I have to admit I got this book at BEA 2016 and it has been sitting on my shelf for far too long. It has unique formatting in that it is 2 books in one. On one side there is Lyra and then you flip the book over to fine Gemma. Each girl has a story to tell and they intertwine near the end.
My main issue with picking up this book to read was that unique formatting. I was right in thinking one story would spoil things for the other, but I was also wrong about the ways it would reveal so much into the other story as well. I also thought about all those books that alternate perspectives/character POVs every chapter and wondered why the author just didn’t do that. I still can’t answer that question, but I will tell you that reading Gemma’s perspective last helped me enjoy this book so much more.
Lyra is a replica, manufactured in an institution named Haven, where hundreds of other replicas are made. She was “born” and raised there and knows she is far from being human. It is in the way that she is known as a number, 24, and the way the staff doctors and nurses treat and talk about her and her peers. She is also one of the lucky ones that isn’t sick and dying of some unknown illness given to her by the very people caring for her. When Haven is attacked she and one other girl try to escape, while in hiding they meet a boy, known only as 72, who has also escaped Haven. In an ambush attack by the guards of Haven Lyra watches her best friend die right in front of her. She and 72 are left hiding out which is when they cross paths with Gemma.
Gemma was a sickly child and lives an only child sheltered existence. She clings to her mother and fears her father who seems like he can’t stand Gemma. One day Gemma is approached by a man who knows her and asks questions about her family she can’t answer. Her search for the truth leads her to trust a school mate to drive her to the Haven institute, a place with connections to her Father and his strange behavior toward Gemma. There Gemma runs into Lyra and 72 and learns some of the horrible truth about Haven. Gemma also meets Luke, an expose blogger who helps puts the pieces together for Gemma and keep Lyra and Gemma together? Can Gemma and Lyra stay alive long enough to solve the mystery of their origins?
I read Lyra’s story first and found it pretty entertaining. I couldn’t really relate to Lyra, but she is a replica so I doubt many readers could possible relate to her. Also, there are major holes in her story but part of that is that she doesn’t know anything about anything. I found her attachment to 72 obvious and believable. They are the only replicas that survive probably, so of course they bond. I didn’t understand how Haven caught on fire, or how so many people (or replicas) could be dead so fast. I admit that I almost put the book down after reading Lyra’s POV, but I am so glad I didn’t. Reading Gemma’s story helped with these issues immensely.
I loved the descriptions in this book. There is a lot going on but the author never let us forget where we were of how it felt for the characters involved in the scene. That’s a rare talent! I felt so many things during the reading and it made my respect for the author grow along with my enjoyment in reading this.
Still I did have some issues with this story.
- Gemma’s backstory is that she is very sheltered, but she goes to high school. To me that means she isn’t that sheltered, I mean she is not home schooled or privately tutored at home. She does get some socialization.
- The kids call her Frankenstein and that is a major issue in school for her because of some sort of scarring, but I never did figure out where her scars were on her body. Maybe I missed it.
- I also feel like there were extra characters thrown in to fill the plot holes (Luke I am looking at you).
There were some great things about this story too, beyond it’s uniqueness and attention to detail. For a minute there I thought there would be a stupid love triangle, but no, there is no triangle to worry about. I liked the fact that Gemma was not a stick figure and she is pretty hard on herself about the way she looks. Her thoughts about her weigh were pretty right on in my opinion. (Like that scene in the car where she wishes she would have worn pants because of how fat sitting made her legs look. I can so relate).
I kinda feel like Gemma as a character was much more filled out. Her story had so many more answers too, so maybe that is why I liked it more. Now that there are all these secrets dredged up about both Gemma and Lyra, I really need to see this through. Like, I now NEED to read the sequel.
Replica by Lauren Oliver
Series: Replica #1
Also in this series: Ringer
Published by HarperCollins on October 4th 2016
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Science Fiction, General, Dystopian, Family, Siblings
Also by this author: Ringer
ARC provided by BEA 2016, HarperCollins
Two girls, two stories, one epic novel—now a New York Times bestseller!
From Lauren Oliver, New York Times bestselling author of Before I Fall and the Delirium trilogy, comes an epic, masterful novel that explores issues of individuality, identity, and humanity. Replica is a “flip book” that contains two narratives in one, and it is the first in a duology. Turn the book one way and read Lyra’s story; turn the book over and upside down and read Gemma’s story. The stories can be read separately, one after the other, or in alternating chapters. The two distinct parts of this astonishing novel combine to produce an unforgettable journey. Even the innovative book jacket mirrors and extends the reading experience.
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, or 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 research facility. Hungry for answers, she travels to Florida, only to stumble upon two replicas and a completely new set of questions.
While the stories of Lyra and Gemma mirror each other, each contains breathtaking revelations critically important to the other story. Replica is an ambitious, thought-provoking masterwork.