If these bogus science worked in this universe, explain even more. Just a sentence just adds more question.
The romance suffers from the lack of any fleshing out of the story. Which is a pity because the romance could have brought up some interesting bits. Maddie the clone was crushing on her co-worker John. John is the clone of John the ISC agent. Maddie falls immediately in love with John-the agent upon seeing him. John reciprocates that love. Very interesting. Why would John love the clone and not Mack (the original)? Has he been spying on Maddie (nope because only the original and the Commander has access). What separates the clone from the original that he can fall in love with her? What does he see in her and not Mack the original (Mack is also married but that is not enough of a deterrent). Why doesn’t Maddie the clone question her emotions even more now that she knows she’s a clone? That would have wrought some pretty deep inner turmoil. Which would have brought some great tension to the couple.
Seriously wasted potential. The story is too quick of a read that leaves an empty, unsatisfactory feeling tinged with sadness. So much hope and expectation dashed. I was even willing to ignore the repetitive dialogue and really predictable story turns in the hopes that this story would surprise. The only things that amused me were the Doctor Who, Indiana Jones, and Star Wars reference. Kinda hard to hate on a fellow Doctor Who fandom member.
The rating is due because it really does fall right in the middle for me. It was interesting enough for me to read but it was not great enough for me to connect it with it fully. The characters are great and also very interesting but not enough time is spent on them. All in all, I just wanted more details.
If you’re looking for a very, very light science fiction quick read, then this would be a good one. The books have received a lot of positive praise so it hits a chord with quite a few readers. For this greedy reader, I just wanted much, much, more.
Genre: science fiction romance with clones
Primary Book Format: e-format
Publisher/Imprint: Distinguished Press
Blush Quotient: a dissipating haze of pink
Smart Girls Rating: 3
Order it here: Amazon
Find out more info about the author and series here.
(Disclaimer: This book was given for review.)