The Echo Wife

Evelyn, the narrator of this novel by Sarah Gailey, is a research scientist who has developed a human cloning technology that allows clients to have clones created to serve as body doubles and such. The clones’ programming doesn’t give them any will or agency, and they are destroyed when their purpose is accomplished. But, of course, you can easily imagine how human cloning of this type might go wrong.

Evelyn herself is not so great at thinking through the human consequences of her scientific activities. Her detachment is, perhaps, part of the reason for her divorce from Nathan. Although Nathan’s selfishness and chauvinism and all-around horribleness is the bigger part. And one sign of Nathan’s horribleness is Martine, Nathan’s new wife. Martine is cheerful, compliant, and pregnant, everything Evelyn is not and has no desire to be. She’s exactly the wife Nathan wanted all along.

I’m going to be a bit cagey about what happens in the book because I went in knowing next to nothing about the plot, and some of the fun is in the reveals. There are lots of reveals! Most of them are not major surprises, but it’s fun to see them unwind. The gist is that Evelyn and Martine are brought together and get deeper and deeper in trouble as they try to find a way out of their problem. There’s death and gruesomeness and cloning (of course). Evelyn’s lack of human insight and Martine’s naivete keep them from noticing some serious flaws in their plans, so they end up digging themselves deeper into trouble. (And, to be fair, they’re in crisis mode, so their judgment is understandably off.) It gets very dark, the stuff of horror fiction.

One of the interesting things about the book is Evelyn herself. She’s the narrator and the person I think most readers will be inclined to root for, but there’s a darkness in her, the nature of which only gradually becomes evident. At the same time, she’s up against something even worse. Except she sort of set the ball rolling without considering the consequences. Lots of complications. And the ending, I think, shows her hubris and lack of human insight because she’s in a completely unworkable situation and has no idea. It’s dark. I enjoyed it.

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1 Response to The Echo Wife

  1. It’s darrrrrrk, isn’t it? A lot of Sarah Gailey’s past work has kind of leaned away from acknowledging its own darkness, but this one leaned all the way into it, and I thought the book really benefited. That ending! Eurgh!

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