Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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Having only read Lauren Oliver’s contemporary novels up until now (I have yet to read the Delirium series) I was really intrigued to see how her style would work in a dystopian novel. Dystopia is a genre that is extremely popular at the moment and I think it would have been easy for Replica to blend in but its unique format and intriguing plot line help it to stand out in a busy crowd.
First, the format: you can read this book in three different ways. Some might say this is a bit of a gimmick, and I guess it is in a way as it does its job of making the book memorable and gets people talking, but I liked it. It's something different and I found it quite fun to read a book in a different way from normal. You can choose to either 1) read Gemma’s story first, 2) read Lyra’s story first or 3) read them both with alternating chapters. I opted for option 3 and I liked this method as it meant I wasn't going into a “second” story where I already know what happens. (Just make sure your bookmark doesn't fall out when you're flipping the book around!)
Gemma is from a wealthy family and spends her days going to school and worrying about being overweight whilst dealing with her overprotective parents. Lyra, on the other hand, is living in a cloning facility where her days are full of repetitive testing and the island the facility is on is surrounded by armed guards so there is no way to leave. An explosion at the facility results in the two girls coming face to face.
The pace is strong but Gemma’s side of the story definitely feels more fleshed out. I guess this makes sense as Gemma knows more of the world whereas Lyra has only ever known the facility which she’s just left and is having to readjust. We get more information from Gemma’s perspective though so her half was more enjoyable to read. I do like the way the story intertwines between narratives and the fact the writing style switches to accommodate the differences in the characters. I would have liked more detail of the world and the romances weren't really all that necessary (although Pete was cute) but there were enough plot twists to keep me invested.
Overall, I thought Replica was pretty good. I didn't enjoy it as much as some of Oliver’s contemporaries but I like the idea and I'm sure I'll be back for the sequel.