By Stephen Kozeniewski
Is this the Great American novel? Possibly. In the future all wild animals have become extinct and all humans have been replaced by clones. Just one clone, in fact. Billions of him. The world is populated by Williams – the perfect corporate citizen – he works hard, is compliant and even complacent, is an excellent consumer of goods and services as dictated by the corporations, and is entirely predictable. The world is managed by a giant corporation that produces everything Williams need, thus absorbing their hard-earned money back into the never-ending system. The media, news, consumer goods and food are all produced and managed by Williams for The Company.
Our hero is William 790-6 (57th iteration). On every clones birthday he must report to the factory where he is terminated and recycled back into the food supply for the next generation of clones. Due to equipment malfunction, William 790 finds not only his termination to be delayed until after the weekend, but his replacement clone has already arrived. Never before have their been two clones at the same time. Through circumstances his replacement gets mistaken for him and becomes slushed, and 790 becomes the first clone to live beyond his first birthday. The experience leaves William 790 disillusioned and then enlightened as he realizes that he is something special. He is unique. But rather than being an uplifting experience he discovers things about society that don’t add up. Not only are resources and clones recycled, but so are the media and the news. The Company is manufacturing more than consumer goods – it is manufacturing lies and oppression.
This is a brilliantly original book that, despite being funny also deals with complex themes such as existentialism and questions just what it means to be an individual in an increasingly manufactured and controlled society. Like The Company, Kozeniewski has manufactured characters that are clever, sympathetic and tragic and has populated them into a dark dystopian world. William (who chooses the name Billy to mark his individuality) escapes The Company and, literally, becomes Free Will. His journey is an exploration of just what free will and free thought mean in a world where everything is mass produced including marketing and consumerism. It is a satirical look at modern consumerism and media-driven society, and also a cynical look at the future of mankind and our dependence upon said consumer goods and services and our reliance upon formulaic news and media.
Kozniewski writes a book that is gripping from the first page, filled with mystery and thriller elements. It is a well-paced adventure that sweeps you away in it’s current, depositing you on the banks of it’s conclusion where the only criticism of the book can be found. The conclusion to Billy and The Cloneasaurus feels a bit rushed, with new ideas being introduced but not expanded upon enough. Despite this, the cyclical nature of the book is repeated in the ending, closing the narrative loop he created in a dramatic and satisfying nature. This book is an exceptional 9/10.