Series: ARCHETYPE SERIES
Plot Type: Dystopian Futuristic Romance
Ratings: Violence—3; Sensuality—3; Humor—2
Publisher and Titles: Dutton
Archetype (hardcover, e-audio, & e-book—2/2014; paperback—6-2014)
NOTE: Titles are listed above in reading order. Reading them out of order will destroy all of the excellent suspense and drama that Waters created in the first novel, Archetype.
This post was revised and updated on 8/9/14 to include a review of Prototype, the second and FINAL novel in the series. That review appears first, followed by reviews of the first novel and novella.
NOVEL 2: Prototype
This book begins a year and a half after the end of Archetype. Here, Emma muses about her current situation: "Knowing I am Emma Wade—ex-resistance major, wife of Noah Tucker, mother to Adrienne—does not change the fact that I am still a clone carrying Her soul. That those I left behind could not bring themselves to accept me for who I am. I am forced to make a new life for myself, and this is all I hope to do once I find my parents." (p. 2)
In the riveting conclusion to this terrific series, Emma is on the run. She hurriedly left Noah and Baby Adrienne behind after both Noah and his girlfriend, Sonya, barely treated her like a human being and told her that she could never replace her human host. As the story opens, Emma is searching for her long-lost parents in a small, isolated Mexican village. Just as she finds a man who might have known her parents, her hated "husband,"—the man who had her cloned—shows up on a holographic broadcast right next to where Emma is standing in the public market. Emma is shocked because she believed that Declan Burke was dead—that he had drowned in a frozen lake while she was trying to escape from his clutches. But Declan is back, and he's looking for his wife. In fact, he offers a huge monetary reward to the person who returns her to him. Naturally, everyone in the marketplace tries to catch Emma, but she escapes and eventually returns to the only safe place she knows: the Resistance headquarters in Richmond from which she ran away just a short time ago.
Although Emma finds that Noah, Adrienne, and Sonya have formed a seemingly happy family, she vows to stay there and not leave her daughter again, even though watching Sonya fawn over Noah and Adrienne is painfully difficult. Most of the Resistance soldiers and officers don't trust Emma; they believe that she has been sent to spy on them. Only a handful will speak to her, and she soon considers them to be her only friends: Leigh, Miles, and Foster. (Note: In an on-line interview, Waters says that she plans to write a spin-off novel from Leigh's perspective.)
There are really three Emmas in this series: There is Emma the now-dead human who was a street-tough Resistance fighter whose life was focused on her love for Noah and her need to rescue captive girls from the WTCs, no matter how many guards she had to kill. Then there is Emma as a new clone in Archetype, where she is a confused, needy, frail, and passive pawn who meekly acquiesces to the commands of Declan and Dr. Travista. Finally, we have the Emma of Prototype, who has toughened up considerably during her 18 months on the run. The Emma in this book is tired of being pushed around. She is much stronger physically and mentally and isn't afraid to stand up for herself against just about anyone. She hates killing and armed conflict and wants only to live out a peaceful life with her family.
At this point, Emma spends a lot of her time just trying to figure out who she really is. Declan views her as his dutiful clone wife. Noah views her as some kind of a convoluted form of his dead human wife. Most of the Resistance folks view her as a traitorous freak. All of the doctors she meets view her as a living experiment. But who is she really? Emma has to find a balance between who she was and who she has become. Emma's future, though, is threatened by increasingly frequent black-outs during which she can feel death reaching out to claim her. She's afraid to ask for medical help because she remembers the horrors of Dr. Travista's laboratory. Even when Dr. Phillip Malcom, a doctor with the Resistance, offers his help, Emma isn't sure whether she can trust him. Dr. Malcom, by the way, is—along with Miles—the comic relief of this novel. Miles is a humorously lecherous Lothario, and Dr. Malcom is the very picture of a disorganized, discombobulated scientist.
The story plays out in a twisty, suspenseful series of events as Declan keeps upping the ante on getting Emma back, Sonya threatens Emma's future happiness, Noah seems to be conflicted about their relationship, and long-hidden secrets begin to surface—secrets that make Emma's true identity even more complex.
Eventually, the resolution comes in several closely connected showdown scenes during which Emma learns the identity of her parents, faces possible death due to a fatal error in Dr. Travista's cloning formula, and makes important decisions about her future. I don't want to reveal too much of the plot because it is so much fun to speed-turn those pages wondering what could possible happen next.
This is a fantastic conclusion to a top-notch series with a fresh and inventive mythology, interesting characters who must overcome all sorts of emotional and physical hardships, and an overall series story arc that defies description. I am always searching for a series that is new, different, and well written, and this one meets all of those criteria. If you're looking for an engrossing read to take you though the dog days of August, pick up Archetype, "Antitype," and Prototype and head for the beach.
NOVEL 1: Archetype
As Emma recovers, she begins to have memory flashbacks of disturbing and violent events that don't jibe with what Declan is telling her. As Emma grasps blindly for the truth, she is still not sure who or what to believe, and by this time, she doesn't even trust her inner voice much of the time. Eventually, Declan is so kind, generous, and loving in all his actions and words that Emma begins to fall in love with him. After all, he is her husband, isn't he?