Here’s a little piece I wrote for Booklist on switching genres from crime fiction to the crazy hybrid thing that EXTRA LIFE is: a young adult contemporary science fiction thriller.
Those familiar with my other books might be wondering where this one came from, and whether it’s up your alley. It’s still a thriller–in fact, even more of a fast-paced thriller than anything I’ve done before. I’m writing from the point of view of my protagonist for the first time, a sharp-tongued sixteen-year-old kid, but there’s an ageless obsession with the last few decades of movie culture, too.
I think it works for readers of all ages, kind of like READY PLAYER ONE did a few years back.
At its deepest level, EXTRA LIFE arises out of the same preoccupations I’m probably stuck with for good–what it means to be a self, what identity is, how time and circumstance and situation change who we are. It’s definitely a question young adults ask themselves, but I think it’s pertinent for all of us.
This time around, I’m attacking these questions directly, through the lens of science fiction. I’ve long been fascinated, for example, with the question of the “philosophical zombie.” If there were an exact replica made of you, would it share your consciousness? If not, is it “alive?” And therefore what does “alive” mean?
Or what if we were to actually invent teleportation. If your true self is evaporated and a copy is made, are you still “you” on the other end? Has your consciousness vanished? These are the questions that keep me up at night. In the end, they’re really questions about that unknown country, aren’t they?
So that’s what EXTRA LIFE is–a breakneck thriller and a twisty mind-bending foray into questions of what it means to be who we are. It’s also a love-letter to the movies and the movie-making business. Give it a try. Let me know what you think!