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.
Replica is uniquely styled as two stories in one book. The story is told entirely from each girl’s perspective, with the two printed in reverse to each other. In other words–you can start on one side of the book and read Lyra’s story straight through or start on the other and read Gemma’s story. I chose to begin with Lyra’s story and read alternating chapters. Some readers found the format distracting, but I really didn’t notice after awhile. The book offers a variety of different reading options (starting with one girl, then the other, etc.), but I think alternating chapters is best if, like me, you like as much surprise as possible.
The girls meet up pretty early on in the book, so if you were reading one perspective straight through, it would spoil elements of the other girl’s story. That could still be a good reading experience, but I would not have enjoyed it.
Good combo of YA and sci-fi. I particularly appreciate that Oliver doesn’t pull the punches with darkness and violence. No details, but she set herself up to explore serious elements of humanity and ethics in the sequel, so I’m very hopeful for that.
This is classified as science fiction, but it’s a fiction that could be happening. The compelling reality of Replica is the idea that there could be clones in a secret lab on an island or in the middle of a desert or hidden under our noses and people would react much the way they do in the books. While some science fiction imagines a far-distant reality that might as well be fantasy, Oliver has created a slightly creepier version of our world right now.
I love to see authors playing with their craft and pushing boundaries. Replica explores a new storytelling style and sets the stage for a hard-hitting sequel. I have high hopes for Ringer. Lauren Oliver has consistently deliver high-quality new ideas to the YA world. She doesn’t shy away from hard ideas and clearly doesn’t believe in coddling her teenage audience. I respect that a lot. Here’s to more serious and experimental YA.