Book Rewind Review: Replica by Lauren Oliver
I am a huge fan of the storytelling in different styles. I can buy into nearly anything that adds a little extra to a book. Replica checks that box by being two novels in one, a book you can read in two different ways. Gemma and Lyra, two interconnected lives with individual stories to tell. Ringer is on my Beat the Backlist this year so I wanted to relive the magic of Replica!
Replica (Replica, #1)by Lauren Oliver
Published by: HarperCollins
on October 4, 2016
Genres: Sci-Fi, Young Adult
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 learns terrible truths about herself and her family that will threaten to destroy everything she loves.
Two girls, two stories, one novel.
While the stories of Gemma and Lyra mirror each other, each contains revelations critically important to the other story. Their narratives can be read separately or in alternating chapters.
So how did I read this two-sided story?
I debated first, do I read the stories side by side or back to back? I get too distracted going back and forth (looking at you, Nevernight, with all your footnotes!) so back to back way to the way for me to go. But do I read Gemma or Lyra first? I let luck decide, as the e-book was formatted with Lyra’s story first. Having read the whole book, I am now glad that is the route I went.
Of the two stories, Lyra’s story drew me in something fierce. Why is she locked in this secret facility and what’s up with all this testing? I’ve read enough sci-fi to know nothing good is going on here. The way Lauren Oliver unfolded the story had me hooked and I devoured this part of the story.
About halfway through, Lyra’s story ends on a cliffhanger and we begin Gemma’s story. I was drawn to Gemma, though she does have an unknown past. Though the stories parallel and eventually intersect, they don’t feel as interconnected as I thought they would – something I hope we see more of in book two.
Together, this is the story of being yourself in a world where replicas – clones – exist. It’s nature versus nurture. Lyra is stripped of her humanity and originally given only a number for a name; she’s developed her identity as an “it” rather than a person. Gemma, who has a past she is yet unaware of, wants to break out and do her own thing. Both of them need to discover their origin and what it means to be human.
Overall, the most compelling characters are Lyra and the scientists/doctors.I felt the male protagonists took away from the story that centered around Lyra and Gemma. I do plan to pick up the sequel, which I hope will be more of Lyra and Gemma together.