Billy and the Cloneasaurus
By Stephen Kozeniewski
Reviewed by Karl Wolff
With its title based on a throwaway gag from The Simpsons and cover art reminiscent of Chuck Tingle’s more outre selections, I didn’t expect Billy and the Cloneasaurus by Stephen Kozeniewski to be such a thoughtful meditation on the meaning of life.
The novel is set in world populated by billions of identical clones. William 790-6 (57th Iteration) endures an existential crisis when he survives his expiration date and his replacement gets turned into slurry instead. In order to come to terms with his mortality, he ventures into the wasteland where he meets a mad scientist and his dinosaur-like creatures.
I enjoyed this novel for the sheer outrageousness of its premise. What held me back involved its overuse of passive voice. There’s a fine line between informal writing and sloppy writing. I wouldn’t make an issue out of it if it didn’t distract me so much. One more editorial pass to tighten up the writing would have done wonders. It also took quite a while for the novel to pick up steam. Billy doesn’t meet the eponymous cloneasaurus until at least a quarter of the way through. Technical quibbles aside, the existential crisis of William 790-6 feels genuine and real. That’s not an easy thing to pull off, especially when the clone’s individuality would be seen as suspect. He just wants to be a unique human being … like everybody else!
Out of 10/7.0