Kirkus Reviews QR Code
THE CLONES by Gloria Skurzynski


Vol. II, The Virtual War Chronicles

by Gloria Skurzynski

Age Range: 12 & up

Pub Date: July 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-689-84463-5
Publisher: Atheneum

Skurzynski revisits the near-future dystopia of her Virtual War (1997) in a Crichtonesque thriller with creepy Oedipal overtones. A year after winning the Isles of Hiva in simulated combat for the Western Hemisphere Federation, Corgan is a bit bored with tropical paradise; so a visit from his former teammate Sharla finds him eager to deepen their tentative romance. But Sharla has a surprise for Corgan: she cloned their friend Brig before his death, and smuggled one of the babies (nicknamed Seabrig) to Corgan, while she raises the other (Brigand) in the Domed City, whose ruling Council has plans for his tactical brilliance. Corgan develops a big-brotherly affection for the puppyish Seabrig, who is programmed to mature at an astonishing rate, but comes to despise Brigand as spoiled, with an unhealthy fixation on Sharla. When Corgan suspects Brigand of manufacturing an accident that costs Seabrig his hand, their rivalry flares into violence and Corgan returns to the Domed City to discover that the now-teenaged Brigand has more grandiose ambitions than he imagined. Nobody can top Skurzynski at creating an atmosphere of sinister paranoia; while Corgan desperately searches for someone, anyone, he can trust, his naïve self-deception about his society, his friends, and his own motivations lead him to blunder into near disaster. Despite too many awkward recaps of the first in the series, the taut psychosexual tension and breakneck pace of events carry the story hurtling towards a cliffhanger ending that will leave fans on edge for the next installment. (Science fiction. 12+)