And Again by Jessica Chiarella [in Library Journal]
Gifted artist Hannah was supposed to die of lung cancer, Congressman-for-sale David of brain cancer, has-been actor Connie of AIDS, and housewife and mother Linda trapped by immobility forever. Yet this quartet comprise the first SUBlife cases, and some of their brains – the parts where memories are housed – are transplanted into genetically perfected new versions of their failing bodies.
Given a second chance, each must relearn his or her identity, repeating, modifying, discarding, and inventing a future none would ever have thought possible. Returning to relationships with partners, family, and friends as healthy individuals proves to be a daunting, even unimaginable, challenge.
As intriguing as the premise is –what determines identity, who gets to live, can science beat death, and so much more – debut novelist Chiarella’s execution devolves too quickly into embarrassingly predictable antics: bed-hopping, family dysfunction, miscommunication, all with a seemingly limitless supply of tedious self-absorption … times four. Even the interpretations by veteran narrators Julia Whelan, Joy Osmanski, Rebekkah Ross, and Corey Brill fail to disguise the overwrought drama.
Verdict: Readers in search of more substantive hybrid fare might consider dusting off Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go or Fay Weldon’s The Cloning of Joanna May.