Title: The Unquiet
Author: Mikaela Everett
Series: No series – Stand alone
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Published: September 22nd, 2015
Rating: ★★☆☆☆ (2 out of 5)
The summary of The Unquiet from Goodreads:
For most of her life, Lirael has been training to kill—and replace—a duplicate version of herself on a parallel Earth. She is the perfect sleeper-soldier. But she’s beginning to suspect she is not a good person.
The two Earths are identical in almost every way. Two copies of every city, every building, even every person. But the people from the second Earth know something their duplicates do not—two versions of the same thing cannot exist. They—and their whole planet—are slowly disappearing. Lira has been trained mercilessly since childhood to learn everything she can about her duplicate, to be a ruthless sleeper-assassin who kills that other Lirael and steps seamlessly into her life.
An intricate, literary stand-alone from an astonishing new voice, The Unquiet takes us deep inside the psyche of a strong teenage heroine struggling with what she has been raised to be and who she really is. Fans of eerily futuristic and beautifully crafted stories such as Never Let Me Go, Orphan Black, and Fringe will find themselves haunted by this unsettling debut.
I think the idea behind The Unquiet is unique and interesting. Two identical worlds where only one can exist and the side that’s disappearing is going to fight for their right to continue. Unfortunately, I just didn’t connect with the characters or the story.
While others might think the slower pace of the novel makes it drag along at times, I think it worked well. It showed that the characters are not changing immediately, but rather over time. Lirael begins the novel discussing her childhood learning how to be the other Lirael so when the times comes to replace her, Lirael can be ready. By making the pace of the novel slower, it shows that the training was not quick and immediate. They’re just regular people in that it takes time to learn and grow.
Once Lirael replaces her duplicate, she must be ready for any call to action she gets. Again, the amount of time passing is important because if things had progressed quickly, it wouldn’t have been such an examination of her psychological growth.
I did think the concept of the book was interesting. The idea that two copies of the exact same thing could not exist is an idea I hadn’t read before. The fact that one Earth is falling apart, with duplicates disappearing while the other seemingly flourishes could logically lead to the idea of replacing one duplicate with another to try to save at least the people of one of the Earths.
I never really felt connected to the characters. The emotional appeal just wasn’t there for me. Lirael felt a little too robotic, which could be understandable, but at the same time her character development seemed to call for some emotion from her. I also felt like there was a lot of telling instead of showing in this book. A lot of it was spent describing feelings or relationships, rather than illustrating them. I could picture everything in the book, but I couldn’t bring it to life.
My other issue, although this wasn’t as big an issue, was that I never really understood why Lirael’s Earth was the one falling apart. Even if there wasn’t a known reason, I would have appreciated a little more examination of the why. It seemed to be a lot of blind acceptance for something so important and impactful.
While I didn’t like the book as much as I wanted to, that doesn’t mean others won’t enjoy it. I need to have an emotional connection, but if that’s not necessary for you, and why like science fiction novels, The Unquiet is definitely worth a shot.
Thank you to Edelweiss and Greenwillow Books for an advanced copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.