4 / 5 stars
Series: Replica #1
Author: Lauren Oliver
Genre: YA Sci Fi/Contemporary
Release Date: 4th October 2016
A summary (thanks, GoodReads):
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…
So this book is SUPER UNIQUE in the fact that it is made up of two independent, but interwoven narratives. You can choose to read Lyra then Gemma, Gemma then Lyra, or alternate between chapters of both.
I decided to read this book by starting with Lyra’s story, then moving onto Gemma’s. I’m really glad that I read it in that order, as whilst Gemma’s story is more fleshed out and provides more answers, the mystery left by Lyra’s story gave me that drive to finish reading the book.
Lyra’s story is faster-paced, intriguing, and I was flying through her chapters. Due to being a replica Lyra has a unique outlook 0n life, something that was refreshing compared to a lot of other YA protagonists. The exploration into biotechnology and science that we see in Lyra’s chapter was something I really enjoyed (as I am a massive science nerd, and study biotechnology at uni!!!). Despite Lyra’s detachment from the outside world and her style of storytelling, I found myself easily attached and invested with Lyra and her adventures.
Gemma, on the other hand, I really struggled to understand and empathise with. I understood why she had a feeling of not-belonging, but I couldn’t handle her near-consistent whining about being overweight. Also, due to the more fleshed-out, descriptive style of Gemma’s story, the pacing was far slower than in Lyra’s. We definitely got a lot more explanations from Gemma’s story, but I didn’t enjoy her story half as much.
The mystery aspect of this novel is great, and the few plot twists throughout were definitely enhanced by the order that I read the stories. I would highly recommend reading this book in the order of Lyra then Gemma.
One thing I didn’t enjoy was the romance that arose throughout. I didn’t feel like it was necessary for both Lyra and Gemma to become romantically involved (not with each other, haha, but no spoilers!). And I was extremely frustrated at the trope-y, ‘I’d never been told I was perfect, but I could see that he meant it, so I finally felt perfect’, crap. It drives my feminist side crazy that a girl needs a guy to feel like she’s perfect..ugh. However there were also some great moments of friendship in here between the girls, so props for that.
All in all, it was a fast-paced, unique book with some great character development and unexpected plot twists. Would definitely recommend.