Thirteen Ways to Kill Lulabelle Rock

By Maud Woolf

Thirteen Ways to Kill Lulabelle Rock, a novel by Maud Woolf
Book details

Wouldn’t it be great to be in more than one place at once? Rather than having to do all those boring jobs you could make a version of yourself to do it for you, leaving time for you to do what you really want, like playing too many computer games or reading too many books. Before you know it, you may have versions all over the place to do even small tasks like walking the dog or taking the bins out. The actor in Thirteen Ways to Kill Lulabelle Rock by Maud Woolf has decided that there are too many of versions around that they threaten her exclusivity, that is why the thirteenth portrait has been woken to kill the rest. 

The actor Lulabelle Rock seems to be everywhere, on screen, in the papers, in her mansion. This is because she is, or at least a version of her is. A new designer product called Portraits are on the market that allow the rich to produce versions of themselves. Lulabelle now feels that there are too many of her, so number thirteen is death. A legal loophole means that Lulabelle cannot kill someone, that is murder, but killing herself is not, even killing herself 13 times. 

The premise alone for Lulabelle is enough to make the pulp science fiction lover in me to sit up and pay attention. The idea of a clone like person being tasked with killing their earlier versions sounds great. This book is more than that. Woolf has also created a freaky new world of the future, which is in that utopian style, that is actually a dystopia. Everyone’s happiness is plastered on and do not look too far below the surface to witness the poor and downtrodden keeping the city aloft. 

The book is set in and around Bubble City, a messed-up LA-like of the future, where anything is possible, but most don’t get to do it. Lulabelle does, but she cannot do it all. She has a version of herself to walk around the boutiques being photographed, one who controls her social media, and a version to party. There are also hidden versions she uses to fulfil her fantasies of being a true artist or family woman. Lulabelle has decided that they all need to die and Thirteen is her weapon of choice. 

The book is split into chapters as each Portrait is tracked down, but the book is not a simple kill and move on story. Thirteen may only be a day old but she has her maker’s memories, and she is starting to make her own. Can Thirteen kill all other versions of herself and end in her own demise? The book is as much about the internal struggle of the character as it is the external action of an assassin tasked with killing themselves. I would go as far as to say that the book would appeal more to those that enjoy character study over action as it becomes a piece about discovering who you are. Are we the product of out makers or our environment? 

For a book that is about killing clones, Lulabelle is a surprisingly cerebral book that poses some great science fiction conundrums. The style is a lovely mix of classic crime noir and failed utopia. The thirteenth Lulabelle is the perfect protagonist for us to visit Woolf’s world with as they are discovering it as the same time as the reader. A thoughtful and unique feeling work of science fiction that is the perfect way to start your reading in a new year.  

Written on 3rd January 2024 by .

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