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I Belong

Review: Replica by Lauren Oliver

replicaTitle: Replica

Author: Lauren Oliver

Genre: YA Science Fiction

Series: Replica (Book #1)

Publication Date: October 4, 2016

Format: Hardcover, 544 Pages

ISBN-10: 0062394169 (HarperTeen)

ISBN-13: 978-0062394163 (HarperTeen)

Reviewed by: Zed


Two girls, two stories, one epic novel

From Lauren Oliver, New York Times bestselling author of Before I Fall and the Delirium trilogy, comes an epic, masterful novel that explores issues of individuality, identity, and humanity. Replica is a “flip book” that contains two narratives in one, and it is the first in a duology. Turn the book one way and read Lyra’s story; turn the book over and upside down and read Gemma’s story. The stories can be read separately, one after the other, or in alternating chapters. The two distinct parts of this astonishing novel combine to produce an unforgettable journey. Even the innovative book jacket mirrors and extends the reading experience.

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, or 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 research facility. Hungry for answers, she travels to Florida, only to stumble upon two replicas and a completely new set of questions.

While the stories of Lyra and Gemma mirror each other, each contains breathtaking revelations critically important to the other story. Replica is an ambitious, thought-provoking masterwork.

Quick & Dirty: Two girls caught up in a world of clones and human experimentation.

Opening Sentence: From a distance, the Haven Institute, tucked away on a private island off the coast of Florida, looks serene and even beautiful. (Lyra)

Escape: that was what Gemma dreamed of, especially on nights like this one, when the moon was so big and bright it looked like it was a set piece in a movie, hooked outside her window on a curtain of dark night sky. (Gemma)

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

I haven’t read a decent book about clones since…. well, it’s clearly been far too long if I can’t even remember a book on clones! I can only think of Lunar Chronicles as bearing a tad bit of resemblance to Replica, but TLC is about a cyborg /fairytale retelling so a completely different ball game!

Having read Lauren Oliver’s Delirium series, I’m familiar with her work but I must admit that Replica was much, much better. There are a few different ways to read the book: either start with Gemma’s story and then Lyra’s or alternate the chapters so it’s one chapter from each girl’s perspective because the stories end up merging together. I was a little apprehensive about this because do I really want to read about the same scene twice but just from alternating points of view? Won’t that just double the time it takes to finish the story for no reason?

Lyra turned and saw 72, his cheek still crisscrossed with lines from the pillow. He was looking not at Jake or Gemma but directly at Lyra, and she couldn’t read his expression. She had spent her whole life listening to doctors talk about the workings of the lungs and liver, the blood-brain barrier, and white blood cell counts, but she had never heard a single one explain how faces worked, what they meant, how to read them.

However, I’m glad to say that the slightly odd format worked for me because the two stories fit well together and although there is some overlap in terms of the events taking place, seeing it from the other girls POV sheds a different light onto what’s happening. Plus, there are bits that one girl will pick up on, whilst the other overlooks and vice versa, which was a brilliant way to differentiate Lyra and Gemma.

I began with Lyra’s story and although it’s fascinating to read from the mind of a clone, it began to bore me a little, especially since Lyra lacks emotion, or rather the ability to express it. Of course it’s hard on her with the knowledge that she was created in basically a lab of sorts.

But maybe that was why they had left Haven; they did not fit in. She still didn’t understand what made people so different from replicas, had never been able to understand it. And she had wanted things too, in her life. She had wanted to learn to read. She had been hungry, cold, and tired, and wanted food and her bed. But it was true she had never hurt anyone to get what she wanted.
Was that what made her less than human?

On the other hand, Gemma’s story was far more fascinating. As well as exploring illegal cloning and human experimentation, the story looks at more familiar issues like body image and bullying. Plus, the introduction of Pete gave it the entertainment factor. Pete’s bizarre sense of humour added the much needed comedy to this book.

Besides, she couldn’t believe someone who looked like Jake Witz could be dangerous. She’d been fed a steady diet of Disney growing up. The evil ones were always ugly. By the same logic, she knew that she was destined to be the charming dumpy sidekick for life: only skinny girls got to be leads.

There are lots of plot surprises and huge twists so overall, I found Replica to be an interesting read told in an unusual way.

Notable Scene:

“I hired you,” God said, “to do your job, not to play at Mother goddamn Teresa.” He raised his hand, and Lyra thought he might hit her. Then she saw that he was holding the old, weathered copy of The Little Prince Dr. O’Donnell had been reading.

“Don’t you see?” Dr. O’Donnell’s face was flushed. Her freckles had disappeared. “What we’re doing…Christ. They deserve a little happiness, don’t they? Besides, you said yourself they do better when they get some affection.”

“Stimulation and touch. Not weekly story time.” God slammed the book down on a table, and Lyra jumped. Then he sighed. “We’re not humanitarians. We’re scientists. And they’re subjects. End of story.”

Replica Series:

1. Replica

2. Helix (TBA 2017)


FTC Advisory: HarperTeen provided me with a copy of Replica. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.


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One Response to “Review: Replica by Lauren Oliver

  1. Penny OlsonNo Gravatar

    I was hesitant about the strange format but I’m glad to know it works for the book.

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