A clone conspiracy with plenty of twists and turns, Replica by Lauren Oliver will satisfy YA fans of “Orphan Black” and keep readers on the edge of their seats.
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…
Let’s start with my favorite part of this book: the story itself. I loved seeing the twin stories of Gemma and Lyra unfold — I chose to read the stories alternating chapters — and getting to see the mysteries unfold simultaneously from each perspective made for an enjoyable experience. I also liked seeing how the two story lines interwove and intersected.
Oliver’s writing is always so gorgeous, and that’s certainly this case here — as she builds a #CloneClub-worthy plot line revolving around corporate clone conspiracies with possible government involvement, and a bevy of shadowy figures working to stop their secrets from being known. And at the heart of the story we have Gemma and Lyra, each making monumental new discoveries about themselves and the world they live in — as the mystery slowly unfolds.
Replica largely comes to a satisfying conclusion, with most of the book’s major threads wrapped up, but it certainly leaves plenty of lingering questions. But I believe this is intended to be the first in a series (or at least a duology? Someone help me out here, I just don’t know!) — and if that’s the case, then Oliver has done an excellent job of leaving readers wanting more without torturing them with an agonizing cliffhanger.
Of course, I can’t finish this review without addressing the format of the book itself. Billed as two stories in one book — the novel is printed with Gemma’s story on one side, and then you flip the book over to read Lyra’s. It’s designed so you can read either story first, or — as I did — read the book by alternating chapters. (One from Gemma, one from Lyra, back to Gemma, and so on.) Having finished the book, I think that’s probably the best way to experience — since you get to witness the plot unfolding as one — rather than having the reveals “spoiled” by reading one perspective all the way through.
That said, I think the formatting of this book is pretty gimmicky. I don’t think it added anything to the story itself, and honestly, it was cumbersome flipping the book back and forth between chapters, using two bookmarks to keep my place, etc. I understand authors wanting to push the boundaries of what the novel can be and do for readers, but I don’t think this is it. It was a clunky way to read a book, and didn’t add anything worthwhile to the experience or to the story itself, as far as I’m concerned. (I’m genuinely curious to hear from readers who found something beneficial in this format – so do please chime in if that’s you in the comments below!)
Clunky formatting aside, I still thoroughly enjoyed the story itself and would recommend Replica to any fan of Lauren’s books (especially those who loved her Delirium series). With its characters at its heart, Replica is a fast-paced, science fiction thriller filled with guts and emotionally charged twists. Look for it in stores October 4th.