A New Year, A New You? Cloning in YA Fiction
Whenever I read about cloning I think about my favorite Calvin and Hobbes comic strip, the one about the Duplicator.
For those of you not familiar, Calvin–a bit of a stinker even on his best behavior–decides to create a cloning machine so that his clone can do all the work Calvin doesn’t want to do. Things backfire a bit and Calvin ends up with multiple clones just as naughty as him.
The story of Calvin’s duplicator machine simplifies ethical and logistical questions of human cloning such as: What purpose does cloning serve and who or what entity gets to control it? Where does the clone end and the human begin? Is a clone the “same” as the original?
Here are some YA books about cloning and genetic engineering to help you ponder:
This one is for you sci-fi/dystopian/murder mystery fans. Nadia and Nathaniel have it all figured out: he’s the heir to the only human cloning corporation in the Corporate States, very rich, and a bit of a spoiled brat; Nadia is Nate’s best friend and also his betrothed, and happy to sacrifice any romantic notions of love to satisfy her family’s financial and social needs. But their perfect world is shattered when Nate is murdered and replaced by his cloned replica, and Nadia and the new Nate are determined to discover the mystery behind Nate’s murder. Lots of plot twists, folks.
False Memory by Dan Krokos
The premise behind this series is aaaawesoooome!!!! Miranda wakes up with absolutely no memories and no idea who she is. When she goes roaming around in an attempt to get help she inadvertently releases an energy that causes crazy horrible chaos. That is Miranda’s genetically engineered “ability”—to cause others to feel panic and fear—and the bad guys want to use her as a weapon. Add to that some high-speed chases and explosions, and you’ve got serious action adventure on your hands. The series continues with False Sight.
Eva was created for one purpose: to take the place of Amarra should Amarra ever die. When tragedy strikes and Eva is sent to replace Amarra, the transition is more difficult than imagined: “echoes” like Eva are illegal in Amarra’s country and Eva must convince everyone outside of the immediate family that Amarra is truly alive. However, as Eva struggles to play her role she comes to realize that becoming Amarra means that she will lose her identity as Eva completely. Does she stick around to fulfill her purpose, or choose her own destiny?
This is an amazing could-happen book about three cloned “sisters” living their life as one individual. Problem is, each of them is beginning to realize that having to duplicate and share everything—one hairstyle, one set of classes, one boyfriend—is growing more complicated and, frankly, depressing. Add to that the mystery surrounding their birth, and their fear of being caught, and you’ve got a fast-paced novel that raises ethical questions about the line between humanity and science.
–Dena Little, currently reading Ask the Passengers by A.S. King