Hey everyone! Julie Anne here! Today, we are joined by the great Adrianna Finlay. We’ll be chatting about her awesome novel, Your One & Only. It’s a futuristic dystopian novel that will leave you speechless. Don’t miss this one! If you’re interested in learning more, feel free to visit her website or buy a copy of her book for yourself. Let’s get started with this interview! And be sure to stick around until the end for our most fun giveaway of the summer!
Hey Adrianne! I have to say, I haven't read a sci-fi romance in a while, but I absolutely devoured this one! Can you tell our readers a little bit about your book?
Sure! And I’m so glad you enjoyed it! YOUR ONE & ONLY takes place in a future world where humanity as we know it has died off and been replaced by nine different, genetically perfected clone models. Introduced into that world is Jack, the first new human in centuries. He’s different from the others because his genes haven’t been modified at all—he’s an exact copy of a human boy from the 21st century. When Althea-310 meets him, she’s fascinated and intrigued, but questions remain: if the society of the clones is perfect, why did they create Jack? Who in the community is trying to sabotage the clones’ ordered and controlled world? And what will happen if Althea-310 and Jack do the unthinkable and fall in love?
Now I'm guessing you don't have experience with human cloning, so how'd you first come up with the idea behind this book?
I first thought of the idea when I read a scientific essay on the ethical implications of cloning a Neanderthal. The article suggested that it would be morally irresponsible to do such a thing, because a Neanderthal in the 21st century would have no connection to our modern world—no community, no family, no culture, not even the foods he would have been accustomed to. That started me thinking. I loved the idea of a story about a character so radically out of place, so mismatched, the only one of his kind. Instead of writing a Neanderthal main character, I imagined a future where humanity had evolved in some fundamental way—into genetically altered clones. From the perspective of the clones, the main character of Jack is a sort of Neanderthal, primitive and distinct, and even opposed to, the world that created him. So that article inspired me to explore the assumptions we all have about individuality, family, and community.
One of my favorite characters Inga-296. She's so different from the other Ingas, because she sewed herself into a human's life, even letting him call her "mother." Which of the clones is your favorite?
It’s so hard to answer that question, because I have a fondness for the differences in all the clones. Carson-312 is so mean, and a bully, but he was a fun character to write! And I like Samuel-299. He breaks my heart, and struggles so much with his role in Jack’s life.
Jack is a complete outcast in this dystopian world you've created, and trouble always seems to find him. (Ahem, Carson-312, I'm talking to you.) What similarities do you see between yourself and Jack?
I think Jack ends up struggling with some of the same thoughts I’ve had about feeling different or not “normal.” Through genetic manipulation, the clones in YOUR ONE & ONLY have perfected themselves; they’ve wiped out disease, genetic outliers, birth defects, and as a result have certainly made their lives easier. I wanted Jack to have something the clones would consider a genetic flaw, so I gave him asthma. I don’t have asthma, but I had surgery for scoliosis when I was younger, and wore a back brace for a long while. While scoliosis is considered a “flaw,” and presents some difficulties in life, to erase that part of myself would be the equivalent of erasing who I am. I sympathize with the clones’ desire to perfect themselves, but I also recognize that my experience with scoliosis, like Jack’s experience with asthma, helps me understand that if we strive for some contrived sense of perfection, we might lose that part of ourselves that values what makes us different—which in the end are the things that define who we are.
What advice would you give to teens who feel like they're an outcast as well?
I think at certain points in life, everyone feels like they don’t fit in or belong in some way. It’s important to remember that sometimes what make us outcasts are the most important aspects of who we are. What I enjoyed exploring with Jack’s character is how the very things that make him an outcast are what make him more human, more compassionate, and offer the larger community a lesson in person-centered morality—a lesson the clone society desperately needs (sometimes our own society needs it, too). Because the clones are all the same, none of them ever feels like an outcast, but their community is sterile, stagnant, and driven by fear. Jack, by contrast, is better for the ways in which he is different. He has compassion and empathy, something the clones struggle with. Jack shows that we are better for our differences so long as we acknowledge and respect the differences among us.
Jack's necklace is so important to him. Do you also have something you cherish that you can never leave the house with?
I love avoiding attachments to physical objects! I can get overwhelmed when I feel like I have too much stuff, and I like the relief of purging things from my house. With that said, I’d be pretty upset to lose my wedding ring. Not only is it, you know, my wedding ring, but it belonged to my grandmother, who was married in 1937. It’s pretty irreplaceable.
Since this story focuses so much on cloning, I wanted to get your take on it. If you had the ability to safely clone yourself, would you do it?
I think the idea of cloning presumes that there’s some fundamental essence that makes us who we are, or that informs our identity, so maybe the only reason I would clone myself if to find out how much of that idea is true. That’s why clones are fascinating. They highlight so many fundamental questions, like what defines our humanity? What is the connection between nature and nurture? What happens when we manipulate the natural order of the world? And what dangers arise when we presume to play God?
Your One & Only just came out earlier this year. What are some other 2018 releases that you've loved?
Alexa Donne’s Brightly Burning
Jessica Pennington’s Love Songs and Other Lies
The last book of the Illuminae Files series came out this year, Obsidio, and I really enjoyed that one.
The last book in N.K. Jemisin’s science fiction series The Broken Earth came out in late 2017, but I only started the series this year and I love it.
I really enjoyed reading this book, and our readers will too. Do you have any upcoming book projects that you can tell us about?
I have a book coming out with HMH that’s right now slated for early 2020. It’s another YA sci fi, though this one takes place in the contemporary world. It’s sort of a cross between Lost and Station Eleven.
That’s it for today’s interview with Adrianne. Be sure to enter our giveaway by clicking on the picture below. It’s our most fun giveaway of the summer, and it features a signed copy of Your One & Only, plus some branded soap, lip balm, and bookmark. Don’t miss out on this super fun swag pack!