Genre: Young Adult, Sci-Fi
Date Published: October 4 2016 (US)
October 11th 2016 (UK/AUS)
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Buy: Amazon – Book Depository
Australia: Angus & Robertson – Booktopia – Hachette Australia
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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…
I received a free copy of this book via Hachette Australia and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
This was my first venture into a Lauren Oliver book and I was pleasantly surprised. I’ve had Delirium and Pandemonium on my bookshelf for as long as I can remember, but just never got around to picking them up. Replica has definitely made me want to change that, though.
Replica is about two girls, Lyra and Gemma, whose paths cross when they’re trying to uncover secrets of Haven Institute. Unbeknown to most of the general public Haven is creating “Replicas” or “clones”. Lyra has grown up at Haven and Gemma discovers that her father has ties to the institute. They learn that they have more in common than they think and discover some things that have the potential to change everything.
I was immediately intrigued by Replica when I heard that it could be read 3 different ways. As someone with little to no attention span, I appreciate writers so much who take initiative and come up with creative ways for their books to be read. It’s why I love books with mixed media so much. You can read Gemma and Lyra’s stories separately or alternate between chapters from both. I chose to alternate and I felt like it definitely helped you get the most out of the story. The only downside to this was that on my digital ARC there were no chapter links so I had to go through and bookmark everything and then rotate my Kindle – it was definitely worth it though. I have heard that the finished ebook copies have hotlinks though so you can easily flip back and forth. Lyra and Gemma’s stories intertwined perfectly, but they were separated enough to avoid repetition and if you want to read them separately you don’t need to worried about the stories spoiling each other. I can’t even imagine how much time and effort Lauren Oliver put into this, but it definitely shows and paid off.
A strange and baffling truth: that the people we’re supposed to know best can turn out to be strangers, and that near strangers can feel so much like home.
The topics that feature in Replica, which are heavily based in science and science fiction, can definitely cause info-dumping to happen. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case here. We were given enough explanation to understand what was happening, but there wasn’t an overload. There was enough of a mystery surrounding Haven to make you intrigued and excited to read the next book.
I enjoyed both Lyra and Gemma’s characters, but I preferred Lyra. She was so much more dimensional to me because of her situation. Having grown up in Haven for most of her life it was interesting to see her try to manage herself in “the real world”. Despite being locked away Lyra seemed a lot more level headed and reasonable than Gemma did.
Gemma was quite frustrating at times (and more than your usual teenager would be) – she would make a lot of stupid decisions. The one that really stood out to me was deciding to not tell her mother that she had almost been abducted. I’m sorry??? What???. The other main thing I disliked about Gemma was her hate for other girls and the way she body shamed – everyone. I understand why she may have been resentful because of her health (she’s been in and out of hospitals her entire life), but she automatically seemed to demonise every girl that wasn’t her best friend. Gemma was described as “overweight” because of her health issues and whilst it was good to see different body types she would make really off-handed comments that irked me. Despite the “girl hate” Gemma did have a wonderful and realistic relationship with her best friend, April. It was definitely one of my favourite parts of the book. I just wish it wasn’t so isolated. The girl hate and body shaming weren’t unbearable, but it was noticeable.
I’m never really a fan of the romance in books unless you’re Maggie Stiefvater, but again I enjoyed Lyra’s love interest more than Gemma’s. Gemma’s felt a more instalove-y than Lyra’s. We really got a chance to see the connection grown between Lyra and Caelum whereas I didn’t feel that with Gemma and Pete.
Replica could have been filled with tropes (and whilst there were a couple present here and there) overall it did a great job of turning everything you know on its head. I can’t remember the last time I read a 500+ pages book in 3 days, but that’s all it took for me to get through Replica. It was fast paced and really pulled you into the world. There were lots of twists and turns throughout the story. It’s a lot more interesting as you uncover the secrets along with Lyra and Gemma so I’ve kept this review as vague as possible. I’m definitely excited to see what happens and I can’t wait for the next book! I absolutely loved Lauren Oliver’s writing style and I am excited to read more of her books!
They would face it together, as they were then: turned human by joy, by a belonging that felt just like freedom.