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Book Reviews

Review: “Replica,” Lauren Oliver

December 21, 2016

I received this book for free from Hachette Australia in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: “Replica,” Lauren OliverReplica (Replica #1)
Written by Lauren Oliver
Published October, 2016 by Hodder & Stoughton
544 pages
Provided by: Hachette Australia
Genres: Sci-Fi
Purchase: The Book DepositoryBookworldBooktopia
Add to Goodreads
five-stars

Gemma has been in and out of hospitals since she was born. 'A sickly child', her lonely life to date has revolved around her home, school and one best friend, Alice. But when she discovers her father's connection to the top secret Haven research facility, currently hitting the headlines and under siege by religious fanatics, Gemma decides to leave the sanctuary she's always known to find the institute and determine what is going on there and why her father's name seems inextricably linked to it.

Amidst the frenzy outside the institute's walls, Lyra - or number 24 as she is known as at Haven - and a fellow experimental subject known only as 72, manage to escape. Encountering a world they never knew existed outside the walls of their secluded upbringing , they meet Gemma and, as they try to understand Haven's purpose together, they uncover some earth-shattering secrets that will change the lives of both girls forever...

Replica is a fantastic start for the new series by YA favourite, Lauren Oliver. While it may sound a bit like a dystopian, it’s really a fast-paced sci-fi that will appeal to the most begrudging of science fiction readers. Forget what you loathe about those corporate espionage YA novels (the stuff that’s been done to death, really) and be prepared for something with neat twists, refreshing characters and addictive writing!

“Lyra and Caelum: the two replicas with names plucked straight from the stars.”


I read Replica before I went over to the UK on holiday back in September. Yes, it’s taken me a while to review it (which never happens) so I apologise for that. What I really want to get across, though, is how much I really loved this book! Lauren Oliver is one of those authors I really adore, yet most of her books seem to be on my TBR pile still. After reading Replica, my need to read ALL OF THE OLIVER BOOKS was renewed.

Replica was certainly in a league of its own. I mean, how awesome is it that the book is split into two parts – parts that you flip to read the OTHER side of the story? I haven’t seen something like this for YA readers before. It’s sort of reminiscent of my Scholastic book club days in primary school. Initially I thought it would be a bit too ‘gimmicky’ for my tastes, but honestly it really worked for me.

I don’t have a favourite point of view. Both Lyra and Gemma’s tales were equally as readable for me and I loved seeing where the two stories met in the middle. What could have been repetitive (the scenes where both girls were included) were instead eye-opening, showing us firsthand at how differently certain actions or feelings can be interpreted. I know a lot of readers have mixed feelings about this aspect of the book, but I honestly had no complaints. I think it’s one of those things you’re just going to have to try for yourself – you may be surprised!

“When she was little, she’d liked to pretend that stars were really lights anchoring distant islands, as if she wasn’t looking up but only out across a dark sea. She knew the truth now but still found stars comforting, especially in their sameness. A sky full of burning replicas.”

I haven’t read that many books about clones. I’m a huge Orphan Black fan, however, and I have to say that in Replica the premise is treated rather differently. The clones in this novel are mass-produced and cattle-like, with no names and no encouragement to be nurtured. Held prisoner in the Haven Institute, life is pretty bleak. I was expecting it to be a dystopian sort of like Never Let Me Go, but in truth the outside world does not know about the Haven institute or its purpose.

Replica was as much a mystery as it was a science fiction novel. The mystery – the Haven institute, the truth about Gemma’s father – had me turning pages rapidly, eager for answers. Though the book is over 500 pages long, I had no trouble getting through it. There was also a sense of danger in Replica, which I appreciated. Stakes were upped, and there were often no last minute reprieves for certain characters. Death was death and things got serious. Fast.

If I had to pick a weak point in the novel, it would be the romances. The love interests for Gemma and Lyra were forgettable, and not necessary for the plot to progress. Yes, ‘Pervy’ had a role, but I didn’t feel as if his relationship with Gemma needed to go beyond friendship. As for Lyra’s fellow clone, Caelum, I found myself disliking him for the majority of the book.

So, my opinion? Replica is a fantastic new start to a new series by Lauren Oliver. I enjoyed this one more than I expected to! If you’re torn on whether or not to read this one due to the mixed reviews, give it a shot. The book is (kind of?) cut into two parts, so forget the hefty page count!

About Lauren Oliver

Lauren Oliver comes from a family of writers and so has always (mistakenly) believed that spending hours in front of the computer every day, mulling over the difference between “chortling” and “chuckling,” is normal. She has always been an avid reader. She attended the University of Chicago, where she continued to be as impractical as possible by majoring in philosophy and literature. After college, she attended the MFA program at NYU and worked briefly as the world’s worst editorial assistant, and only marginally better assistant editor, at a major publishing house in New York.

1 Comment

  • Reply Zoe @ Stories on Stage December 22, 2016 at 12:41 pm

    I completely agree! It was so cool to see the perspectives of both of the characters – it really made the reading experience more unique and intriguing. Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! <3

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