Published by Hodder & Stoughton on October 11th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Amazon | Book Depository | Publisher | Angus & Robertson | Booktopia
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Lyra's story begins in the Haven Institute, a building tucked away on a private island off the coast of Florida that from a distance looks serene and even beautiful. But up close the locked doors, military guards, and biohazard suits tell a different story. In truth, Haven is a clandestine research facility where thousands of replicas, or human models, are born, raised, and observed. When a surprise attack is launched on Haven, two of its young experimental subjects - Lyra, aka number 24, and the boy known only as 72 - manage to escape.
Gemma has been in and out of hospitals for as long as she can remember. A lonely teen, her life is circumscribed by home, school, and her best friend, April. But after she is nearly abducted by a stranger claiming to know her, Gemma starts to investigate her family's past and discovers her father's mysterious connection to the secretive Haven Institute. Hungry for answers, she travels to Florida, only to stumble upon two replicas and a completely new set of questions.
They say there’s three sides to every story – and there’s three ways of reading Replica. With two stories printed on either side of the book, you can choose to read one story at a time, or alternate chapters between Lyra and Gemma, which is what I did.
Lyra is a replica who starts off life in a research institute, who has never known anything else. Being subjected to endless medical experiments and seeing countless peers suffer and die, I kind of thought she would be more traumatised or emotionally affected at her circumstances. However, despite her disturbing back story, Lyra kind of felt bland and boring. As she discovers the real world around her with the boy replica 72, she endlessly compares life to the research institute. She didn’t really have a strong personality and didn’t feel like a very believable character.
On the other side is Gemma, a girl who is searching for answers about her past which leads her to Haven, the same research institute where Lyra resides. Despite her insecurities with her weight and her swooning for the pervy Pete and later, the symmetrically pleasing Jack, there also wasn’t much personality to her. She thought about kissing and her crushes at the most inopportune times, like when a man is holding a gun to her friend’s head. Also it’s kind of weird feeling anything for a love interest who is constantly referred to as “Pervy”, but there you have it.
If Lyra is from the freaky dystopian future, then Gemma is more of a contemporary character who is struggling with her identity. Being the key selling point of the book, I was waiting for their storylines to converge, but when it got there, it was kind of underwhelming. Seeing the same situation happen in both of the characters point of views was repetitive and didn’t really give any useful deeper insight. As twists and secrets unfold while reading each perspective, I also felt like reading one side of the story first would spoil the other.
While I always find clones to be a fascinating topic, Replica doesn’t really delve too deep when it comes to them. I also didn’t like how the book lacked action despite a few dead bodies here and there and some explosions. There wasn’t much excitement while reading the story, despite a mild mystery as to what really happened at Haven. Upon reaching the end, I felt kind of disappointed like there wasn’t really a point to the story.
Monsters weren’t made, at least not by birth or fate by circumstance. Monsters chose to be monsters.
This isn’t the first time I’ve read a Lauren Oliver book – in fact, it’s the 5th one I’ve read from the author. Aside from Delirium, which I read at the peak of my dystopian phase, I’ve been disappointed with each and every one. Replica was no different and I don’t think I’ll pick up any of her other books after this. The books always end up focusing on a romance that I don’t really care about and bland characters with no personality. This is also the first book of hers that I’ve read that is set in third person perspective and it just didn’t feel natural, with a lot of “She did this, she did that, then she talked to this person”.
Even a pretty package and a cool premise couldn’t save Replica for me, with it’s bland characters, lacklustre plot and direction-less story. At over 500 pages, it’s quite a long book to be invested in and it really dragged out for me. While some people might enjoy the alternating chapters, I found myself to be quite disappointed when I reached the end.
Rating: 2 out of 5
Thanks to Hachette Australia for sending me a review copy!
At least there was this hilariously disturbing comment that I got out of the book: