Althea-310 is as shocked as the rest of the Altheas when she sees Jack for the first time. Jack is human, a species that died off 300 years ago in the slow plague while Althea-310 is one of ten Althea clones in the city of Vispera. In an effort to keep humanity alive, nine scientists cloned themselves, refining their genetic make up in each succeeding generation. Now, every ten years a new batch of clones are "born" with ten of each of the original scientists. Jack is the first human any of Althea's generation has seen. Jack's introduction into Vispera doesn't go smoothly, but Althea still finds herself fascinated with him and becomes more distressed by the way he is treated by some other members of her society. One of the bigger questions, however, is why the older generations made a human in the first place? And what is happening to their society?
I really liked the concept of this book. So much so that I was drawn in despite my initial eye roll when reading the synopsis that made it clear this was obviously going to be a romance. Of course there is the forbidden romance between Althea and Jack, but there is a good sci fi world and story as well.
Vispera sounds like a great place to live where things are peaceful and orderly. I've read enough to know that it can't possibly be as perfect as it seems, but despite the initial problems with Jack's introduction to society, it still seemed pretty nice there. The problems with this perfect world were revealed quite slowly throughout the book which is not a criticism at all. In fact, I enjoyed the pace all the way until the end. (More on that later.) There is a nice balance between showing us the day to day life of Vispera and the action sequences that keep the story moving. I also liked the pace of Jack and Althea's growing romance which was not insta-love but rather a realistic getting-to-know-you relationship.
As I mentioned, the book lost my admiration quite a bit at the end where the pace suddenly sped up considerably. It was much more of a narration of "Then they went here. Then this happened. Then some of them left. Then she saw this thing." So much happened in those last couple of chapters but it was all just explained rather than being part of the storytelling. I also had issues with Sam's final days and his sudden love of Jack which I hadn't felt at all before. Sam needed to step it up a lot sooner in Jack's life!! But despite those two criticisms, this was enjoyable and unique.