I received this book for free from Publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Replica (Replica, #1) by Lauren Oliver
Published by HarperCollins on October 4th 2016
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Two girls, two stories, one epic novel
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.
Lauren Oliver is one of my favorite authors. She is unique in that I don’t always love her books but love the ideas behind them and her writing in itself is always amazing. Replica fell into the loved the idea but didn’t love the execution category.
We have the stories of Gemma and Lyra told in two separate “books” within the book. You can either read the each on their own or alternating chapters. Lyra’s story starts at the Haven Institute on an island in Florida. This is a research institute with replicas – or human clones – that no one but the workers on the facility no about and they are not allowed to leave. Until Lyra and another escape. Gemma has spent her life in and out of hospitals and being sheltered by her parents. When she has a run in with a stranger who tries to abduct her and claims to know her she starts to investigate more on her and her families history. This leads her to the Haven Institute which causes Gemma and Lyra’s stories to come together.
I chose to read the book in alternating chapters. I liked how you got to see more insights on the same time period from each side this way. I do think it was a little repetitive at times, though. Also, the beginning felt a little slow. I know a lot of it was set up and you needed to understand both girls and their backgrounds to get the full feel for the rest of the story but I wished it moved on at a better pace.
Again, I really liked the concept and format of the book. I loved her Delirium series and thought this was going to be back on the order of that. Still, something in the execution – whether it be the pacing or the characters – didn’t fully work for me. When there was more action and both stories came together, I did enjoy it, though.
Speaking of characters, I had a harder time connecting with both Gemma and Lyra. Gemma constantly went on about her weight to the point it was off-putting for me. I did like her friendship with her best friend April. Lyra was more interesting in her story as being a replica but I still had a hard time being connected. I did, however, love Gemma’s friend Pete who brought a much-needed sense of comic relief to the story.
Overall I did enjoy it enough that I will read the next book. I do kind of wish it was a stand alone because I didn’t realize this would be a series at first. While I think it was a little long, I thought the unique format and storyline was enough to keep me interested. If you are a fan of Lauren Oliver it is worth checking out.