I’m thrilled to be on Berkley’s blog blitz for The New One by Evie Green!
- Title: The New One
- Author: Evie Green
- Where to buy: Amazon (affiliate link)
- Genre: Sci-Fi, Horror, Thriller
- Would I recommend: If you like a near-future sci-fi with things that *could* happen, some nail-biting tension, and a satisfying resolution, you need to read this!
A suspenseful, cutting-edge novel about two parents who finally get the daughter they’ve always wanted–it’s too bad she isn’t real. From the author of We Hear Voices.
For Tamsyn and Ed, life is tough. They both work long hours for very little money and come home to their moody, rebellious daughter, Scarlett.
After a tragic accident leaves Scarlett comatose and with little chance of recovery, Tamsyn and Ed are out of options until a lifeline emerges in the form of an unusual medical trial. In exchange for the very best treatment for Scarlett, a fully furnished apartment, and a limitless spending account, the family must agree to move to Switzerland and welcome an artificial copy of their daughter into their home.
Suddenly their life is transformed. Tamsyn and Ed want for nothing, and the AI replacement, Sophie, makes it feel just like having their daughter back–except without all the bad parts. Sophie is engaged, happy, and actually wants to spend time with her parents.
But things take a turn for the worse when Scarlett makes a very real recovery and the family discovers that the forces behind their new life are darker than they ever could have imagined.
Parents, how many of us have found ourselves almost wishing, in our children’s difficult moments, that they could just be as sweet and loving as they were when they were small? How many of us have thought, if they could just lose this or that undesirable quality, they would be wonderful. If we’re honest, all of us, probably, in some moment of deep exasperation.
That’s where Ed and Tamsyn find themselves. They work multiple jobs trying to keep afloat in their ratty trailer. Their marriage is struggling. Their teenage daughter Scarlett is causing them no end of grief. And they don’t have the bandwidth to deal with her bad behavior.
One night they try to stop her from sneaking out in the middle of the night. Things go horribly wrong, and Scarlett is hit by a car, seriously injured, perhaps never to recover. When a lifeline is extended, literally, Ed and Tamsyn feel like they have no choice but to take it.
VitaNova invites Ed and Tamsyn into what seems like the perfect solution: they’ll create a clone of Scarlett and transfer her consciousness into the new body. The new version will be like Scarlett, only better. New home, new daughter, all the luxuries they could want, and they even find renewed interest in each other. Perfection, right?
Sophie (the new version of Scarlett) really does seem like the perfect daughter at first. She’s so good at so many things. And she’s so well behaved! Ed and Tamsyn, while the idea squicked them out a bit at first (especially Tamsyn), soon appreciate how much better they have it now. So there are cameras all over their new plush apartment. So Sophie has cameras in her eyes. So the VitaNova folks keep tabs on them. That’s okay, right?
And then Scarlett wakes up, and things really get twisty.
Evie Green does a good job of making the reader think. How far would we go to keep a loved one (or a simulacrum of them) in our lives? How much would we be willing to sacrifice? And could we ever trust that someone offering all of this to us really had our best interests at heart?
The characters are well drawn. Sophie seems so realistic, so much like a normal, loving daughter, that you don’t realize how much of her personality is programmed. Might that cause problems with Scarlett, her “origin source,” back in the picture? Ed and Tamsyn struggle with whether they should accept this new reality, and even when they do, we still see that internal conflict remains. We see Scarlett wrestling with feeling like her parents have replaced her with a “better” version. I can’t imagine that – waking up from a coma to find out you now have a twin who’s good at everything. How do you not feel like second best in that scenario?! My heart hurt for Scarlett the most.
Green throws a nice twist in about 2/3 of the way through. I wasn’t really expecting it, and it changed my perception. It also confirmed some things about VitaNova. I’m not telling what the twist it. Read the book yourself and find out!
Five stars for making me read past my bedtime more than once! Highly recommended for fans of near-future sci-fi with shades of horror and thriller that explores what hasn’t happened yet, but maybe could.
Read on for an excerpt!
THE NEW ONE by Evie Green
Berkley Trade Paperback Original | On sale March 28, 2023
I listen for a long time before any of the words make sense. When they do, I can grab only a word here or there. Soleil. Le weekend.
I try to hold on to the other words but I can’t reach them. Everything comes and goes. I am floating.
After a while I realize I am not floating. I have a body.
I am in a body.
I am a body.
My eyes are closed, and after a long time I think that since I am back in my body, I might try to open them. After some more time, I try. It doesn’t work.
I know there is noise, but I can’t make sense of it. My sense of smell seems as if someone switched it on, and it is unbearable. The smells crowd into my head and I want them to go away. It smells like medicine, clean things, chemicals. Not home.
Things hurt. People do things to me. They poke me and move me, and sometimes it hurts and sometimes I don’t feel anything. I sense light outside my eyelids. It goes away and comes back. It gets darker and then lighter. I drift back to my dark place, and I come up again.
One day the sounds start to form shapes and I find that I know a word. I know that it is the word for the person I need, the person who will pull me out of here.
I try to make my mouth say it: “Mum.”
Five months before
She had been daydreaming. The water had evaporated and the cauliflower was sticking to the bottom of the pan and the potatoes were burning, because she’d forgotten all of it. It was salvageable, but she didn’t want it.
“Oh, shut up,” she told it nonsensically, and turned off the gas ring. Everything annoyed her.
She tried to focus on the television. It was a reality show, one that usually distracted her just enough. Tonight, though, it wasn’t working.
Scarlett wasn’t missing. She was out. If she hadn’t overdone the cover story by throwing in Leanne, it wouldn’t have been worrying yet. It was still all right.
She messaged her. Please just send a text. Nothing happened. She messaged again and called her phone and she didn’t answer.
She turned the TV off and messaged Ed, hating the fact that she was admitting defeat again. He replied at ten forty-five.
Fuck’s sake honey! Again?!????
Yeah, I’ll find her.
At least he replied to her when it was about Scarlett. Since he worked late nights and she worked early mornings, they hardly saw each other. That was why they were still together.
She looked at the photo on the wall. They had been happy once.
It was a picture of the three of them taken when Scarlett was about four. They had been on the beach at Perranporth, standing in front of the Atlantic Ocean, the beach wide and sandy around them. Their hair was blowing around and they were laughing. Scarlett stood between them, holding their hands.
They had been happy because Scarlett had been a dreamy child. They had been happy because their relationship was newer, and they weren’t ground down by life. Scarlett had been an adorable little girl, always asking questions about everything. They had kept her supplied with books from the library, had tried to find the answers she needed, had done everything they could to help her have a better life than they did.
She had learned to read before she went to school, and together they had all learned a bit of French from an app. Her parents agreed (as all parents probably did) that their daughter was exceptionally bright and brilliant, and as the years went by, they encouraged her to do her homework, to be top of the class, to excel at everything and keep her options wide open.
She was exactly average-sized for her age, which seemed like a good thing: she could never be teased for being too big or too small. She had curly dark hair and intense brown eyes, and she would climb into bed with them at night, cuddling up and whispering, “I love you so much, Mummy.” She used to ask for a baby brother. Her favorite color was blue. She wanted to see snow. She wanted to have snowball fights, to climb mountains, to see the pyramids. She wanted to do everything.
She had been the best child ever. And then, a few weeks before she turned thirteen, Scarlett had changed.
Excerpted from The New One by Evie Green Copyright © 2023 by Evie Green. Excerpted by permission of Berkley. All rights reserved.