Lauren Oliver’s new series promises to be rollercoaster ride of conspiracy theories, adventure, romance, friendship and science fiction blended in with the banalities of everyday life. If Replica, as the series-starter, is any indication, Oliver has kept her word. I was kept on the very edge of my seat the entire time I delved into this book: it was beautiful, complex, conspiratorial, heartbreaking and thoroughly entertaining.
Replica is a unique novel. It is actually two books in one and can be read in two ways: you could read each story separately, or you can read alternate chapters of each book simultaneously. I chose to read Replica chapter by chapter, combining both Lyra and Gemma’s stories, resulting in a memorable reading experience. Reading it this way, I was able to pick up subtle clues from each story which connected to the other, which I don’t think is possible if the novel is read one story at time. Every time I picked up a hint or guessed a clue correctly, I almost squealed in joy.
It is always the most highly anticipated novels that disappoint and I was worried this would occur here. I can safely say that did not happen. Replica hooks the reader from the very beginning and you will find yourself racing along with the text, determined to discover the truth. I love conspiracy theories, so perhaps that is why the book really spoke to me.
Lyra and Gemma, two very different but strong women, were delightful protagonists. Their personalities and characters were very distinct. Reading Lyra’s chapters felt very different from reading Gemma’s, and vice versa. The plotlines eventually meet up and some text is the same in the separate stories, but the tones of each story were completely different – half the time I didn’t even notice I was reading the exact same sentences from the previous alternating chapters. Oliver’s decision to write two-stories-in-one was gutsy; in theory, it could work but I have to admit I was concerned that it wouldn’t translate properly on paper. Oliver is certainly a fantastic writer to have successfully pulled this off.
My heart really bled for Lyra and all that had happened to her. Lyra is a clone, a replica, and her life at Haven, the scientific research centre, is a bleak one. The doctors and nurses treat Lyra and the other replicas as less than human – they don’t even have names, just numbers. They’re not allowed to be taught how to read, write, use technology, or have possessions … they just exist. Their whole purpose in life is to be tested upon for unknown reasons. Gemma, on the other hand, is a sixteen-year-old high school human whose strict parents are slowly ruining her life. As a child, Gemma had been sickly and had suffered countless operations which had left scars all across her body. She is ridiculously rich which should make her popular, but she is also overweight (finally an awesome representation) and as such is an outcast and a loser at school, who has only one friend. Gemma begins researching Haven after overhearing her parents discuss the centre when someone threatens her father and attempts to abduct her. Then, the fun really begins.
The plot was amazing and I loved every minute of it. It was perfectly paced and each alternating chapter seamlessly connected to the other. I have read a few other reviews of Replica and I know many people preferred Lyra’s story to Gemma’s, but I was the opposite. Lyra’s story was certainly more action-packed, but I really connected with Gemma on an emotional level. She was so insecure I just wanted to bundle her up and give her a hug. She is incredibly embarrassed of her weight, but slowly her inner strength emerges and she grows into a determined, protective and courageous young woman. I absolutely loved her love interest and cannot wait to watch their relationship develop further.
Lyra was the sweetest and I couldn’t help but smile at everything she did. When she encounters the real world outside of Haven, she knows little more than a three-year-old child: she can’t use a phone, doesn’t know what a bus is and is scared of driving in a car. It’s endearing, but at the same time incredibly sad because of the circumstances behind her lack of knowledge. Despite her ignorance, she becomes quite powerful and is able to navigate this confusing world she has suddenly found herself in. It’s enlightening to read. Like Gemma, I am excited to for Lyra and her love interest in the next book in the series.
Replica was a fantastic novel. I can’t even begin to explain how amazing it is without spoiling anything. I wish I could go back and read it for the first time once more, to experience the excitement and suspense all over again. Even though I received a free copy of the novel, I will most definitely be purchasing when it is released. I can’t wait to see how the book looks like in proper paperback form. Replica is a must-read for any YA fan. Do yourselves a favour and read this astounding novel.