Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Replica is a unique book by Lauren Oliver in that it is two books in one. It’s really all one story, but the reader gets the perspective story of Gemma and Lyra. There are a few different ways to read this book, and there’s really no wrong way to read it (see chart below).
How I read the book was Lyra first, just because her story is on the front cover of my edition, then Gemma, whose story is on the back. You can also read Gemma and then Lyra, or if you want, the book is uniquely set up that you can go back and forth between characters after each chapter, so Gemma Chapter One, then Lyra Chapter One, then Gemma Chapter Two, and so on, for an interesting blend of the two stories. Any way works. While I did Lyra and then Gemma, I find for the second book, Ringer, I will try out the alternating chapters for the experience of constantly flipping the book back and forth.
I’ll start with a brief summary of Lyra’s story, since I read hers first. She is a girl in a facility who doesn’t know much about the world. She only knows what the doctors tell her, and they want it that way. She is a replica, basically a word they use for clones. There are different generations of clones, some constantly sick and not what the facility aims for, and others pristine specimens. Some people do not approve of what this secret facility is doing with genetics, not to mention stealing other people’s babies.
When the facility is under attack, Lyra is outside speaking with a male replica, planning an escape. After an explosion, Lyra and the boy–72–look for survivors. There are gunshots and men who don’t belong, bringing Lyra to hide until another girl and her friend find them, and Lyra notices that the girl looks like a replica, but she has hair and her own clothes.
Gemma thinks she is an alien. She doesn’t really fit in with the other kids at school. When a threatening message comes for her, she flees. She runs into a strange man she doesn’t know, yet he seems to recognize her. Strange things are going on with her family, and she aims to get to the bottom of it, her first step heading to the Haven institute, a secret lab in Florida.
What Gemma ultimately finds astounds her. A boy and girl who seem to know nothing of the world, the girl–Lyra–holding the file of someone from the destroyed lab. Now on a quest to find out who they both are, Gemma seeks the truth and Lyra aims to find out what it’s like to be human, all while avoiding those who do not want such secrets to be revealed.
This book is, once again, unique in its craft of two stories in one, being able to alternate, and the quest for identity is exciting and fast paced. There is thrill to the novel in that the two girls know certain things that those working for Haven do not want to be revealed, and death is just around the corner. The end feels slightly abrupt, definitely open-ended, and rightly so, given that the second novel came out in October 2017.
I highly recommend this read to female teens especially, considering the two perspective characters are female teens trying to find their place in the world. I would also recommend it to those interested in genetics and clone studies because there are some political aspects that relate to this idea of genetic engineering that we see developing in the world today, showing how this novel touches upon contemporary issues.