Saturday, 15 October 2016

Replica

Lyra doesn’t really have a name, she is number 24 until one of the doctors names the children in an act of kindness. She is a replica, created in Haven. They haven’t perfected the process and many of the children become ill and die, but this is the only life she knows. Gemma has been ill since she was little and kept sheltered by her parents. All she wants to do is go on spring break… it just so happens that where she’s heading is just down the coast from Haven, a place her dad has ties to.

Replica is two books in one, following the same story from the view point of two different characters. The print version is presented so that you turn the book over and upside down to read the other story, keeping them separate. The reader is invited to choose for themselves how to read the book, Gemma first, Lyra first or alternating between the two. I'd be interested to see how different choices affected how people got on with it. For the record, I read Lyra's story first, then Gemma's immediately after.

She had never hurt anyone to get what she wanted. Was that what made her less than human?

When I saw it was about a clone and a girl who always been poorly, I thought it might be story about the two sides of a moral conundrum. Using one group of people to save others but it wasn’t so. There wasn't any moral ambiguity but a general message that it doesn't matter where you came from, it's what you make of yourself that matters.

Lyra’s story is the more interesting of the two, seeing her limited world view and the idea that she isn’t aware there is anything wrong with Haven. I don’t think I would have found the ending satisfactory if I had read this after Gemma’s. I also really wish they hadn't tried to make a romance out if it, it didn’t seem quite right.

People, real people, believed they deserved things and were angry when they didn't get them. Replicas deserved nothing, received nothing, and so were never angry.

Whilst I enjoyed Lyra's side, I found Gemma's a bit of a trudge. Their narratives do deviate in places but I had that sense of knowing what was going to happen and I'm not sure there was enough difference. Just a few chapters in I just knew what it was that Gemma would learn, and I was right. Although her romantic arc was a bit more plausible and natural.

The girls both have low self-esteem, especially when it comes to body image. Both girls see themselves as ugly freaks. Lyra sees Gemma's softness and curves as beautiful. Gemma sees an ill yet pretty girl who has no reason not to think of herself a person.

She wondered if this was God's way of getting vengeance on the people who'd been made so unnaturally. He was always trying to unmake them.

Haven's motivations are a bit tenuous. I don't suppose many readers will know much about prion disease but it seems an odd choice. I do think the science side was more of a convenient vehicle for the structure rather than exploring the idea itself. On the plus side, at least a bunch of teenagers don't change the world. The stories are quite contained and more personal.

Replica is published by Hodder and is available now in hardback and ebook editions. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review.

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Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.

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