First of all, many thanks to the author and to the Booktasters organization for letting me read and review this book and for having patience with me as it took me a long time to finish!
K.D. Van Brunt is a lawyer in addition to his job as an author. He recieved his BA in religious studies from Northwest Nazarene college before attending Harvard. Now, he lives in Maryland with his two poodles, working remotely and writing books. He also details a lot of his likes and dislikes on his website here.
Van Brunt’s latest tale, My Life as a Clone, follows Willa’s story. Willa believes she is a clone of her family’s previously dead daughter, created so they wouldn’t have to face their life. However, Willa and her dog, Rin, know there is a mission they have to complete, whether it’s to save lives or maybe even save herself.
I do have to admit that it took me a while to get into this book. I thought, at first, that we were only seeing the shallow side of characters and the dialogue was a bit cringey. While the dialogue continued to be mildly unbelivable, I was wrong about the characters. With each chapter, I was able to see another facet of not only Willa, but also of the other characters.
The book explored some science fiction, themes of mental health and bullying, and the spirtual aspects of animals. Though I think some of the explorations did go to an extreme, it was nice to see multifaceted aspects of each character instead of outright villifying anyone–even the bullies. Plus, I loved the themes of animals as an animal lover myself. I trust and love my pet cats with my whole life, and it was relatable to see Willa do the same with her dog.
My overall rating is three stars, because while I loved the themes and the characters, I still did find the dialogue unbelivable for teeenage characters which sometimes was jarring, taking me out of the story. Still, I think YA readers and animal lovers may take a liking to this story.
TWs: death of a sibling, natural disasters, mental health problems, bullying