REPLICA, the first book in Lauren Oliver’s latest duology, will enrapture conspiracy theory lovers!
Lauren Oliver is back on the scene with the first book in a new duology with a sci-fi edge, Replica!
Replica has some great plot twists (more on those later), but there’s also some actual twisting involved. You see, this book has logistics involved. It’s basically three books in one: Gemma’s story, Lyra’s story, and a chapter-by-chapter flip strategy to get a more in-depth, comprehensive version of the tale. We used the third method of reading and in this case, the physical book is practically a requirement. It also required not one but TWO sturdy bookmarks that stick in the page well, because Gemma and Lyra’s halves of the book are inverse, so you’re flipping the book upside down with each new chapter. It sometimes got messy, but it was worth it!
As previously mentioned, Replica follows two characters. Gemma is a sickly teen who hasn’t had a particular easy life despite her parents’ coddling. She’s sheltered, almost unbearably so. But her parents reasons become clearer when Gemma discovers her family’s mysterious connection to a top secret research facility called Haven. She runs away from her bubble of a life to investigate and find out why they’re being threatened. Meanwhile, Lyra aka number 24 is a subject at Haven– a clone treated as subhuman. That is, until the day she and another clone known only as number 72 narrowly escape the island facility and haphazardly find themselves thrown into the real world, trying to expose Haven’s atrocities without getting themselves killed in the process.
Gemma and Lyra are likable characters. You’re always concerned for them and you want to know the answers to their big questions, but in true Lauren Oliver style, they’re very subtle. The author is not one for main characters with louder personalities and as such, they don’t necessarily yank you in as quickly as you’d hope. We found ourselves drawn in a little more by the secondary characters like Jake, who has been tracking the scoop on Haven for years, Lyra’s feistier replica companion 72, and Gemma’s best friend Alice, whose varying knowledge adds interesting scenes to the narrative. We also had a soft spot for Pete, an equally outcasted boy from school who Gemma initially goes along with on her excursion with the best quips in the novel by far.
If you plan to flip between character POVs like we did, be aware that there will be some scene overlap. Gemma and Lyra meet up in their adventures, but since their stories can be read separately, some scenes are repeated.
Per usual, Lauren Oliver knows how to throw in solid twists. There were more than a couple moments of “How did I not see that?!” as the story unfolds (though one reveal kind of gives away another.) Additionally, there are some gutsy plot choices made in Replica that safer authors wouldn’t even consider– The reaction will be different for different people, but we thought it worked. But there’s still something that irked us: Though Gemma and Lyra’s stories are wild, dangerous, and life-threatening, something about the writing style didn’t consistently convey a sense of urgency. We knew the characters were in trouble, but we didn’t always FEEL it or care beyond the basic human instinct that nobody should be threatened unjustly.
Replica definitely scores points on a thematic level as the characters struggle with nature versus nurture and how they identify themselves in this big, crazy world full of secrets. We know that no person should ever be considered a commodity, but the story does a solid job spreading more light on those emotions.
Though the end of the novel isn’t particularly cliffhanger-y, we’re still very keen to discover what will happen in final book of the duology, Helix!
RATING: 3.5 OUT OF 5 STARS
Replica hits shelves on October 4, 2016. You can pre-order it now via Amazon.
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…