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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Lackluster Writing Kills Compelling Concept in The Clone Codes

(Image from Indiebound)

In all of her 13 years, Leanna Deberry's only met one clone: her friend's housekeeper, a womanish figure the girls call Deuces. Like all domestic clones, Deuces is a capable cook/cleaner, but that's about all "she" is able to do. Like all clones, she's been programmed not to lie, not to question orders, not to think. Why Leanna's mother thinks clones deserve rights, just like the humans from which they were created, is completely beyond Leanna. Obviously, they are mindless robots with the ability to do one thing and one thing only: serve humans.

Leanna knows her mother's views on cloning are a little radical, but she's shocked when a ruthless bounty hunter arrests Dr. Deberry on orders from the Clone Humane Society. Could she really be a member of the mythical Liberty Bell Movement as the authorities are suggesting? Turns out, Dr. Deberry's been keeping all kinds of secrets, some of which are dangerous enough to put Leanna in danger. On the run from the same bounty hunter who captured her mother, Leanna's got to figure out what's going on. And fast. Unraveling the mysteries will take Leanna on a journey of discovery unlike anything she's encountered in the virtual world to which she's become addicted. This time, she's finding truths about her family, herself and the tenuous future of the world around her.

The Clone Codes, a new sci fi adventure by the parent/son team of Frederick, Patricia and John McKissack, is yet another example of a book with great potential that sinks because of poor execution. With three writers working on this slim novel (it's only 165 pages), you'd think the flat characters, choppy writing, and stilted dialogue would have been edited out. Um, no. It's there. Middle graders may be more interested in the cool, futuristic world the McKissacks have created than in the mediocre way they present it, but I had a hard time getting past the rough writing. It's such an interesting concept, with themes of tolerance and compassion, ideas that are especially affecting when comparing clones to slaves, I just wish the McKissacks had taken a little more care to make the story as compelling as it could have been. Maybe the series will get better as it goes on, or maybe The Cyborg Codes will be a disappointing clone of this one. You'll have to let me know because I won't be wasting my time on it.

(Readalikes: It reminded me a tiny bit of Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card)

Grade: D

If this were a movie, it would be rated: PG for intense action scenes

To the FTC, with love: I received a finish copy of The Clone Codes from the generous folks at Scholastic. Thank you!


  1. That's too bad. It does sound like an interesting concept and for a book so short I would think the complaint would be there wasn't enough information, not that there was stuff that should have been edited out.
    Oh happens.

  2. Hiya Susan! Hopping right back on your blog for FF :-)

    I'm sad to hear that this was another book that has a solid premise but ultimately doesn't deliver on it as well as it could have, which I think is the case with a lot of novels lately that I see in the shops. Anyway, I really liked the review, and I liked your style--very engaging :-)

    And bless you for having "Name/URL" :-)

  3. The premise of this one sounds so fabulous, I might have to give it a read despite your disappointing review.

  4. The only clone book I know and love is House of the Scorpion, which is just fabulous.


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