Gemma has been in and out of hospitals since she was born. ‘A sickly child’, her lonely life to date has revolved around her home, school and one best friend, Alice. But when she discovers her father’s connection to the top secret Haven research facility, currently hitting the headlines and under siege by religious fanatics, Gemma decides to leave the sanctuary she’s always known to find the institute and determine what is going on there and why her father’s name seems inextricably linked to it.
Amidst the frenzy outside the institute’s walls, Lyra – or number 24 as she is known as at Haven – and a fellow experimental subject known only as 72, manage to escape. Encountering a world they never knew existed outside the walls of their secluded upbringing , they meet Gemma and, as they try to understand Haven’s purpose together, they uncover some earth-shattering secrets that will change the lives of both girls forever…
Song For This Book: All The Things She Said by Tatu
Why? This song seems to fit the mood of the book, plus there is a lot of focus on how one girl reacts to what the other says.
There has been so much hype surrounding this book. It was one of my most anticipated reads of this year, partially because clone books can be fascinating and partially because of the flip book set up. It looked so different than anything else I’ve read lately that I couldn’t resist picking it up when it first hit the shelves.
The story is told from the perspective of two girls: Gemma, who grew up in the real world and has a family and a relatively normal life and Lyra, who grew up in Haven as a replica. Gemma’s story is told from one side of the book until the middle, and Lyra’s from the other. There is some overlap in the stories when the girls interact, but they react to different things in very different ways as tings explode and truths get revealed.
I’d had really high hopes for this book, and while I wasn’t disappointed per se, I wasn’t as impressed as I’d hoped that I would be. The book was good, the story was well developed and thought out, but there was nothing about it that made me want to rave about it. I enjoyed it, but I wouldn’t call it a new favourite by any means. It fell somewhere in the middle, good but not great.
The Good Points of Replica:
The whole story is clearly well thought out and developed. Haven feels like a real place, and everything about Gemma’s life fits together beautifully. Oliver has clearly put in the world and developed a good world for her characters.
And on that note, I found the characters were very well developed. Gemma and Lyra are both well developed, they fit the environment that they come from, and their feelings and thoughts feel really genuine. If only all characters in YA fiction were developed in this way, the genre would be entirely different.
Telling the story from the perspective of the two characters worked really well for this story. There were a couple of times where it felt weird, especially when the two characters were telling their side of the same scene, but it did work, because they were both unique. And it was nice to get all of the story, and not miss anything when the characters were separated.
The science is presented in such a way that it doesn’t feel dumbed down, but you don’t feel dumb reading it. There’s nothing we are introduced to that is super complicated, but Oliver uses the proper names for diseases or their categories, making it feel like a proper sci-fi novel.
The Downsides of Replica:
I wanted so much more from this book. This doesn’t feel like a whole book, because you don’t get many answer and barely a conclusion. And while books are always good when they leave you wanting more, you should also feel like you got something from it.
While I thought that the two sides of the story worked, flipping back and forth was such a pain. I chose to flip after each chapter, and I do think this was the best way to read it for the first time. But that soon became every three chapters or so, because it was a hassle to constantly be adding bookmarks and flipping around and finding your place, only to have your other bookmark fall out of the book. Maybe this is because I’m lazy, but either way, if I read this again, I’ll only read one side at a time.
It’s pretty predictable. I doubt you’ll be surprised by much of what happens in this story, or by the twists that come up.
All in all, this was a fun read, and I’ll definitely be picking up the next book. Flipping was a hassle, but I liked how the two stories intertwined, if only Oliver had given us more of the story. If you’re into books about cloning, or if you enjoy Orphan Black and YA fiction, you should definitely give this one a go.
Have you read Replica yet? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below?