What would you do if you had a second chance at life?
Hannah, David, Connie, and Linda have been given the second chance of a lifetime—genetically perfect bodies as part of a medically advanced pilot program seeking FDA approval. Their new bodies are exact replicas of their old selves—without the deadly illnesses they suffered from. Even better, their imperfections have been erased. Blemishes, scars, and wrinkles have all disappeared, their bodies are pristine, their vision is impeccable.
Yet the fresh start they’ve been given is anything but perfect. Without their old bodies, their new physical identities have no memories. Hannah, an artistic prodigy, has to relearn how to hold a brush; David, a Congressman, grapples with his old habits; Connie, an actress whose stunning looks are restored after a protracted illness, tries to navigate an industry obsessed with physical beauty; and Linda, who spent eight years paralyzed after a car accident, now struggles to reconnect with a family that seems to have built a new life without her.
As each tries to re-enter their previous lives and relationships, they are faced with the question: how much of who you are rests not just in your mind, but in your heart and your body? In the spirit of Never Let Me Go and The Age of Miracles, And Again is an exciting debut about identity, second chances, and the courage to start life afresh.
A sick, faded actress, a young art student with lung cancer, a mother who's been paralyzed for eight years, and an arrogant congressman with an aggressive brain tumor form an unlikely cohort whose alternating perspectives reveal what they now have in common. All newly emerged into physically healed versions of themselves following a memory "transfer," these four are prototypes of SUBlife, a cloning-based alternative to untimely death that provides new and improved substitute bodies. The problem is that no one is the same afterward, or even what other people expect them to be. Hannah's tattoos are gone, David can't stomach coffee or meat, and sensations in general are overpowering. Linda, who was paralyzed, is struggling with communication again after years of only being able to blink. "Everything feels too massive, and too terrifying," she thinks. "One for no. Two for yes. Things were so much simpler before." Unfortunately, the story never distinguishes itself from its shtick, despite Chiarella's dogged attempts to translate the ideas into a novel. The unrelenting inner monologue of each character becomes banal, and the big challenges of their new lives never feel as interesting or as true as the much smaller details.