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The Original

Narrated by: Julia Whelan
Length: 3 hrs and 24 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (8 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Hugo Award-winning authors Brandon Sanderson and Mary Robinette Kowal team up in this exclusive audio-first production of The Original, a sci-fi thriller set in a world where one woman fights to know her true identity and survive the forces that threaten her very existence. 

In the near future, humans choose life - for a price. Injectable nanite technology is the lifeblood that flows through every individual wishing to experience the world through the lens of their own theme. While death from mortal wounds is still possible, life is made easier in a socially liberated society where automation and income equality allow passion pursuits to flourish over traditional work. Renewal stations are provided to every law-abiding citizen for weekly check-ins, which issue life-sustaining repairs in exchange for personal privacy. But what becomes of those who check out, of those who dare to resist immortality and risk being edited under the gaze of an identity-extracting government surveillance system? 

When Holly Winseed wakes up in a hospital room, her memory compromised and a new identity imposed on her, a team of government agents wastes no time stating their objective. With intent to infiltrate and defeat the terrorist group ICON, the agents tell Holly that she is now a Provisional Replica and has one week to hunt down and kill her Original for the murder of her husband, Jonathan. If she succeeds, she’ll assume her Original’s place in society. If she fails, her life will end. Holly’s progress is monitored by an assigned contact that feeds her information as she confronts the blank, robotic world around her, discovering that others view life through the theme of their own choosing. 

With her newly implanted combat and deduction skills, Holly fends off both attacks by terrorists and doubts about her own trustworthiness as clues lead her to her Original - and to the truth about Jonathan. In the end, one body remains and one walks away. Although questions persist, one thing is certain: Life will never be the same. 

©2020 Dragonsteel Entertainment and Mary Robinette Kowal (P)2020 Mainframe, LLC

What listeners say about The Original

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  • Corax
  • 14-09-2020

Good premise, solid execution, still unsatisfying.

(MAJOR SPOILER IN THIS REVIEW)



















The Original starts out with a great punch, and keeps a nice, tight narrative through the first two acts, and largely into the third. You can catch the feel of both authors here and there, but they gel nicely and it doesn't distract from the story. The narrator is good, easy to listen to, and speaks clearly.

What ruined it for me was this;

(HERE'S THE SPOILER TURN BACK!)






...it has an ambiguous ending, which I found VERY unsatisfying. I get the angle they were going for, I do. A whole 'really makes you think,' vibe. But I felt super cheated as a reader, especially after the third act garnered a surprising amount of emotional investment from me.

Sooooo.... yeah. Very disappointing.

Or maybe I'm missing something obvious, that makes it Actually Good. I sort of hope so. I hope other people like it. I wish I had, too.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Shaw51
  • 15-09-2020

Awesome but PG-13

This audiobook had awesome tones to it, tons of atmosphere with music and other sounds. I was deeply saddened to hear so much strong foul language in this audio, with Sanderson's name slapped on it. I often recommend Sanderson books to younger audiences. Other than that it had tons of Snapshot vibes also done by Brandon Sanderson. Keeps you on your toes.

5 people found this helpful

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  • jturner
  • 16-09-2020

Good story, but something ruined it for me...

The narrator is fantastic. I really enjoyed her subtle variations on voice, and she didn't do any really extreme or distracting changes. Also, there was background music to create feeling in the scenes, and that was really cool.
The story itself was engaging, but the ending felt very sloppy. I actually am not sure whose voice I am hearing at the end of the story, or what the real conclusion was. If I found out that was on purpose, to create some kind of tension and let me introspect on who I want it to be or something dumb like that, I would drop a star ;)
Finally.... I don't know what to call this...the netflix effect? When I am enjoying media, and in a moment the story decides to take a break from plot and believability to bring in something that is totally irrelevant to the story. Like Saturday morning cartoons of old, creators of content use alluring media to draw me into nagging my parents for sugar cereal or toys because the cartoon is just so cool. Well, in this case, I am not a child anymore, and what you are selling has no appeal.
**minor spoiler alert**



Here, the Protagonist takes a break from being hunted and shot at, and has a ...moment of silence, to feel guilty for assuming Her enemy's gender. Whaat? The Protag can do all sorts of violence without feeling bad about it (Crushed trachea...eh, they will get over it...), but assume someone's gender!? Ghastly! What a sin! it grates. Also, using a plural pronoun to refer to one person is confusing and highly distracting from the story. My overall rating displays how irritating this is, and I would not re-hear or recommend this book.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Krista
  • 17-09-2020

Gripping Sci-fi Thriller

This was a gripping read! I could hardly put it down. I enjoyed the unique sci-fi world building, the thought-proving themes, and the fast-paced mystery solving. The audio quality was fantastic with great narration, sound effects and music.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Michael
  • 17-09-2020

A trippy ride

This book is different from other works by Brandon Sanderson. I’ve only read one book by Mary Robinette Kowal, but this was different from that as well. This book was a wonderful synthesis of their writing styles that made me think deeply about the themes presented.

This is a great story, but is definitely not light listening. Be prepared to feel deeply and have much to think about when you’re done.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Henrik Sörensen
  • 17-09-2020

Very good book....

If you like questioning human morality, then this is an absolutely fantastic book. Love it.

1 person found this helpful

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  • MCS
  • 19-09-2020

Promising start, but feel it ended too quickly

Had a great premise, but the end of the book feels cut off. Most of the book had a “Phillip K Dick” feel, that is what is reality and what is not? In that sense, was a great premise. But I felt unsatisfied that Holly’s relationship to her handler was never resolved. And in the end, not the aftermath with the government.

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  • GR
  • 19-09-2020

I loved the book

I lost myself in this book. Narrator was great. The story kept me at the edge. Length of this book was perfect.

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  • Alexia
  • 19-09-2020

Amazing Narration! Cool Story Too

I really enjoyed this book. I knew nothing going in, but I am a huge Brandon Sanderson fan and listen to Writing Excuses so I've been meaning to check out Mary Robinette Kowal's stuff but haven't gotten around to it. This was the perfect opportunity to check it out. I don't read much sci-fi and thought this to be very predictable, so frequent sci fi readers might find it tropey or overrated, though I could be wrong.

The narration of this piece is unparalleled however. I found it to be on par with Graphic Audio productions, though with just one narrator. Julia Whelan's ability to have many distinct voices and relay character traits through voice is amazing. The sound effects and background noise immerses you fully into the story. Even when the physical book comes out (which I believe it will?) I will still recommend reading this book in audio form because of how well done it is.

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  • Shaune Wallace
  • 19-09-2020

Excellent story

it really made me think about privacy and how technology plays with our perception of reality.

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  • Martin Grisman
  • 14-09-2020

Excellent Audiobook production

I'll let you decide whether to pursue the book itself or not - it's solid and a good length to finish in a quiet afternoon, so I do recommend it.
This review is for the Audiobook though - and I have to say, I loved the production.
As well as the narrator, in many places there were quiet, ambient sounds - the beating of a heart during a tense scene, the music in the background of a club. These sounds really pulled me into the scene and helped bring the production to life!

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  • SlosshyDolphin
  • 19-09-2020

why the god awful music?

ok story nothing particularly original but totally ruined by awful music added to help the reader lose focus on the story