Wednesday, February 17, 2021

The Echo Wife, by Sarah Gailey

Tor Books, ISBN 9781250174666, February 2021 

Evelyn Caldwell is a geneticist, a leader in the field of producing clones for specific, and generally short-term, uses, is at the height of her career, and has just won a major award. She's recently divorced, but the most important thing is to keep everyone believing it's a completely amicable divorce. Nothing to see here, move along!

The secret she needs to keep is that her ex-husband, Nathan, in the same field but on the faculty of a nearby university, not in private industry like Evelyn, has cloned her.

Cloned her, but slightly modified. Martine is calmer, gentler--more obedient. More deferential. Nathan has, he thinks, made the perfect wife.

When Evelyn finds out Martine is pregnant, she's shocked, outraged--but mostly shocked. Clones are incapable of getting pregnant, by design, and by law. Cloning is not about creating people. Clones are tools, short-term tools, who will put down like terminally ill pets when their usefulness is over. And there is no reason for them to ever be pregnant. If this is discovered, it won't just ruin Nathan. It will ruin her, too, because it's her work he's using.

Then Martine calls Evelyn, tell her she needs to come over immediately. It's very, very important Urgent.

Evelyn has been meeting secretly with Martine, getting her to a clinic for a prenatal exam, and books about pregnancy and what to expect. They're not friends. Evelyn still greatly resents Nathan's actions, and the fact that Martine is her without the traits Nathan never liked--but she also has no patience for Nathans unawareness or unconcern about what being pregnant means for Martine.

Martine, with more information and exposure to someone other than Nathan, finally asked him a critical question. She does want this baby, but she finally asks Nathan if it would matter if it didn't want the baby.

And Nathan is enraged, and attacks her--and Martine manages to kill him, rather than be killed by him.

And if Evelyn doesn't help clean up the mess and solve the problem it creates, it's going to completely destroy her career.

This book was harder for me to get into than Gailey's previous works, because Evelyn is very hard to like. She's not hard to understand, though, once we start to learn about her background. There are compelling reasons she's cold, distant with nearly everyone, and not willing to trust anyone.

What happens makes for serious character development for both Evelyn and Martine.


I received a free electronic galley from the publisher via NetGalley, and am reviewing it voluntarily.

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