The Original by Brandon Sanderson & Mary Robinette Kowal

Sci-fi, 183 pages, published in 2020

Holly wakes up in hospital room and is told that she is a replica of herself with the sole task of hunting down the real Holly for murdering her husband.

Spoiler Free Review:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Content Warnings: guns, murder

This is a futuristic sci-fi, audio-first novella narrated by Julia Whelan that is a collaboration between Brandon Sanderson and Mary Robinette Kowal, who work on the podcast Writing Excuses.

Two things about the audiobook specifically: Julia Whelan does an amazing job and there is background music/noises. The background noise was a little…annoying at times, because I couldn’t tell if the sound was coming from the audiobook or in real life, but overall, I think it worked to increase the atmosphere.

The premise of this story is so interesting. Everyone has ‘themes’ that they use to see the world around them differently than what is reality, and if they die, they can have their backed up memories transplanted into a new body. This information is all delivered by Holly discovering what reality is actually like, which I thought was a cool way of showing it all.

I actually wish this was a full length novel, not a novella. I think it had the potential to explore a lot of ideas, but only focused on a few. I would definitely like to read more in this setting, or even something similar.

The ending was…not my favorite, but it didn’t change how much I enjoyed the rest of the story.

One thing that made me laugh a little is that I saw some reviews being upset by excessive profanity being included…I didn’t notice any at all. At one point, I’m pretty sure she says “hella” which I don’t think is profanity, and also feels like a very dated term in a futuristic world.

Overall, if you have a couple hours and you want to get lost in a cool, futuristic murder mystery, I would definitely recommend this!

2 thoughts on “The Original by Brandon Sanderson & Mary Robinette Kowal

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