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 was provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thanks Edelweiss and Greenwillow books!
What would you do if your closest friend or family member was replaced with someone else – someone who looks and acts exactly like them – and you didn’t know?
That’s basically the premise of this story, and I thought it was awesome! The main character Lirael is one of those people who take the place of someone else – a sleeper. She’s been trained since she was little to kill her alternate and take her place. The first part of the book shows us the environment that the children like her grew up in: the cottage.
“The cottages are well outside the limits of any major cities, hidden deep inside the woods, and when we are old enough, we begin to train with knives, with bows and arrows, with rifles.”
The rundown is that there is an Earth I and Earth II. Each one has an alternate person of the other Earth, but Earth II is dying. Thus, they’re sending spies to infiltrate Earth I and do their dirty work. I love this aspect of the book! Parallel worlds are the bomb diggity, and science fiction is A+. However, other than the things I shared above, there was not a lot of explanations in it. How the did Earths form? What are the world leaders’ reactions to it? I’m not sure of the technology of the world, or the current political system and how things are run. This guy uses a typewriter as opposed to a computer and I’m not sure if he’s just really hipster, just likes it, or people use typewriters a lot.
Another thing is that Lirael is always mentioning a war. This was really vague and I gathered nothing from it. What war? It’s the third time you’ve mentioned this and I’m not sure what’s going on. Eventually I gathered that it’s between the two Earths and Earth II wants to take over Earth I, but it just really didn’t feel like a “war” throughout the book. As much potential as this concept has, the world was just riddled with too many holes to really care about what happened.
Honestly, the characters weren’t much better. See, the word I think of after reading the book is a sense of disconnection with it. Usually I emerse myself in the world of the book, but in this one I can’t. I read on because I cared about what would be the outcome of Lirael, but at the same time I didn’t really care for her as a person.
Throughout the book, Lirael is very cold. That’s not surprising, given the way the sleeper children grew up: loveless and dominated.
“We fitted in just right. We already bore the knowledge that all cottage children must have; that nobody loves us but ourselves.”
However, I didn’t really feel the growth from apathy to… whatever she became later on in the book. She becomes someone who realized that what the Earth II people were doing wrong. But also didn’t care enough to do more than save her own hide (and her loved ones). Even her alternate’s sister Cecily is supposed to be some cuddly child everyone loves, but I didn’t give a crap.
“I knew there was something about Cecily. Everyone falls under her spell somehow within just moments of meeting her.”
The whole book had a feeling of melancholy. Lirael’s life in the cottage was sad af. Her life as her alternate was a little better, but still filled with grief. It just made me sad reading it. The only good thing was the shining beacon of hope at the end. I really enjoyed the ending. But I would’ve enjoyed it more if I could have connected to the characters more.
The writing itself was quite enjoyable to read. The words flowed nicely and it never hindered me from reading. We hear a lot of Lirael’s internal thoughts, but it unfortunately never brought me closer to her. Because of my disconnect with the story in general, the cool action scenes and little twists never popped out for me. Also for someone who’s trained for ~6 years, I kind of expected more action.
Overall, this book had lots of potential for me but in the end I just felt disconnected. Maybe it’s one of those “not my cup of tea” situations, but something was really missing for me.
I will end with some questions that the book never addresses:
– Who is leading the different Earths??
– What differences do the Earths have in everything but people?
– What are the scientists doing during The Silence?
– Who is leading all these sleepers and organizing the missions?
– Are you ever going to give me up?
– Are you ever going to let me down?
– When did Lirael start feeling this way for _____?? (love interest)
– What does Cecily think of __________? (spoiler)
– Are you going to run around and desert me?
– What kind of government is happening?
– What is the situation of the Earth in general???
– Who are the people who killed _______? (other characters)
– How didn’t ____ and _____ _____ when they __________ from the other _______?
– and it continues…
*Quotes are from an ARC copy and are subject to change upon publication.