Author: Jessica Chiarella
Rating: 4 Stars
Review By: Shana
Impressive debut novel, told from the points of view of four individuals. Each of our four narrators are bound together as terminally ill patients in an experimental program called SUBlife. The cutting-edge medical program clones their bodies, but rids those clones of whatever ails the original (brain tumor, lung cancer, paralysis, AIDS). While the story sounds like a science fiction plot, it is more of a character study. The four newly healthy people, given respite from imminent death, meet weekly for a support group and try to adjust to life in their new bodies. Bodies which are free of all blemishes and worry lines, all scars and tattoos, all indicia of a life lived.
The book explores what it is like to be brought back from almost certain death, how we interact with those around us who had to grapple with the imminent loss of someone dear, what our bodies and all their wear say about our lives and ourselves, and what cannot be merely transferred to a new vessel. Chiarella includes lovely little hints and details about how these people are changed - lack of dreams, fertility issues, loss of artistic skill, virgin taste buds and virgin bodies. She does not belabor the science, nor feel the need to exhaustively track down all the hitches that such a consciousness transfer might run into. Instead, it is through the four lives saved and settled into. that we get a vantage point into mortality and what it means to be human.
My love of reading was sparked in 3rd grade by the promise of personal pan pizzas via the BOOK IT! Program. Hmmmm... any chance that someone might give adults free food for reading? Asking for a friend...