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Reviewed by:
  • The Clone Codes
  • April Spisak
McKissack, Patricia C. . The Clone Codes; by Patricia C., Fredrick L., and John McKissack. Scholastic, 2010 173p. ISBN 978-0-439-92983-7$16.99 Ad Gr. 5-7

In 2170, clones and cyborgs face discrimination and dramatically reduced rights. In fact, cyborgs are considered to be only sixty percent human, and clones are severely restricted (educated for simple tasks only, trained to be completely subservient, and genetically altered so they look inhuman). Enter Leanna, the thirteen-year-old daughter of political activists who strives to improve the life of all humans, even if they have been fused with machines or come from second-generation cells. Not only did Leanna not know of her parents' involvement with secret organizations, she also had no idea she was a clone, the first to be raised exactly as a "normal" child would be. Suddenly, political figures from the past (Eleanor Roosevelt plays a significant role) are advising Leanna about alien visitors who have guided humans for centuries, Leanna is on the run with a million-dollar bounty for her capture, and the comfortable world run by clone slaves and enjoyed by "firsts" may finally be upended. The quick pace and short chapters, combined with a clear anti-discrimination message, make this an appealing choice for reluctant readers or sci-fi buffs seeking an unchallenging jaunt. Unfortunately, the heavy-handed exposition surrounding the conflation of clones and cyborgs with slavery occasionally slows the narrative and weakens plausibility (the convenience of Leanna having a virtual-reality Underground Railroad experience the day she learns she is a clone is a bit much), and the discrimination is underexplained. Even so, this novel might work well as a flashy bridge into a unit on slavery, or as a quick beach read for the science-fiction set. An afterword explains historical events that shaped the writing of this novel.



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