I received this book for free (hey, thanks!) in exchange for an honest review. I promise that this does NOT affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. For real.Replica by Lauren Oliver
Series: Replica #1
on October 4th 2016
Also by this author: Before I Fall, Ringer
(544 pages) • Goodreads • Amazon • Barnes & Noble
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. 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.
I usually break these reviews out into my typical categories below, but I decided to divide my review into the two “books” within one book. You can read this book in multiple ways. You can read Lyra’s story then flip the book around to read Gemma’s, or you could alternate chapters between the two books (as if it were one book with two alternating points of view). I decided to read all of Lyra’s story then all of Gemma’s because it was frankly easier than flipping between the two sides each chapter.
Lyra is the replica who grew up in the Haven Institute. She and 72, a male replica, are able to escape the institute. The setting of Haven was really interesting. The nurses and doctors didn’t treat them like humans at all. They could mostly read and write, but they were expected to just sit there and not respond. I liked getting some of the background story within Haven before the escape. Lyra’s section of the book was really interesting because she was trying to figure out how to navigate the real world, while also learning more about Haven.
Gemma is the regular girl whose father was ~somehow~ involved with Haven. She decides to take a road trip south with Pete, a person from her school, to see what Haven’s deal is. She encounters Lyra and 72 in the process. I liked reading about Gemma’s journey as she figured out how she was connected to everything going on too. Since I read her part second, it was interesting to picture what I thought Lyra was doing at the same time. Her story had more twists than I expected, so it was cool to see it all come together.
I’m happy with how I chose to read this book. It was really interesting as certain events happened and I thought about what happened on the *other* side of the book during that time, and it did make me wonder how it would have been reading the other way. I wish it were easier to do; maybe I’ll reread it someday.
I knew that Gemma and Lyra met up for a portion of the book, but they weren’t always with each other. This was helpful because otherwise it would have been really repetitive to essentially read the same story twice! I liked getting inside both of their heads – in the order I read them – to piece it all together. There wasn’t too much overlap between each point of view. So many big reveals and connections came together at each story’s end! I loved seeing how all of their research would crash together. When I read Lyra’s ending, I was so curious to see where Gemma got her information. It really got me ready to read the other half.
Anyways, this was a REALLY cool story. The only sci-fi books I actually read are set in outer space or involve time travel of some kind. So, this was different for me! I’m really glad I read it. I think I’m the elusive positive-black-sheep because I enjoyed this a lot more than my peers!
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