Books: The Murders of Molly Southbourne and The Survival of Molly Southbourne by Tade Thompson
As you may have noticed from my reviews of the Rosewater trilogy books, I am a bit of a fan of Tade’s work. One of the first times I met him was at one of the SFX cons in London where he talked about how he always thinks of how characters react to bodily fluids when making them. He also talked about the first of these novellas and I admit that the concept absolutely intrigued me, so when I finally managed to get hold of them I plowed through them both in no time.
The Murders of Molly Southbourne
She loves that writers make words their servants and bend them to their will.
So the premise for the first novella is that Molly creates clones of herself every time she bleeds and these clones invariably try and murder her so she has to learn to defend herself against them from a very early age, with the help of her parents. Of course as she gets older she wants more from her life, to study, to maybe falling in love and that sort of thing.
She still has her clone problem to contend with as well, not to mention the mystery of why she is the way she is, all of which will definitely impact her attempts to live her life.
I did enjoy that Molly is a properly well realised female character who is entirely believable as such, she has a definitely distinctive voice of her own and tells her story in the way she wants to. Given how many bad examples of men writing women there are out there (there’s a whole Twitter account dedicated to showing them) it’s always refreshing to see it done well.
There is a very interesting thread of trauma and survival that runs through the book. In order to survive her life, Molly has to try and get used to, and deal with, some pretty awful experiences and the story does an excellent job of showing what living in survival mode does to someone. As someone who spent some years doing that, there are parts of the book that resonated with me very powerfully.
On the whole this is a strange and surreal tale, beautifully told that packs a remarkable amount into such a short number of pages and the ending is something that you do not entirely see coming either.
The Survival of Molly Southbourne
Warning, talking about this book in any way is going to involve spoilers for the first one so I would highly recommend not reading on unless you have already read it or don’t care about spoilers.
This book picks up where the first one left off, now following the surviving clone of Molly who is struggling to make sense of who they are, what they are and what they are going to do now with the life that the original Molly has bequeathed to them.
Much moreso than the first, this one explores what it means to be human, to be a person. Is the clone Molly? Are they the same given they have many of the same memories? And when any clone branches off from the original and makes it’s own memories do they then become a different person yet again? Who we are has a lot to do with our memories and experiences so change those or give them to someone else and what do you get?
It’s a theme that has been explored before, but this is a very interesting take on it, especially given the multiple clones and that rather brutal revelation that Molly didn’t necessarily need to be enemies with her clones, their violence was in reaction to the violence done to earlier ones as they gained those memories, not their original intent. There are good hints in the first book, but they are subtle things like one of the clones cuddling up to her when they are children and then trying to murder her later on. It’s enough to make you wonder about the nature of the clones, but I didn’t put all the pieces together before it’s shown to be not the only way for things to go.
The end of this book leaves additional room for more stories in this setting, there are definitely still unanswered questions that I would love to know the answers to here’s hoping for more of this at some point!