Lauren Oliver: Replica

replica-cover

I received a free physical copy of this book from the publishers in exchange for ask honest review.

Gemma has been in and out of hospital 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.

Lyra’s story begins in the Haven Institute, a building tucked away on a private island off the coast of Florida. From a distance it looks serene, 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 clones, 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 . . .

Replica is a dual-perspective novel that follows both Gemma and Lyra as they embark on journey’s that reveal the truth of both of their existences. Gemma has been in and out of hospital since a young age, and is coddled by her parents who worry that something bad will result in her back in hospital again. Lyra has never left the island that hosts the Haven Institute; she is aware that she is not truly human and believes that a life of tests, doctors, and top-security are normal. As both of their stories converge, the truth behind Haven begins to unravel with Gemma revealing a hidden secret within her family, and Lyra gaining a greater knowledge of her existence.

I found Replica to be an entirely different sort of the narrative with the presentation of the dual-perspectives. One half of the book is purely Gemma, whilst the other half is Lyra; flipped upside-down like a Manga. At times I did find this a bit disjointing when trying to keep the flow of the narrative progressing as I read, instead this would become disrupted with me having to flip the book over and search for the last chapter I read (purely my fault as well as I only possessed one bookmark!). In terms of the progression of the narrative, they both run parallel with chapters of similar length. Towards the middle of the narrative many of the chapters became repetitive with the duplication of dialogue and some action, however there were differences in perspective, feelings, and more subtle actions that the other character may not have noticed or been paying attention to. With this presentation of the novel, I decided to read two chapters of one narrative before swapping to the next. I found that this allowed me to settle into each perspective easily but also meant that when a key event took place in one novel, I was forced to read up to those events from the other perspective almost heightening the suspense in some instances.

In the beginning, it becomes clear the difference between Gemma (Human) and Lyra (Replica). Gemma’s narrative is more emotional and action-packed with scenes showing the family dynamics of the Ives’ family, whilst Lyra’s narrative appeared to have less emotion and feeling, almost as if she were a robot and unaware of what feelings and emotions were. Though she does possess some and feels friendship, hate, dislike towards certain people, there is some distance between Lyra and these people in the way that she sees them and interacts. Replica shows a lot of progression for both characters based on their actions, the events that take place, and the information that they unveil. What I really enjoyed was that both characters were aware of their development and saw it as something positive and life-changing. Gemma is more self and body-conscious in the beginning; she’s an outcast, an alien, a freak alongside her only friend, April. Whilst Lyra is someone used to routine and being told what to do and when to do it. Both characters break free from these restraints upon their person and are even more likable and relatable for this.

Alongside the overall enjoyment of the novel, I also appreciated the spotlight Lauren Oliver put on science and the possible advances in human cloning research and the ethics involved. It is clear that she has looked into this process and how it affects people positively and negatively in varying ways which added an altogether real, relatable, and more adult tone to this novel.

I really enjoyed the way that this novel played out and the differences to a generic novel with the structure and presentation. I can’t wait for the next book in the series to find out how far Gemma and Lyra will go in developing as characters and understanding their current situation within the novel.

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