Rating: ★★✩✩✩ (2/5)
[So I actually wrote this review back in November, but for some reason, I lost it in my drafts and forgot to publish it]
Replica follows the lives of two seemingly different girls – Lyra, a test subject locked away in a research facility, and Gemma, a lonely teen whose investigation in her family’s past leads to her meeting Lyra and slowly unravelling the truth behind her family.
I tried, really tried, to read and enjoy this. I truly did. Its plot and concept from the outside scream a perfect read for me. Especially with the creative layout, the book can be read from one POV or alternative. I set myself up to read an excellent book, but it just didn’t grab my attention.
You get the impression of an exciting sci-fi novel, but it’s just a very cheesy YA romance with a sci-fi tint. It starts off interesting (I read the chapters alternatively), watching the lives of these two girls and how they differ but you can guess what happens. Nothing is surprising because it’s been done so many times and Oliver doesn’t add anything that makes it stand out, aside from reading format.
Gemma, a shy girl, who hasn’t done anything radical in her life, goes on an adventure without a plan but everything falls into place for her anyway. Lucky for her but predictable and boring for a reader. Lyra, a now-runaway, had a more exciting start but the idea of wanting to take revenge against the people who harmed her slips her mind way too quickly, maybe it was for plot’s sake, but it felt tedious.
I can tell you the alternate chapters left little impact for me. Even if you read from Lyra’s POV only, you’re just outright told what happens in Gemma’s chapters soon after. Reading it alternatively just meant learning the same thing twice, just slightly tweaked, and it loses its suspense. To be honest, making it a flip book has the same effect of having only alternating chapters. While the concept, initially, was cool but it just makes it awkward to read.
I usually give a book the benefit of the doubt when its labelled as something like “ambitious [and] thought-provoking”. Most of the time, if I can’t see it, I’d probably think ‘Huh, maybe this book isn’t for me, then.’ But nothing in this book felt ambitious nor thought-provoking. I can see the discussion she’s trying to have around ethics and the identity of being ‘human’ but after the two meet up, the story seriously drags, and it feels like a journey waiting for anything with substance to happen.
Based on my experience, I don’t intend to continue the series which is a shame, considering the hype and promise of a complex epic sci-fi novel. But, overall, it has a great concept that grabs a reader’s attention, but I think it would’ve worked better as one story, preferably from Gemma’s view, as her view was the strongest regarding the plot.
tw: staged suicide, violence (suicide bomber and the aftermath of a bombing), attempted abduction. (if you’ve read the book and feel like I’ve missed something out, please tell me!)