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.
When I heard that Lauren Oliver was releasing another book I may have squealed a little bit. I’m a big fan of most her books, some which I love more than others, but ultimately she’s now an auto-buy author for me. What I love most about her novels is the intriguing, intricate tales she weaves and the way her characters seem to leap off the page. But my relationship with this book, Replica, was a little different. As two books in one, told from different points of view when you flip the book over, it’s a little difficult to know where to start. The first time I read this book, I decided that I was going to read from one point of view at a time, completely finishing the narrative before reading the other side of this thick book. However, I got to the end of Lyra’s story and felt no real interest to read the Gemma side. I was entertained enough by Lyra’s narrative, but I didn’t feel the need to read it all over again from someone else’s point of view.
But that’s when I started hearing how everyone else was reading it, particularly one of my friends. She was reading one chapter at a time from both sides, like Lyra, Gemma, Lyra, Gemma, and so on, and she seemed to be loving it more than I did when I just read Lyra’s side. So I decided to try reading it like that — it was so much better. I honestly think that the author should have made it clear that reading her two-books-in-one this way was more enjoyable, as I would have saved myself the pain of thinking this book would only be a two-star read. While I understand that she liked the idea of readers being able to choose the way in which to read Replica and it definitely made sense in terms of the actual narrative, but I’ve been recommending to everyone starting Replica to read it with alternating chapters.
On the whole, I found that I liked Lyra’s and Gemma’s stories to the same extent and while they weren’t my favourite characters in all the books I’ve read, their lives were intriguing and I was interested in knowing what was going to happen. Though I quickly found that, upon reading this book for the second time, the real way, I found myself a lot more engaged and invested in the novel. What’s best about these different points of view is that we’re given a direct insight into the different ways these two minds work as well as their similarities, and I felt like that was really effectively done. Without spoiling too much, this novel is about a clone and a human, both connected to a disturbing human cloning institute, and in that way it was an incredibly smart move by Oliver to think of including the two narratives from both points of view. For that, I commend her.
I was lucky enough to reread this book for the second time around Halloween, which was perfect. I completely loved the setting for Replica. Part of the story takes place at this cloning institute, and if that isn’t haunting enough, it’s located on an island and is surrounded by armed guards. The depth of detail at which the institute and the surrounds were written in transported me to this world of mayhem and destruction, allowing me to feel as though I was right beside the characters themselves. The Haven Institute itself is also very creepy not just in the way it looks, but because there was so much suspense surrounding the uncovering of this place’s true motives and what they really wanted. That thrilling, gripping aspect would have to be one of the things that made Replica such a captivating read — second time around, that is. But even though I knew from the first read of this book how everything was going to play out, somehow reading it from a different point of view as well made it so much more intense and made me question whether, impossibly, the ending would turn out differently.
Ultimately, Replica is the kind of book you just have to pick up to fully understand what it’s about. For anyone interested in sci-fi novels with fantastic world-building and a splash of romance, I highly recommend picking up Lauren Oliver’s new book. Just remember — READ ALTERNATING CHAPTERS. You’re welcome.
Have you read Replica? How did you read it, or how are you planning on reading it? Have you read any other books about clones? Do you like this genre? Have you read any other books by Lauren Oliver? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Thanks to Hachette Australia for providing me with this book in exchange for an honest review!