Author: Lauren Oliver
Series: Replica, #1
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Release Date: October 6th 2016
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.
– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
My Thoughts On…
Lyra, 24, has spent her whole life in Haven and as a replica her life is ruled by the scientists there; they decide when she eats, when she sleeps, and when she dies. The replicas are never long lived and Lyra’s time is running out. She’s started to feel ill and there’s only so much longer she can hide it from the cameras, the nurses, and the tests.
But when Lyra tries to find a new place to hide her secrets she runs in 72, an escaped replica, and all of the sudden Haven seems to explode. As the bombs go off Lyra is left with no choice but to run with an escaped replica to escape the carnage that has become her life and her home.
On the outside Lyra and 72 find their way off the island into the outside world. They’re both forced into a situation they have no idea how to handle and together they have to try and work out why they have been created and what was really happening in Haven.
Gemma’s life is the opposite to Lyra’s. She spend most of her childhood in and out of hospitals with every illness imaginable and as such she is isolated from her school friends and her parents are strangely over protective of her. However she is soon going to have one week away from them to spend in Florida with her best friend, until someone throws a Frankenstein mask through her living room window.
Thinking it’s just some of the mean girls from her school Gemma pays no mind to it, but her parents know different. After overhearing them talk about Haven Gemma is suddenly forbidden from going to Florida and stuck at home for Spring break. However there are things happening in her town, and things that have happened to Gemma, which all seem to be connected to Haven.
Finding a ride down to Florida is no problem, but Gemma soon finds herself out of her depth when she stumbles across not only a replica wearing her face but two more who need more help than she can give; and who also put her life in danger.
Lyra has not had a normal life so she sees no issues with the way she has been raised in Haven. All of the replicas believe they are monsters, less than nothing, and it stops them from wanting too much. But Lyra does want more, she dreams of a family but until then she’ll settle for more words to read. Lyra isn’t prepared for life outside of Haven, and not prepared to deal with all the questions 72, Gemma, and Jake ask. However when it comes down to it Lyra wants to find out more about what is happening to her; she is dying and she believes that the nurses who left Haven could hold the answers.
Gemma has never really felt like she belonged anywhere. Set apart from her school friends because of the scars and set apart from her parents for reasons she can’t understand. However when she hears about Haven her curiosity gets the better of her. Gemma knows that for some reason her life, and her father’s, is connected to that island and she needs to get answers before she’s accosted in the street by any more strangers. Gemma seems very protective over the replicas, she connects with them in a way she hasn’t been able to with anyone else.
While the main story was all about Gemma and Lyra there were a few secondary characters along for the ride. However they just weren’t as well developed as Gemma and Lyra were. The relationships between Gemma and Pete, and Lyra and 72 all seemed a little rushed and I do think the story would have been just the same without them, or if the development had been allowed to happen over multiple books rather than just this one.
I enjoyed reading about Lyra’s relationships with the different nurses who came into her life, leaving an impression on her, only to leave again with no warning and no closure. Even Gemma’s relationship with her parents was well-written. There is a distance between them, coming from her father always being in another country, but at the same time they do love their daughter and you can see that in their actions later in the story.
I love the premise of this story; switching from Lyra a clone growing up on Haven, a replica with no rights and who doesn’t even believe she is human, to Gemma an ordinary girl who has spent most of her childhood in hospitals, but who finds herself in a dangerous situation when she tries to discover more about Haven. It was an interesting story don’t get me wrong, and I love reading about Lyra’s life at Haven and everything she went through there, however some of the science behind it all confused me a little bit. This could be because my education of the sciences finished with high school but I found some of the more technical explanations, such as the real reason behind why the clones were created and what was being done to them in Haven, went completely over my head. I’d like to learn more about them in the next book, maybe more information will help me understand what I’m reading a little more.
One of the things that attracted me to this book in the first place was the format. You can either read Lyra’s story first then Gemma’s, or Gemma’s then Lyra’s, or alternate between the two. While I still enjoyed Replica I’d like to pick it up again one day and alternate between Lyra’s and Gemma’s story, seeing if it changes the experience for me seeing the way their two stories connect.
What did you think of Replica? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.