Initial thoughts: I'm not really into novellas, so it's probably a good thing I didn't realise how short The Original was until after I had already borrowed it via Overdrive. In any case, I really enjoyed this one for the philosophical conundrum it explored: how do you beat yourself? That's the premise as Holly, the protagonist, is a provisional replica, ie. a clone, of an "original" human. Her job is to find her original and kill her as punishment for murder.
At the same time, The Original explored the ethics of cloning and whether or not replicas were as natural as humans born into the world. Instead of DNR orders referring to "do not resuscitate," the stood for "do not replicate." That was because generally people who died could essentially live on with their memories, personalities, etc in cloned bodies. I'd always been fascinated with such thought experiments during philosophy classes back in high school and university, so facing that in a fictional work all the more piqued my interest.
I also really liked the imagined near futuristic setting. The intersection of reality and simulation was very vivid, and I enjoyed how simulated realities could lead to a roomful of people who each experienced the same surroundings differently according to their preferences. The setting was a great parallel to Holly grappling with truths vs. lies as she set out to outwit and find her original.
As expected, Julia Whelan did a wonderful job narrating The Original, given that she is a seasoned narrator. Since this audiobook was considered a performance, it included sounds to bolster the atmosphere. an't say I cared very much of the pounding sounds that underscored the high stress situations. I found that very distracting to the point that it did inhibit my enjoyment for certain sections. Although, there were parts that give listeners insights into the background sounds and music for people who chose to rely on simulations as opposed to those who chose to take in the surroundings as they naturally were. In those cases, I did think it added to the listening experience.