Title: Resembling Lepus
Author: Amanda Kool
Publisher: Grey Matter Press
Publication date: April 26, 2022
Genre: Science Fiction, Mystery
One Sentence Summary: In a post-dystopian world that’s been seriously impacted by climate change, a murder rocks the community, and one detective is out to stop the murderer before it gets worse.
Resembling Lepus is a science fiction murder mystery set in a world that’s recovering from a mass extinction event. The murder is shocking in the context of the world, which was extraordinarily well-developed given this is a novella. I loved that the world and the mystery went hand-in-hand, one depending on the other to create a full story that is terrible, surprising, and offers food for thought. While I couldn’t shake the question of what the Detective’s name was, I was still able to fully enjoy this story and how well everything built on everything else to form an intriguing case that also managed to say quite a bit about society.
Earth has survived a mass extinction event, barely. When plants and animals had begun to die at alarming rates, humans needed to leap into action, and ended up creating the world Resembling Lepus is set in. Here, the unhealthy air is heavily filtered, food is severely rationed, and imitations of animals and humans walk the Earth, to be treated the same as any other living creature. There are laws for that.
One cold morning, an unnamed Detective is called to the scene of a murder. It’s heinous and disturbing, and it happens again and again. With a trusted medical doctor to help her solve the case, she not only must follow the clues, but also grapple with questions for herself and what her actions and this case may mean for society.
Resembling Lepus is a novella, so the pace is quite fast, but it never felt like it was too fast. It just meant the case was relatively uncomplicated and anything that would have added more layers were stripped out. Since I’m unaccustomed to reading novellas, I was a little surprised at just how fast and quick it was. Despite that, I was still able to enjoy the story and the questions it raises. While there wasn’t as much development as might be found in a novel, it set the stage very nicely in just a few sentences, and then the rest of the story took that and ran off to become an intriguing science fiction murder mystery.
My favorite part of Resembling Lepus was the world. I don’t believe I’ve read a post-dystopian novel before, but I quite liked this. My biggest complaint with science fiction and dystopia is that I have a hard time connecting the present and future. What I loved about this novella was I could see the connection. I can see how climate change can impact the flora and fauna and how that might make the world collapse and engender the changes we see in Resembling Lepus. Everything that flowed from the extinction event was directly impacted by that event. The world isn’t explored in-depth and there are no lengthy descriptions or history given, but it’s enough to perfectly set the stage for literally everything in the story. It made complete sense to me, and felt strikingly important once I readjusted my mind to align with the world. I loved that hints about the world were dropped in and woven into the narrative, like, yes, chocolate must be difficult to come by since the Detective is hoping to find some have been delivered with their rations when she gets home. The details are small, but they are mighty, and I absolutely loved them. Every little piece painted a bigger, wider picture. It was the perfect backdrop and just went hand-in-hand with the murder mystery so well.
I don’t want to write too much about the murder mystery because, going into it myself, I had no idea what to expect and the surprise just really made the story for me. It was surprising and unexpected and, once I mentally adjusted, was just as horrifying as any other kind of murder mystery. It worked really well within the confines of the world, and offered greater ramifications and questions. However, because this is a novella, there wasn’t much room to add complexity or layers. The mystery was fairly straightforward, but, considering the reader never gets the chance to meet suspects throughout the story, impossible to figure out until closer to the end when crucial information is provided. When I was finished reading, I missed the twists and turns, but the motivation was truly captivating and just brought up so many questions in my mind. Mostly, I didn’t question the dearth of complexity since the technological advances made some things quite easy and of course the Detective would jump to using them because that’s what they use.
The Detective wasn’t one I felt I really figured out. For one, there isn’t much space or time to really get to know her, and I felt a little off-balance since she’s not even given a name. I found it curious, and the medical doctor she works with is similarly unnamed. It was quite an adjustment to me, and I wonder if it was done to help insert the reader into the story so they can ask some interesting ethical questions of themselves as the story is written in first person. But I still wished to have gotten to know the Detective a little better. I could feel her horror and surprise and determination, but failed to really grasp her relationship with her husband and her colleagues. Even her relationship with the doctor felt a bit odd, at times strictly professional and at other times very knowing, in a more casual way. In the end, the characters were probably the weakest part of the story to me, but I still found the Detective interesting and could appreciate the spots she was put in.
Resembling Lepus really packs it in. There’s a lot to think about and questions to ruminate on. It touches on identity and transference of consciousness as well as what to do with android-like creatures, which are called imitations, as they seem in every way to be just as human or animal as the real ones. While much of the story was devoted to solving the mystery and figuring out what was going on, a good chunk of the ending was given over to prompting questions from the reader. Resembling Lepus does offer a very satisfying end, and I really liked how all the issues the story touched on swirled together to really offer interesting insights into this society, as well as questions that maybe we can ask today.
Resembling Lepus was a fascinating science fiction mystery read to me. I enjoyed how streamlined it was, and didn’t even miss the twists and turns of novel-length mysteries until I had finished. The story kept my attention, though I did find myself asking more than once what the Detective’s name was. The world was incredible and the mystery intriguing and thought-provoking. I liked that it managed to pack in so many things and never short-changed any of them. They worked out so well together that each element depended on another. Resembling Lepus is tightly woven and offers a great deal of food for thought.
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Thank you to Anthony Rivera of Grey Matter Press for a review copy. All opinions expressed are my own.
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