Darci Murlowe is a thirteen-year-old girl living in 3038. She is a Genhant, a genetically enhanced human who has been implanted with a 48th chromosome. Most people are now Genhants, and their DNA composition is carefully chosen before they are born. There are also few people whose ancestors could not afford additional chromosomes; they are named Originals and live as outcasts.
During the summer, Darci goes to rock climbing camp, and meets a girl identical to herself, Vivian. As Darci was born first, Vivian must be her "copy". The two girls are terrified: in their society, unauthorized cloning is the worst crime, punished with death for the perpetrators and all the cloned people. Vivian and Darci know that they must keep their meeting a secret, or they could be sentenced to death together with their parents.
Star Split by Kathryn Lasky is a science fiction/slightly dystopian book for the 10-14 age group. There's a lot more introspection than action. Many scientific terms are introduced in the book without an explanation. They were easy to understand for me, as an adult interested in the subject, but they might be obscure for younger readers, who usually have very little or no prior knowledge of biology. The title, Star Split, comes from a Shakespeare quotation, which Darci finds as a fragment at the dead languages laboratory.
Cloning, as a subject, has always fascinated me. I remember when I was assigned an essay on the topic. It was 1998, shortly after the experiment of the Dolly sheep. I immediately recognized this book as written in that period, too, even before reading the afterword by the author. Actually, as the author states, setting this novel more than a thousand year in the future seems kind of excessive, because science could get there a lot sooner.
All in all, an enjoyable book, if you like science fiction. Its main problems consist in having very little action (as compared to time devoted to reflection) and presuming that readers already have knowledge in biology, which is not very common in the 10-14 age group.
**Read and reviewed as part of Presenting Lenore's Dystopian August**