Review: Replica by Lauren Oliver

replica Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Release date: October 6, 2016
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Pages: 520
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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, aka number 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 Institute. Hungry for answers, she travels to Florida, only to stumble upon two replicas and a completely new set of questions.

replica_covers

MY THOUGHTS

4 stars

Thank you to Hachette Australia for providing a review copy of the book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Replica is a sci-fi novel with a very interesting format. It is written from the perspectives of two different girls, Lyra and Gemma. You can read Lyra’s story first and then flip the book over and read Gemma’s story. You can do the opposite and read Gemma’s story first. You also have the option of reading alternating chapters of Lyra and Gemma’s story until their stories meet in the middle.

I personally read Replica in alternating chapters, starting with Lyra’s story and then ending with Gemma’s. I decided against reading one perspective after the other because I thought it would take away some of the suspense of the story because I’d already know important plot points from reading the first perspective in its entirety. Having now read the entire book, I would still choose to read it by alternating perspectives every chapter, but if you were to read one perspective at a time, I don’t think that there is too much overlap. One thing to note is that there is one extra chapter in Gemma’s perspective, so if you decided to read Replica in alternating chapters starting with Lyra’s perspective like I did, you’ll find yourself left with two Gemma chapters after Lyra’s story is over.

I really, really loved the concept of this story. I don’t read a whole lot of sci-fi but Replica falls into my favourite type of sci-fi. I enjoyed the concept of the Haven Institute, which is home to thousands of replicas or clones that are experimented with and observed. These replicas have extremely weak bodies and have never been outside of the Haven Institute. They’re born and bred at the Institute and spend their days undergoing cognitive testing and physical exams. They are completely uneducated and are unable to read. The only people they come in contact with are the doctors and nurses who work at the Institute, who constantly remind them that they’re different and are lesser than human beings. I loved the Haven Institute and all of the mystery surrounding it. Lyra’s perspective gave us some really good insight into the Institute and how the system of the replicas worked. I initially went into the book expecting the replicas to be like robots or androids but they were no different from humans. They displayed the same kinds of physical and mental illnesses and humans, including eating disorders and suicide ideation, which I found really intriguing and interesting. My only criticism of the Haven Institute is that I felt like the world needed a bit more development and that there were some things missing from the book. The novel spends a lot of time focusing on the origins and the purpose of the Haven Institute and I would have liked a bit more focus on the operations within the Institute. Having said that, Replica is the first novel in what I believe is a duology so I’m hoping these things will be addressed further in the sequel.

I loved both of the main characters in this novel but my personal favourite was Lyra. I thought her story was so interesting and unique and I really loved her voice. I enjoyed how Lyra had never really experienced the real world and how she handled learning about new things. I did however think that Gemma’s story was fleshed out a little bit more than Lyra’s (possibly because Gemma lives in our contemporary world that doesn’t need much development) and I would’ve liked to have seen a little bit more from Lyra’s perspective. I thought Lyra was sensitive, kind and intelligent and I connected with her character from the very beginning. I wasn’t enamoured by Gemma from the very start but she quickly grew on me. Her character and her worries were extremely relatable and I ended up loving her and wanting to read more about her story by the time I reached the end of the novel. Her perspective worked extremely well with Lyra’s and I thought together, the two stories came together in a very exhilarating manner.

What I really enjoyed about the plot and the two different perspectives was that they worked together seamlessly. There was a tiny bit of overlap in plot and dialogue but the two characters do spend a large amount of time apart, leading to separate and unique stories. There were an endless number of plot twists, some predictable and some not, and I was so captivated by the story and how everything fitted together that I didn’t want to put the book down. Another thing that kept me invested in the book were the romances, even though I did have some issues with them. I thought there was a lot of insta-love and every boy that appeared in the book seemed to be a potential love interest. Having said that, I thought they were super sweet and I enjoyed the roles that the boys played in the story.

Overall, I thought this was a very interesting read and the ending definitely left me wanting more. The writing was easy to read and I sped through the book. I’m excited to see what the sequel will bring and whether it will be in the same format as Replica.