Title: Replica (Replica #1)
Author: Lauren Oliver
Rating: ★★★★☆ (4.5 Stars)
Release Date: October 4, 2016
“They were born for the first time in their bodies. They were born together. They came together into the world as everyone should – frightened, uncertain, amazed, grateful.
And for them the world was born, too, in all its complexity and strange glory. They had a place in it, at last, and so at least it became theirs to share.”
This book surprised me in the best way. I’ve been getting into scifi more recently and the sequel is coming out next month, so I figured it was the perfect time to read this. But I was not expecting to become so emotionally invested in the characters and their story. Replica is a beautiful story that tackles what it means to be human and the power of choice and agency.
Things I Liked
I LOVED the parallels between Lyra and Gemma’s journeys. Both girls feel trapped and isolated as the story starts, but they start challenging their situations, desiring freedom and escape and taking control of their lives for first time in their life. Both girls really struggle with what’s “real” and defining what it means to be human. We see their identities redefined in front of their eyes as they uncover more secrets. We really see how Lyra and Gemma’s stories reflect and challenge the nature vs nurture dichotomy about what the “human” experience is in a way that was poignant and gripping.
Replicas were really creepy! The language used was so desensitized and cold and made me really uncomfortable, but in a way that made me sympathize with the Replicas. It was so interesting seeing how the replicas spoke and interacted with others, because they have absolutely no socialization beyond other replicas and unsympathetic doctors and nurses. Seeing Lyra and 72, her fellow escapee, interact with a world they know nothing about, and their uncertainty was such a humanizing moment for two characters who are constantly referred to as “it.” I also really liked seeing the different experiences between Lyra and 72.
I really liked the format of the story. It’s basically an alternating POV format, where we see from Gemma and Lyra’s perspectives – but more interactive. You can read Lyra’s chapters first, Gemma’s first, or alternate between the two. I read in a sort of weird alternating style: I read Lyra ch1, Gemma ch 1-2, Lyra ch2-3, Gemma ch3-4, and so on. Like I said, kind of weird, but it worked for me. And I read on an ebook which made reading alternately super easy, because there were links to the respective girl’s chapter and the end of each chapter. Even though there were 2 stories with their own distinct feelings happening simultaneously, it felt cohesive.
I really liked most of the supporting characters we meet. Pete is so happy-go-lucky and optimistic; he really brought some levity to the heavier mystery scenes. 72 has such a resilience and strength that I really connected to. He’s so determined to be more than a pawn of the Haven Institute and you can feel his struggle.
Things I Didn’t Like
Chloe was your typical teen mean girl bully, and the worst part was she was barely even in the story! It was just unnecessary petty drama and didn’t add anything to the story, except an unnecessary eyeroll or two.
I did end up liking all the romances in the story, but there was some insta-infatuation between a few characters that I didn’t really love. It provided some good flirty banter, but was also a little heavy handed at times.
This book really made me think: about lived experiences, socialization, nature vs nurture, and what it means to be human. I loved seeing Lyra and Gemma fight for themselves and each other, even when they were unsure and scared. Replica is definitely a book that will stay with me, and I cannot wait for Ringer to be released next month!
Trigger warning for mentions of self harm