Amazon Vine offered me the chance to review the book Replica by Lauren Oliver a few weeks ago. I wasn’t sure if I’d like it, but my thirteen year old daughter, Tallulah, is a big fan of Oliver’s books and insisted that I give it a go, mainly so that she can read it after me. I complied.
It is easier in the long run.
Replica, I thought, would not be a book I enjoyed. It’s a dystopian fantasy book set in America’s future. It deals with the idea of cloning, genetic experimentation and what exactly makes a human being human. It all sounded a bit sterile to me.
In actual fact, Replica far exceeded my expectations and I ended up finishing it over two days.
It’s a book with a quirk, something I’m also generally not keen on. The book is split into two halves. You can read whichever half you like first, as each is roughly the same story told by two separate protagonists, Lyra and Gemma. One half is supposed to be the ‘human’ point of view, the other that of the ‘clone’, but it becomes apparent as you read on that there are a few surprises in store, both for the characters and the reader.
Oliver takes a subject that could be quite dry and clinical and injects it with a real sense of approachability and humanity. The characters are appealing and complex. I liked the fact that neither girl was perfect, each had flaws and vulnerabilities, that at times made them a bit unlikeable, but at the same time, more understandable. Gradually, as the narratives progress you start to build a really well developed, deep understanding of both the young women protagonists, and actually come to care for them and root for them to succeed.
Although the story is complete, there are hints that it may not be entirely finished, and I found myself wishing that Oliver would write more, and quickly.
The books are clearly aimed at the teenage girl market, but I think that there are some parts of the books that, if marketed correctly, would sell them to boys too, particularly if they are interested in this genre. The book is tautly plotted, well thought out and really exciting to read.