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Taylor Five    by Ann Halam order for
Taylor Five
by Ann Halam
Order:  USA  Can
Wendy Lamb Books, 2004 (2002)
Hardcover, Paperback, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

In Taylor Five, Ann Halam gives us thrilling adventure, in the context of exciting topics in human cloning and environmental conservation. Tay (Taylor) Walker has long known that she was adopted, but has only recently been made aware that she was cloned from famous scientist Pam Taylor, who is also the best friend of her parents. Tay is very disturbed by the idea of being a 'human photocopy'. Her parents, Ben and Mary Walker, are currently wardens of an orangutan refuge in the (fictional) Kandah State, Borneo. Tay lives there with them, though her younger brother Donny has been sent to boarding school in Singapore.

As the story opens, Tay meets Donny at Kandah City airport. Their return to the refuge is delayed by rebel activity, which has flared up recently. They enjoy their reunion, and one day receive permission to go on an excursion to nearby caves - the two children are accompanied by a protective orangutan, a great red ape named Uncle. While in the cave they realize that a forest fire is burning and take shelter until it's over. When they make their way back to the refuge they find total disaster. The rebels have been there, killed a graduate student and kidnapped most of the staff. Shocked and scared, Tay, Donny and Uncle drive out with a wounded scientist whom they found in hiding, but they soon hit a rebel checkpoint.

Uncle, Tay and Donny end up walking through jungle, with Donny injured. Tay takes responsibility, with wise help from Uncle. Remembering stories of her namesake Pam Taylor's adventures, Tay finds time to be reassured that she has the same genes, ones which should allow her to cope with the challenges ahead. She does so - though they are tougher than she ever imagined - and makes her way to meet a rescue party led by Pam Taylor from an offshore ship. Though happy to have survived, Tay comes in conflict with Pam over how Uncle is treated - they eventually reconcile, and find a solution to Tay's concerns together.

Tay learns more about the reasons behind her own existence, and about five other teenage clones whom she might someday meet. She has choices to make about her future, tragedy that she must come to accept, and responsibility towards a great-hearted person she has wronged. Taylor Five is a remarkable tale - I enjoyed it very much and highly recommend it to you.

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