Replica by Lauren Oliver
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Read By: Sarah Drew and Erin Spencer
Length: 12 hours and 56 minutes
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 learns terrible truths about herself and her family that will threaten to destroy everything she loves.
Two girls, two stories, one novel.
While the stories of Gemma and Lyra mirror each other, each contains revelations critically important to the other story. Their narratives can be read separately or in alternating chapters.
First thing is first – with this book I feel that it is important to point out how you read the book since this doesn’t necessary need to follow the normal “I started at the beginning and I read to the end” process. Since I listened to the audiobook version I read (or listened to) Lyra’s section first, followed by Gemma’s section. I didn’t have the choice to alternate chapters between the two sections. I will say, though, that I am quite curious of how this story would have read if I had alternated the chapters. It’s something I thought about a lot when I was listening to this. How different would the story have been? Anyone out there read this and alternate the chapters? Give me your opinion below!
Now that being said, I was a little worried that I’d be bored by first reading the whole story through Lyra’s eyes and then going back and reading the whole story again through Gemma’s eyes, but that worry was unfounded. There was minimal overlapping where we were hearing the same part of the story a second time in Gemma’s section. There were also many additional details and background given by hearing the story from two different points of view that really helped to bring depth and add to the overall history and story.
First, let’s talk about Lyra. I found Lyra’s section of the book mesmerizing. I thought that Lauren Oliver did a fantastic job of putting us in Lyra’s shoes and describing all that she was experiencing while she was in Haven and as she entered into the “real world”. Even though I live in the “real world” myself (hah – kind of at least), I found myself relating to Lyra as she experienced all of these strange new things for the first time as if I, too, was experiencing them for the first time. Though I was already interested in the overall story, this helped me to become even more invested. Incredibly well done, I adored Lyra’s section!
Now, let’s talk about Gemma. I hate to say it, but mostly Gemma bothered me. After hearing her described through Lyra’s eyes, I was expecting this badass, confident character, and we certainly didn’t get that (at least not always). What I rant about next is a spoiler, so please skip to the next paragraph to avoid if you’d like, otherwise highlight the rest of this paragraph to read my thoughts. What is with Gemma’s extreme body issues? Am I the only one who was bothered by how much this came up? I’m not trying to say that body issues in teenagers isn’t a thing, and that they aren’t something that teenagers think about all of the time, but for the purposes of this book I just felt like how much she dwelled on being fat and overweight was unnecessary. It seemed to come up all the time, out of nowhere, for no real reason. It wasn’t adding any value, and just seemed misplaced. After thinking about it a bit, the purpose of this may have been to foreshadow that she was a Replica, but overall I just didn’t enjoy this.
Overall, this story was pretty enjoyable and I will definitely continue the series. There were a few holy crap moments that I did not anticipate, and that always makes me happy, I like being surprised. I did enjoy hearing the story through Lyra’s point of view more than Gemma’s, but do have to say that as a whole I did feel the entire book was lacking in the plot department. This book, which was pretty long (520 pages – almost 13 hours), felt more like a set up and prequel to the actual story. It was a lot of background information and building up to what I’m assuming will be a very interesting and action filled story in the second book.
Who did you connect more with – Lyra or Gemma?