Division by Karen A. Wyle releases in paperback today!

I thought I’d send out a quick blog post announcing that Division by Karen A. Wyle (click for my 4.5-star review) is out in paperback today.

Title: Division
Author: Karen A. Wyle
Genre(s): Near-Future Science Fiction
How To Purchase: Kindle | Kobo | Paperback (NEW!) – US or UK

My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Check out my review here or purchase it at the links above.

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Review: Division by Karen A. Wyle

Title: Division
Author: Karen A. Wyle
Genre(s): Near-Future Science Fiction
How To Purchase: Kindle | Kobo| Paperback (NEW!) – US or UK

My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Note: I received a free copy of Division in exchange for an honest review.

Conjoined twins Gordon and Johnny have never let their condition keep them from living full and fulfilling lives. Gordon looks forward to many years of closeness and cooperation. Johnny, however, faces their future with increasing restlessness, even dread.

When the boys are in their teens, the new technologies of accelerated human cloning and brain transplants are combined into a single medical procedure — Transplant to Clone, or TTC. Someone whose body has suffered such extensive damage as to make normal life impossible may — with court approval — be cloned and then given a brain transplant into the clone body. With Gordon’s unwitting assistance, Johnny realizes that the TTC procedure provides the chance he had never dared to hope for — the chance to live in a “normal,” separate body.

But Gordon considers their conjoined life a blessing, rather than a curse. He has no intention of accepting separation — not without a fight . . .

Division is one of the best books I read in 2013, a year in which I read Parasite and We Need to Talk About Kevin. (And the Divergent trilogy, but I didn’t actually like those books, so no competition there.) I liked it so much that I asked author Karen A. Wyle to write a guest post for the blog, which she did last Friday.

I read books to escape and be entertained, like everyone else. But more, I read books to be challenged intellectually, and Division does just that.

This is a story about a pair of conjoined twins. One twin wants to undergo an operation to separate them into two bodies, while the other wants to stay joined. This is set in the near future, where the twins must present their arguments in court because the procedure requires the use of clones and cloning is restricted. The book follows a variety of characters as they cope with the emotional atmosphere up to and after the decision.

I get swept away by books like these that explore what it’s like living in the skin of an unusual, unexpected person. Division puts us into the experiences of a twin who want to be free, showing us what life is like chained to another person. It shows us the struggle the other twin undergoes when he’s–in his mind–rejected by someone closer than a lover could ever be. It even examines how their struggle affects their mother, who’s loved them unconditionally from birth and must watch their relationship fall apart. It follows a girlfriend who believed she would, someday soon, marry two people in one body.

A variety of moral questions are opened without direct treatment, which was skillful and impressive. Should the twins be allowed to leave their body for clones? Should a court have the responsibility to decide the future of their lives? Can there ever be a “right” answer when both of them want something mutually exclusive? Yet the morality was never heavy-handed, but was instead a backdrop for the interesting and subtle character interactions.

This book is one of the beautiful pieces of self-published literature that inspires me. The author, Karen A. Wyle, has published several other books that I’m eager to check out. Not to get on my soapbox again, but meticulous attention to detail–plot, character, premise, grammar–is what makes people want to read books. You don’t have to be traditionally published, though you may have to work your bum off twice as hard to get noticed. I heartily recommend this book.

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Guest Post: “But I Can’t Do That”: Re-Examining Our Rules for Reading by Karen A. Wyle

Today is another very special day! I am excited to host author Karen A. Wyle. I enjoyed her most recent release, Division, so much that I reached out to host her on Magic & Mayhem. She’s here today, sharing her thoughts on self-imposed reading customs.

One of my daughters had surgery not long ago. Knowing she would have weeks of limited activity, she decided to make the best of it and reread the Harry Potter series. It had been years since her last immersion in the books, and she found herself irritated or frustrated by passages that had not bothered her before (or not as much).

At one point, she was grumbling about having half of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix to slog through before she could reach her favorite section (featuring “Dumbledore’s Army”). I timidly suggested: “How about skipping ahead? After all, you’ve read the book how many times before?”

My daughter’s spluttering outrage at my proposal came as no surprise. I used to have my own rules for reading — rules I never thought of doubting or reassessing until I was a good deal older than my daughter. I finished every book I started. I never peeked ahead. When I reread books (as I habitually did), I reread them entirely and in order.

I don’t know which book finally triggered the first rebellious impulse. I do remember feeling a combination of lightness and disorientation, like a boat loose from its moorings, when I actually decided to close the book I was no longer enjoying.

It’s easy enough to justify putting these rules aside. Life is short (and getting shorter, from my perspective). There are so many books out there. (And it’s so easy to get them, in this era of free and inexpensive ebooks!) I read for pleasure, or for knowledge, or for self-knowledge. If a book is no longer providing me with any of these benefits, why not go in search of one that will?

But why did I follow these rules in the first place, and why do so many others still treat them as unbreakable?

There’s respect for the author, and for all the work and talent the author invested in the book. In light of that impressive and intimidating commitment, how can we begrudge a few hours or days of our time? I expect we also tend to harbor an irrational fear that the author will Know — will somehow sniff out our cavalier rejection of what the author worked so hard to lay before us. That’s hardly likely, unless we take the trouble to publish a DNF (did not finish) review.

There’s the fear that we’re bailing too soon: that if we only kept reading for another few pages, the book would reel us in, and provide us with a moving or thought-provoking or entertaining experience that we’d have been sorry to miss.

For some of us, lack of commitment, the failure to finish what we’ve started, is a pattern that goes well beyond our reading habits. Discarding a book unfinished reminds us of skills never mastered, courses never completed, careers never actually begun.

Hmmmm. Leaving aside the superstitious fear of omniscient authors, these are good reasons to keep reading! Should I reconsider, repent, and resolve never again to discard a book after ten, twenty or fifty pages?

Well, no. I may, after all this analysis, try to give each book a bit more of a chance. But in the end, I’m going to trust myself. Most of the time, if a book and I are meant for each other, I think I’ll know. And if it isn’t meant to be, I’m going to let go, gracefully and without remorse. We’ll agree, the book and I, to see other people. We’ll both be happier that way.

P.S. I showed this column to my other daughter, who told me that she has quite a different reason for reading all books in order. When she reads fiction, she becomes thoroughly immersed in the story. If she were to skip about, the experience would lose some of the reality she cherishes — and she would feel strange exercising an ability denied to the characters.

Thanks for your thoughts, Karen. It’s only been within the last year that I have been able to abandon books. I even created a Goodreads shelf to give myself “permission” not to finish them. But it’s still tough to put one down.

What do you guys think? What kind of self-imposed customs do you have? When did you first allow yourself to stop reading a book–or do you slog through the entire thing cover-to-cover no matter what?

Come back on Monday for my review of Karen’s Division!