Prototype (sequel to Archetype)
Dutton Adult / July 24, 2014 / $26.95 print, $12.99 digital
Emma looks forward to the day when she can let go of her past—both of them. After more than a year on the run, with clues to her parents’ whereabouts within her grasp, she may finally find a place to settle down. Start a new life. Maybe even create new memories with a new family. But the past rises to haunt her and to make sure there’s nowhere on the planet she can hide. Declan Burke wants his wife back, and with a little manipulation and a lot of reward money, he’s got the entire world on his side. Except for the one man she dreads confronting the most: Noah Tucker. Emma returns to face what she’s done but finds that the past isn’t the problem. It’s the present—and the future it represents. Noah has moved on and another woman is raising their daughter. In the shocking conclusion to M.D. Waters’s spectacular debut, Emma battles for her life and her freedom, tearing down walls and ripping off masks to reveal the truth. She’s decided to play their game and prove she isn’t the woman they thought she was. Even if it means she winds up dead. Or worse, reborn.
WARNING: M.D. Waters’ Archetype (the first book in this duology) is well and truly spoiled in the very first sentence of this review! If you haven’t read Archetype yet, we strongly suggest that you turn back now.
Could clones be the next big thing in genre romance? The continuing popularity of The Vampire Diaries aside, vampire-mania seems to be abating somewhat, and zombies are so 2013. (And anyway, who wants to make mad passionate love to a zombie?) But the critical praise and fan fervor directed at cult hit Orphan Black, among other things, hint at a public increasingly intrigued by the idea of having someone out there who both is and is not, well, you. The dramatic possibilities suggested by such a scenario are, after all, both fascinating and limitless.
If my hunch is correct, then M.D. Waters is on the cutting edge of a trend. In Waters’s debut novel, the twisty and compelling Archetype, we learned along with the protagonist, Emma, that she (Emma) is a clone whose host has died—and that she is desired by two powerful men who will stop at nothing to possess her. In Prototype, Waters examines the emotional and practical ramifications of being a clone while serving up dystopian realness and definitively resolving the love triangle at the heart of Archetype. Fans of the first novel will definitely want to see this story through to the end.
Prototype takes us back to the future introduced in Archetype, in which a shortage of females threatens humanity, and girls are kidnapped and taught in repressive Women’s Training Centers (WTCs) to be perfect wives to wealthy men. Meanwhile, a powerful conglomerate led by the unscrupulous Dr. Arthur Travista has perfected (or so they think) the art and science of human cloning.
Back in Archetype, Emma awoke from a vicious assault (or so she was told) with a whopping case of amnesia, and left the hospital to recuperate in the arms of her husband, doting gazillionare Declan Burke. Only gradually did she learn the truth about herself: A “graduate” of one of those WTCs, she had married and then left Declan, joined the Resistance, and married fellow rebel (and doting gazillionaire) Noah Tucker. Following a raid gone very wrong, Emma died—yes, died—in childbirth. The “Emma” of these two books is actually Emma Prime’s clone, and Clone-Emma spent much of Archetype figuring out whether she should trust Declan or Noah, both of whom were vying for her love.
As Prototype begins, Emma has left both men behind to search for her parents, who were rumored to have been active in the Resistance at one time. She seems to finally be getting somewhere with her search when Declan appears on national television offering a staggering sum to anyone who can facilitate a reunion with his “wife.” With the entire world on the lookout for Emma, she has no choice but to return to the one place she’s safe—Noah’s side.
But Noah has a new girlfriend who is not at all eager to help Emma. Others within the Resistance mistrust her, as well. Meanwhile, clones are dying mysteriously, and Emma has reason to suspect that she’ll be next. Further complications arise when she starts to fall in love with Noah all over again, and Noah appears to reciprocate…but is it Clone-Emma he loves, or is he still pining for Emma Prime?
The novel is at its most interesting when it touches on the practical aspects of clone-hood. It’s pointed out several times that as a clone, Emma has absolutely no legal standing; from a medical standpoint, no one from Travista on down really understands what they’re dealing with. And as a clone, Emma can never be certain whether the people she encounters are engaging her as her host or as a person in her own right.
On the other hand, Noah, for one, seems quite ready to convince Clone-Emma of his devotion:
“I knew who you were the moment we talked in the gallery last year. No matter how hard I tried denying it, no matter how hard I forced old images on you, you radiated with a strength that I didn’t recognize, and that scared the hell out of me…” He cups my face and presses his forehead against mine. “God…Emma. Be whoever you want, and believe me, I will love you anyway.”
Although it features fewer gasp-inducing twists and turns than the previous novel, Prototype brings Emma’s story to a thoroughly satisfactory conclusion. However, I get the sense that there are many stories remaining to be told in Waters’s inventively depicted universe, and I hope to see more from this author soon. Send in the clones!
Learn more or pre-order a copy of Prototype by M.D. Waters, out July 24, 2014.