The Unsame Ones

  • by Stephanie Skeem
  • Narrated by Stephanie Skeem
  • 14 hrs and 0 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

I was born in January.
So I am January, and everything that it entails. I bear the same name as a million other Januaries just like me, the same look, the same genetic makeup, the same job, the same face, the same goals, and the same dreams. I am and will be a secretary for the rest of my life. I am good at what I do; I was made for my job, and my job was made for me.
I am Same.
I have lived the same as every other January like me for 17 years. And a year from now, on the first of January, I will die from the same genetic defect every January has died from. No January has ever lived past 18.
No January has ever wanted to...until now.
I believe I have been infected with the Unsame Virus. My head aches, throbs, and pounds without ever stopping. Before now, I never felt pain. I know I must turn myself in. That is the only logical thing to do.
It all started with the hideous Unsame One who crossed my path, and thrust a strange object into my hands. It is he who is to blame, and it is I who must fight this. I cannot shut out my master, keeper, and overseer, Time - nor disobey the clock. I will forever march to its dictates and remain true.
I am a Same One.
I was born Same.
I have lived Same.
And I will die Same.
I am January.
I am Same.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

an interesting dystopian experiment

There are different people in this society, twelve to be exact. Depending on the month they are born they have a different set of skills and a certain job. Januaries are secretaries, Marches are cops. Novembers and Decembers are at the top of the hierarchy, and they are also who live the longest. Because the same ones have an expire date, each type with a different congenital defect that will kill them when the time comes. Everything is designed to have a perfect society, and this is why they chase and kill the unsame ones, which are believed to carry the unsame virus, a potential danger for the society of sames.

The main character in this book is a seventeen year old January, and this means that this will be the last year of her life. One day she suddenly meets an unsame one who gives her a violin asking her to promise him to keep it safe. She will face then new situations and will have new thoughts that will change the course of her normal life.

The premises of this story were really good but the execution failed at several levels. The book is 14 hours long but with the poor development and depth it has I just see material for a short story. The length comes from the repetitions and reiterations all along the book, I guess to set the mood and make us see the world through this  January's eyes.

There are a couple of twist to the plot, but they were not totally unexpected. The interaction with the Decembers and how one of them reveals what they use the unsame ones' blood for were quite forced. The descriptions failed for me since everything was just grey, but it was difficult to imagine January's surroundings. I expected to learn a bit more about how the society worked, how it was formed and its origins. It is like the writer presented a skeleton but failed at showing the muscles and how the body moves. I guess we should take this book just as a dystopian experiment to make us reflect about life and decisions. It felt odd how nobody noticed how differently this January behaved and the fact that she visited unexpected places. I expected this society to be a version of the Big Brother, where everything out of the normal is quickly denounced, but everything goes unnoticed until the end. One would wonder how this society did not fail before.

The end was more fantasy or magic than science fiction, and in spite of its beauty, I found it a bit disappointing.

I could not understand January's attitude towards the end of the book. This made me disconnect from her as a character, and made the story even less realistic.

The book is narrated by the Stephanie Skeem herself. Her diction was very clear, and the voices were good enough to identify the subject. She put a lot of passion into the dialogs and made the book an easy listen. Due to this  and the constant repetitions, I was able to listen to the book a bit faster than usual. I normally listen at 1.2 - 1.4 and here I was comfortable at 1.6 - 1.8, and even like that some parts felt slow. I guess it was due to the reiterations and the very little useful information.

I enjoyed this book, and found it an interesting dystopian experiment. I just wish it was properly edited before its publication, since some hours should have been trimmed off. The author has a lot of potential, and I hope she continues writing.

Audiobook was provided for review by the author.

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Dystopic, dysfunctional engineered society

The Unsame Ones by Stephanie Steem is a futuristic dystopic novel of a society genetically engineered to produce a dozen types of humans that perform routine, generic housekeeping functions of an organized city all without emotion or enjoyment for any activity. In addition, each type, named for a particular month are programmed to die after a specific number of years on the same day."Sameness" is valued above all else to the exclusion of life having any meaning whatsoever. The story revolves around a January girl, Jan, who runs into an "unsame" who gives her a violin which initiates a gradual revelation on her part into the dysfunction of her society and the power of "unsame" elements such as music that her upbringing has ignored.

The sci-fi elements revolve around a futuristic dystopic vision of a society that attempted to eliminate any human pain or discomfort by genetic engineering human to a more simplified, sterile life experience. Unfortunately, the story fails on several levels. The depicted society is simply too sparse for any reasonable degree of sustainability. Typically, dystopic societies are either due to a megalomanical control freak or some past attempt at bettering society that went awry. This tale leans more to the latter, but there is little background explanation to detail its origin and give some sense of how things came to be. There's also little in the way of this pervasiveness throughout the world, as the city acts as if self sufficient, but there's little mention of a wider world from which the unsame appear.

At the same time, there are several glaring logical inconsistencies that stand out. For example, the blood of an "unsame" supposedly has the special properties to overcome the genetic restrictions on life expiration. With the top dog month, December, working on exploiting this, one would think they would have a desire to develop a captive breeding program of unsames; instead, they elect to beat and bleed dry a captured unsame. Also, for a logic based society, engineering clerical staff to all die after only 18 years makes little sense in terms of efficiency or productivity. In addition, although Jan has less than 30 days until her natural death, the entire power structure of the society seems determined to reset her "sameness" for inexplicable reasons. For a girl raised from birth without parents, toys, literature, music, or art and trained solely for clerical work, it's hard to imagine where she would experience the context to describe a sound as "haunting" or something like a ghost or dragon.

The narration is particularly frustrating as the production quality is quite low with a persistent background hum in quieter sections. The banter between Jan and Blade is little more than repetitive, "yes you are; no I'm not" lacking in range. Pacing is painfully slow. Finally, THE...DE...CI...SION...TO...HAVE...THE...DE...CEM...BERS...SPEAK...IN...A...RO...BO...TIC... MO...NO...TONE...THAT...DRAGS...EVE...RY...THING...OUT was annoying, frustrating and amplified the slow pace. The moral of the story is to avoid conformity, but even old style Soviet propaganda films that were anti-capitalism were less outlandish and bit more subtle in their approach.
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- Michael G Kurilla

Book Details

  • Release Date: 03-25-2016
  • Publisher: Stephanie Skeem