Review: Replica (Replica #1) by Lauren Oliver


Title: Replica
Author: Lauren Oliver
Publisher/Year: Harper Collins 10/4/16
Length:   544 Pages
Series:  Replica #1


Two girls, two stories, one epic novel.

From Lauren Oliver, New York Times bestselling author of Before I Fall and the Delirium trilogy, comes an epic, masterful novel that explores issues of individuality, identity, and humanity. Replica contains two narratives in one: Lyra’s story and Gemma’s story. The stories can be read separately, one after the other, or in alternating chapters. The two distinct parts of this astonishing novel combine to produce an unforgettable journey.

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. Using hotlinks in this electronic edition, readers can decide how they would like to read the book, as with the print version. They can read the story of Gemma or Lyra straight through first, followed by the other girl’s story, or they can move between chapters in Lyra’s and Gemma’s sections. No matter how it is read, Replica is an ambitious, thought-provoking masterwork.

My Thoughts

Well, let’s just say that our author is quite creative and has this ability to write a story that’s quite interesting.  She’s done it again here like she has with Delirium in the past, however this time there are a lot of contemporary references that make it just about realistic enough that we can all believe that it’s present day.  While we’ve become accustomed at this point to read dystopian stories with alternating chapters in various character’s POVs, Ms Oliver has taken things one step further in this one where we have the option to either read the chapters in alternating patterns so that we can see what’s going in at the same point in time for both Lyra and Gemma, or we can read their entire stories as one thread per character.  I chose to alternate them since i felt like there were going to be bits that intertwined as the story got more complex and i think that was the right way to go.

We find ourselves in what could be characterized as present day – there’s nothing that makes you think otherwise so we’ll go with that.  We meet Lyra who’s a replica on Spruce Island, at a place called Haven where replicas are made as a means for some type of research – which we don’t quite know what that is just yet.  Her life has been planned out since she was birthed, doing whatever it is that her crop and herd are supposed to do at Haven just to survive.  We come to know that replicas know what they are – that there’s no secret there, and that sometimes they get sick and things go wrong and they die.  she’s seen that happen time and time again.  It’s when she comes in contact with a few nurses or doctors that treat her like she’s more than just a manufactured product that she starts to wonder what else is possible for her – and that’s a wonder that’s very dangerous.  A male replica tries to escape and the entire island goes on lockdown since Hvaen is a secret that can’t get out.

Then on the other side there’s Gemma – she’s an interesting chick.  She’s your typical teen with overprotective parents, a bit of her own self issues (she’s a bit heavy) and she’s grown up with a lot of illness etc to get through.  Her father interestingly was the founder of a phrama company that was somehow linked to this Haven place that she learns about, and you know what happens next.  When a teen who’s been kept under lock and key finds a whiff of something interesting, things get turned upside down.

So this story, both actually take us on a journey for both girls where they try to uncover the truth about what’s going on while also trying to come into their own and survive.  Thier paths cross early on when Gemma stumbles upon Lyra and another replica that looks exactly like Gemma (just the skin and bones version).  To see how these two girls from very different background figure out how to trust one another and how to work to get not just off the island but to somewhere safe is a great coming of age story.

Throughout this introduction to the series, we’re giving teases and hints of what prompted the creation of Haven and what their original motivation was.  Gemma keeps getting these flashback type memories of her father being with all these powerful influential people when his company was thriving, and then he was in a long drawn out court case right around the time that Haven was created.  So there’s a lot that’s being kept hidden and a lot that no one wants to ever come out – so it’ll be interesting to see not only how much Gemma is able to uncover through the help of Jake and the replicas, but what her parents will share.

On the flip side, we have the bits of what Lyra knows of her existence, and why she was created.  She has paired up with a male replica when leaving the island, and we see how they are slowly becoming ‘human’ in the sense of trying to develop their own memories and emotions and figure out life.  That’s something that i think that all teens go through, so to see how being stunted based on what you have always that you were makes this even sweeter.

Where we are left at the end of this first installment is a place of wonder.  We know that there are a lot of people hunting for these four and they won’t give up until they are found and probably killed since there are intensely important secrets that have to be kept that way.  There was also mention in one of the chapters that Haven isn’t the only camp like it, so i wonder what that will mean for the coming installments since i think they hinted at Texas being another.  Will see see Gemma’s father get involved or has he always been involved?  his traveling all over the place makes you wonder right?  I think that it’ll also be interesting to see how the replicas acclimate to being ‘human’ and how the humans acclimate to being replicas.  Definitely a lot to think about but i can’t wait to see where this story goes.  Have a great rest of the day all!

2 thoughts on “Review: Replica (Replica #1) by Lauren Oliver

  1. Great review! I have pretty much the same thoughts as you, though I have to admit that I didn’t quite like Delirium. I also alternated the chapters while reading and really think that’s the best way to read this book. The ending was too abrupt for me, but I’m also curious to see where the next book takes us. 😊

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