Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
From a distance, the Haven Institute, tucked away on a private island off the coast of Florida, looks serene and even beautiful. But up close the locked doors, military guards, and biohazard suits tell a different story. In truth, it is a clandestine research facility where thousands of replicas, or human models, are born, raised, and observed.
But 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. As they make their way through a new and menacing environment, they meet a stranger named Gemma, who has embarked on a perilous quest of her own. And as Lyra tries to understand Haven’s purpose, she uncovers earth-shattering secrets that will change the lives of both girls.
Gemma has been in and out of hospitals her whole life. A sickly child, she has grown into a lonely adolescent whose 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 human models, or replicas, 24 and 72—and a completely new set of questions. As Gemma tries to unravel the mysteries of Haven, she learnes terrible truths about herself and her family that will threaten to destroy everything she loves.
Two girls, two stories, one novel.” (Summary found on Goodreads).
It took me more than a year to read this novel. I’m not actually sure why it took that long. Especially considering I loved this book. Sure, it had its faults, and by technicalities probably deserves a four star rating, but I also flew through it, loved the plot, and found nearly everything about it fantastic. It’s getting a five star rating because I’m weak and this book was too emotionally captivating for me to rate it otherwise.
The character development here is fantastic, though incomplete right now. I’m wholly expecting Lyra and Gemma to grow more, especially with the weight of what they know now bearing heavily on their shoulders. I preferred Gemma’s personality, but found Lyra’s struggle with being human versus being a replica more interesting. I’ve always been fascinated with the concept of humanity. What really makes someone human? Is it their ability to feel? Is it their ability to bleed? In that sense, would a clone be just as human as someone born?
Gemma’s character didn’t have to struggle with being human (though, with the events toward the end, we might see some change in Ringer), but she did struggle with her confidence. I can’t say much for whether the body type representation is good. Gemma talks a lot about her weight; her defining characteristic is being “fat” in her head. While some people might find this tedious and annoying, I found it realistic. She’s a teenager, and being one myself, I resonate with someone who lets her insecurities define her rather than her good qualities. She becomes a much stronger and independent character throughout the novel, and I can’t wait to see that furthered as the series goes on.
I especially loved the exploration of cloning, which I haven’t seen done in a YA book yet, so it proved to be a unique plot. I loved the fast pace, which kept me interested. This book didn’t spend much time in my backpack at school, and instead, I carried it in my arms so I could keep reading whenever I had spare time.
I also loved the split perspective, with half the book in Lyra’s perspective and the other half in Gemma’s. The scenes didn’t overlay too much either (only for a little part in the middle), which made it even better. I wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much if the scenes were the same in both parts, just narrated by different characters. Instead, Lyra and Gemma take different paths in the story, the plot joining and then separating, only for them to find each other again.
One of my main qualms here is the romance, which bordered insta-love in Lyra’s part. Though, Gemma’s romantic storyline was much better, and I felt myself very engaged in their relationship. I would much love to have a Pete. Even if his nickname is “Pervy Pete”. As well, there were some inconsistencies in the beginning that I think could have been brushed up in another round of edits. I was a little confused when Lyra said she had never seen a boy and then casually mentioned seeing them later.
I also found Replica to be a tad predictable. I saw most of the plot-twists coming (except for one). This took away the element of surprise. I would have much preferred to not see the plot twists coming, but hopefully Ringer will have some surprises in it. Speaking of which, I am very glad Ringer is published, and I’m not waiting ten years for it to come out.
Anyway, I definitely recommend Replica. Lauren Oliver is becoming one of my favorite authors, especially considering I’ve read most of her books and the only one I dislike is Vanishing Girls.