Title: Replica (Replica #1)
Author: Lauren Oliver
Publication Date: October 4, 2016
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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 learnes terrible truths about herself and her family that will threaten to destroy everything she loves.
Two girls, two stories, one novel.
Replica is a book that requires a little bit of explanation before we even discuss the plot and the book's strengths and weaknesses. Replica tells the story of two girls, Lyra and Gemma. The book is written as two completely separate stories and you can choose how you would like to read them. You can either read Lyra's story and then Gemma's, Gemma's and then Lyra's, or alternate chapters as you go. I chose to start with Lyra and alternate every chapter. I definitely recommend alternating chapters, because it really keeps you in touch with both girls throughout the entire story.
Gemma is a girl from a rich family, but she has been sick for most of her life and has therefore missed out on a lot of experiences. One day, frustrated with her situation, she stumbles upon a connection between her father and Haven, a mysterious research facility in Florida that seems to be shrouded in secrecy. Lyra is a replica. She lives in Haven with hundreds of other replicas and knows very little of the outside world. When Gemma and Lyra's worlds suddenly collide, the foundation of everything they know is shaken and their lives are changed forever.
I was definitely intrigued by Replica as soon as I heard about it, and I was not disappointed. I really enjoyed this story and was kept guessing throughout the whole book. Some of the twists really took me by surprise. I was blown away by some of the things that certain characters were capable of. There were a few plot points that were a little bit too convenient, however. A few things fell into place too easily. I still really enjoyed the book despite these issues, but they kept it from being a five star read for me.
One of my favorite aspects of Replica was the characters. At first I was more interested in Lyra, because her story starts with a lot of excitement and intrigue. As I kept reading, though, I really became invested in Gemma and her story. I think by the end of the book I liked Gemma just a tiny bit more than Lyra, but I still cared about both girls. I also adored the secondary characters, primarily April, Pete, and Luke.
I think Pete might have been my favorite thing about the entire book. I loved him so much. However, as much as I loved Pete and Luke, I don't think the "romance" between them and Gemma was really necessary. I put romance in quotes because it was so small that it barely existed. There was a slight hinting at a love triangle, but it never really developed. The romance aspect of the book was so trivial that it really didn't need to be there at all. This wasn't a book that needed romance; it was a great story on it's own without adding in any kind of love story. I do understand what Lauren Oliver was trying to accomplish by including romance in the story, but I think it should have been either left out completely or developed a lot more to prove her point.
I definitely want to pick up the next book in this series and see how the story develops. I really want to know what happens to Gemma and Lyra and how they deal with the fallout of the events at the end of the book. I am intrigued to learn how many books will be in this series. I think it would be quite apropos to have this series as a duology. The dual storyline is a very cool writing technique, but it might get old after a while if this series continues on and on. Although, regardless, I will probably still check out whatever comes next for Gemma and Lyra.