From School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-With The Different Girl, Dahlquist presents a cryptic vision of the future through the eyes of artificial intelligence. Life has always been the same for four teens. The girls study their island with the help of their teachers. Each day is the same: walking and talking and building upon the things they learned in the days before until it is time for the teachers to put them to sleep. But when May arrives, life begins to change at a frightening pace. The narrator, Veronika, knows only what her teachers tell her and what she is able to observe. Readers must rely heavily on imagination and inference to puzzle out the circumstances of the world beyond the island and the extreme secrecy that seems to surround the four robotic girls and their handlers. Fans of science fiction and dystopian societies will find plenty to pique their interest, but little to satisfy their questions.-Sara Saxton, Tuzzy Consortium Library, Barrow, AKα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Told from the perspective of one of four identical, but not interchangeable, girls isolated on an island with their two adult caretakers, Dahlquist’s introspective sf novel asks readers to ponder the nature of thinking itself. Veronika has red hair, and in the beginning that’s how she differentiates herself—her sisters’ hair colors are black (Eleanor), yellow (Isobel), and brown (Caroline). Every day they meticulously observe their surroundings and report to Irene and Robbert, who are teaching them to think for themselves instead of as a unit. Their patterns are disrupted when May shipwrecks on the island, bringing trouble, and the girls must learn new ways to survive. Spoiler alert: the girls are androids, something that becomes clear as Veronika tells of her awakening, but her limited understanding of the larger picture may frustrate readers, as could the lack of a fully realized world. On the other hand, the unanswered questions will make for great discussions: Why is their existence secret? What is their purpose? Who attacks the island and why? Readers will no doubt want to know. Grades 7-10. --Krista Hutley