Hello, people of the internet!
Have you ever read a flip book before, where there’s two stories in one book – you read one side to read one story then you flip and turn the book around to read the other one? A book that looks like you’re reading the book upside down and confusing everyone that sees you reading? Well, Replica is such a book.
Author: Lauren Oliver
Publication date: 6th October 2016
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton
The Haven Institute is 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.
Encountering a world they never knew existed outside 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…
Gemma has been in and out of hospitals for as long as she can remember. A lonely teen, her life to date has revolved around 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 decides to leave the sanctuary of her home to travel to Florida, only to stumble upon two replicas amidst the frenzy outside Haven’s walls, and a completely new set of questions…
The idea of this book being a flip book is clever as one side of the story is from Lyra’s perspective and the other story is from Gemma’s perspective. In fact, there is a note from Lauren Oliver herself explaining that there are sections where there are identical sections of dialogue from Lyra and Gemma whenever they encounter one another, with a few differences due to their different perspectives and upbringings. Lauren Oliver explains that it’s to “reflect the belief that there is no single objective experience of the world” and that “no one sees of hears the same thing in exactly the same way”. It’s definitely something to think about when reading the two perspectives. If anything, it’s one of the best features about Replica.
The plot itself isn’t entirely new to me – I’ve read several science fiction books with very similar premises to this. Nonetheless, when I read Lyra’s story, I couldn’t predict everything what was going to happen. Though I was right with a few things, there were a few plot elements I didn’t see coming. However, when I began reading Gemma’s story, the overall mystery of the whole plot wasn’t there. Don’t get me wrong, there was still a little mystery concerning Gemma herself, but the mystery about Haven and its secrets was already solved when I read Lyra’s story. Because of this, I was in no hurry to pick up Replica again after I put it down. Yet, when I did start to read it, I got into it very quickly and read quite a lot in one sitting.
I don’t know if any other readers of this book felt the same way, but the whole book felt like the beginning of a series to me. It felt like it was only the start and I wanted to know more about what happened afterwards. If there was going to be a sequel, I would continue with it because I felt there wasn’t a lot of character development from both stories and would hope for more development there. Even though I did like them, they didn’t feel three-dimensional and what did develop didn’t surprise me and felt very typical of any story involving clones and the theme of humanity.
My main problem with the book is its writing involving romance. Even though their relationships do develop somewhat well and there is some chemistry between them, there are quite a few times where whenever both characters talked about their attraction towards their respective love interests, it would come out of nowhere and, most of the time, in moments that didn’t feel appropriate. For example, when they were in dangerous or tense situations, they would rather abruptly mention a certain feature about their love interest that they find attractive. It’s pretty strange to be honest. I don’t know, but I feel that if I was in a dangerous situation with my love interest, I wouldn’t think, “Oh my, I didn’t notice how beautiful his face looks at this angle. Oh, my ovaries…” I would instead think, “I’M OUTTA HERE! I WANNA LIVE!!!”
I know I’ve mentioned quite a few things I have a problem with, but I have to say – I did enjoy Replica. It does address themes of humanity and first love well and there were sections of the book I found were thought-provoking.
I will give Replica 3 stars out a 5. I did like this book and don’t regret reading it. If you have read Replica, what do you think about it?
Thank you for reading!