Book Review # 82: Replica by Lauren Oliver

Friday, 4 November 2016
Please note that before you read this review that I am reviewing this publication for Hodder and Stoughton. I received an advanced readers copy of this title in exchange for an honest review. In no way is my opinion influenced by the fact that I received this free of charge. Now on with the review!

Title: Replica
Author: Lauren Oliver
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton
Format: ARC
Publication DateOctober 4th 2016
Source: Review Copy from Publisher

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.

While the stories of Lyra and Gemma mirror each other, each contains breathtaking revelations critically important to the other story. Replica is an ambitious, thought-provoking masterwork.
One story told from two points of view. Not an uncommon occurrence amongst the Young Adult community. However, a book containing two stories from different points of view, cleverly interwoven into a much larger picture? It's rare, and Replica by Lauren Oliver takes on this unique twist on storytelling that has forced Replica to the top of my favourites by Lauren Oliver. If you've read my reviews in the past you will find that I have a mixed relationship with Oliver's books. They've always intrigued me and yet upon completion, they've left me disappointed. Oliver's newest novel, Replica, did the complete opposite for me. Frankly, I adored it. Interweaving two tales allows Oliver to focus on the complexity of her characters. As for the general reading experience, Lauren Oliver builds up her plot to allow for dramatics to occur within the last few chapters, and it is clear how Oliver sets up her readers for a thrilling ride in the conclusion to this first book. At a 560 page novel, most readers might be put off by the sheer size, but upon delving into this novel, the pace of the novel was relatively fast, allowing the novel to progress at a positively normal rate. As a result, the novel didn't feel overly long, nor too short, which I appreciated greatly.

What initially grasped my attention for Replica was not only the intruiging way of telling the story, but the actual plot.  A research facility where thousands of human replicas are born, raised, and observed. Tell me that doesn't sound fascinating! The beauty of Replica invites the reader to indulge this novel in two different ways; read Lyra and Gemma's perspectives individually or read a chapter of each and alternate perspectives as you go through. Whilst the prospect of flipping the book over after every chapter seemed inviting at first, I decided that as Oliver's books have let me down in the past over poor character development, I'd focus individually on the different stories. There is a lot of controversy doing it this way about who's perspective you should begin with. Some argue Gemma's sets the story up better whilst others argue Lyra's is more action focused to begin with and you gain a larger picture of the institute earlier on. I, in the end, decided to begin with Lyra's tale and I'm glad I did, as I agree with the notion that it sets up the Haven Institute more and I found it actually grasped my attention more because the whole idea of the Replica's was what attracted me to this novel in the first place.

Upon completion of this novel, I wasn't made aware of the fact that it had a sequel, so I was left in anticipation of what would happen next, hoping that Oliver wasn't going to leave her book on a disappointing notion. That being said, the events that occurred at the conclusion to this novel screamed sequel book, but I didn't want to get my hopes up. It wasn't until later on when coming to write this review that a sequel was actually announced. Based on this knowledge, Oliver has definitely set her readers up to enquire what will happen in the following instalment, and I have to admit that I am excited to pick it up and see where the adventure will take me! I've fallen for these characters, especially Lyra. It was definitely interesting reading from her point of view; so naive about the world and accepting everything as new. It was actually quite refreshing, like growing up for a second time over the period of 500 pages or so.

So where would I rate Replica? Well, with it's unique storytelling experience and fascinating plot, Replica and it's following sequel/s have captured my attention and I am looking forward to seeing where this story goes. Replica is also one of those novels that I could instantly see being brought visually to the public's attention, either through movie or television format. Due to the rareness of this occurrence for me, I am awarding Replica by Lauren Oliver a 4 out of 5 stars on my classification scale. Two truly wonderful tales, interwoven together with curiosity and the novelty of fresh life. I would easily recommend to others if you're looking for that contemporary and science fiction mix.

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