Machinations by Hayley Stone
The machines have risen, but not out of malice. They were simply following a command: to stop the endless wars that have plagued the world throughout history. Their solution was perfectly logical. To end the fighting, they decided to end the human race.
A potent symbol of the resistance, Rhona Long has served on the front lines of the conflict since the first Machinations began—until she is killed during a rescue mission gone wrong. Now Rhona awakens to find herself transported to a new body, complete with her DNA, her personality, even her memories. She is a clone . . . of herself.
Trapped in the shadow of the life she once knew, the reincarnated Rhona must find her place among old friends and newfound enemies—and quickly. For the machines are inching closer to exterminating humans for good. And only Rhona, whoever she is now, can save them.
[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.]
First, present tense: I find it very difficult to make this type of narrative voice work, and often it just doesn’t at all. I can’t exactly pinpoint how exactly, but I know it made me cringe often enough that I stopped counting. It doesn’t bother me so much in short stories, although I suspect that’s because they’re short and I don’t have to trudge through that tense for a whole novel.
Second, Rhona herself. I couldn’t bring myself to care. Sure, we have that first chapter scene, and it seems intense, and… that’s all? After that, she wakes up as the “new” Rhona, yet it’s difficult to compare her to the one she has supposedly replaced. Perhaps because the novel doesn’t show us enough of the “original Rhona”. Perhaps because the new one is too self-centered and not active enough to stand by herself, watching from the sidelines half the time. Of course there wouldn’t be any point if she immediately found herself again, was the exact same person. I just wish she had been more than a woman who mostly behaved like a somewhat shy teenager—and this brings me to…
…The romance: too much of it, and, as in too many novels, the only real form of validation. The whole quest-for-humanity part, Rhona having to find out whether she IS Rhona or merely a carbon-copy without humanity nor soul, is definitely an interesting theme… but why do such things -always- have to be presented in the light of romance? As if only True Love (whatever that means) could validate one’s existence. Who cares that Sam, her best friend, is with her all story long and doesn’t give a fig about whether she’s Rhona or not (for him, she’s his friend, period)? The really important part is to find out when The One True Love finally acknowledges her. And I feel all these stories completely miss the point: that there is so much more to a person than their so-called significant other, that they’re the sum of so many more factors than just that one restrictive form of love. Meanwhile…
… the machines, the science, the technology: too few and too little of those, considering the blurb that made me request the book at first. This story would’ve benefitted from more explanations when it came to the cloning part, considering how it permeated the whole narrative. Rhona is a physical clone, but her memories (or part of them) were also transplanted. How? A chip to map neural pathways and transfer data is briefly mentioned, yet much more was needed here to satisfy the vague scientist in me (I don’t think I’m asking for too much here). As for the machines, they weren’t present enough in order for the human survivors to be truly pitched against them, as well as for Rhona to be fully confronted to her new “nature” that, in a way, made her a biological Machine. They felt more like the threat in the background, over-simplified, although they could’ve been made more “alive” (no pun intended here: I really think there was potential here for a chiasmus between human-Rhona-turned-thing and things/machines-turned-sentient).
This novel should’ve grabbed my interest, for sure, but it turned out it wasn’t for me. Alas.