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The Original

Narrated by: Julia Whelan
Length: 3 hrs and 24 mins
4.4 out of 5 stars (14 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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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Shaw51
  • 2020-09-15

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.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Corax
  • 2020-09-14

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.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Bam Bam
  • 2020-09-21

Foul language

Love Brandon, but not ok with all the foul language. Some big ones and the lords name in vain many times. Very surprised and very disappointed.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Krista
  • 2020-09-17

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.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Michael
  • 2020-09-17

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.

2 people found this helpful

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  • C. Olson
  • 2020-09-21

Would make a good movie, I think

Enjoyable, but too hurried and didn’t live up to the promising concept for this listener

1 person found this helpful

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  • eric thompson
  • 2020-09-19

Kinda goofy, but reasonable writing

One of those stories that leans on lots of crazy coincidences and the same bad guys showing up in the most unlikely places. It also portrays a two dimensional future where there's just one technology change that molds all of life. It has some interesting conundrums and cute interchanges, but even the big moral dilemma is only given 3 minutes of the story. Kind of like this was a good start.

1 person found this helpful

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  • T. Trefan
  • 2020-09-17

a decent enough story ruined by background noise

I really really don't like audiobooks with sound effects. It distracts from the narrative as I'm trying to hear every word she says. It's largely why i don't buy many Star Wars books. I want to hear the book, not a tv show.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Henrik Sörensen
  • 2020-09-17

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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  • Kacy R
  • 2020-09-28

Jumps right into the action.

This had me hooked from the very first sentence. I actually enjoyed that this was shorter because there was no build up. It immediately jumped right into the gripping story. The narrator does a great job and I actually enjoyed the music/background noise that would pop during an intense scene. The ending was perfect. I love these type of stories that keep you guessing from start to finish.