In Lira’s world, there are two versions of Earth, all with the same cities and people. But the people and things on her home Earth are disappearing, a bit at a time. So Lira and others have been trained since they were very young to be sleepers — to infiltrate the other Earth and replace (read: kill without anyone else knowing what they’ve done) their alternates, waiting until they can wage war and take over the world that isn’t disappearing.
Lira only knows how to fight and kill and act like her alternate, while she’s in training as a child in “the cottages” and after she replaces Lirael and takes over her life. She has been trained not to feel, to be a soldier for the cause of the home Earth, but it still bothers her, almost on the edges of her consciousness, that all she knows is killing and pretending, being someone else and never just herself. She lives a half-life, existing, waiting, caring about her “sister” and the “grandparents” who are raising them but knowing she shouldn’t care about them or get comfortable in the alternate girl’s life.
The premise of The Unquiet is fascinating and could go in so many directions. Rather than being full of action and intrigue, however, the bulk of the book is really more a character study of a teen who has very little character of her own and is just a trained soldier. It’s interesting but also a drawback because her detachment from life and from others makes it difficult for readers to get attached to her, to care about her. The plot could lend itself to a short story quite easily or an hourlong episode of a show like “The Twilight Zone” or something similar in which there is a bit of a twist. Intriguing but it didn’t quite satisfy as a full-length novel.
Rated: Moderate, for three uses of strong language, occasional milder language, violence (and plenty of talk of violence) but not much detail, and some kissing. Some references to alcohol use.