From a distance, the Haven Institute, tucked away on a private island off the coast of Florida, looks serene and even beautiful. But up close the locked doors, military guards, and biohazard suits tell a different story. In truth, it is a clandestine research facility where thousands of replicas, or human models, are born, raised, and observed.
But 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. As they make their way through a new and menacing environment, they meet a stranger named Gemma, who has embarked on a perilous quest of her own. And as Lyra tries to understand Haven’s purpose, she uncovers earth-shattering secrets that will change the lives of both girls.
Gemma has been in and out of hospitals her whole life. A sickly child, she has grown into a lonely adolescent whose 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 human models, or replicas, 24 and 72—and a completely new set of questions. As Gemma tries to unravel the mysteries of Haven, she learnes terrible truths about herself and her family that will threaten to destroy everything she loves.
Two girls, two stories, one novel.
While the stories of Gemma and Lyra mirror each other, each contains revelations critically important to the other story. Their narratives can be read separately or in alternating chapters.
I liked this book! I was worried because of the alternative format. But the format worked well for me. One side is from Lyra’s point of view and the other is Gemma’s, you can read their individual stories by itself or you can alternate between chapters which is what I did. I ended up really enjoying flipping the book after every chapter.
Replica was full of unexpected plot twists and turns that kept me surprised and engaged. Because I was reading the chapter alternatively, there were some repeats in dialogue but the two different perspectives brought unique insight into the story.
Even though the book itself is pretty big, since there are two different stories, it doesn’t feel like it’s 520 pages. There are only two perspectives but there are multiple main characters. It can sometimes feel like we aren’t able to be engrossed in the characters, especially the love interests, because Lauren Oliver was trying to give everyone a balanced screen time. Other than our two main girls, we didn’t have wholly developed personalities from the others. BUT the book takes place in the span of a few days and there are sequels so there is still high hope.
Gemma is relatable. A little chubby and awkward but stubborn and ready for an adventure. I loved watching her grow and become more comfortable with herself. Lyra is also relatable and complex. She goes through a lot of internal struggle of what it means to be human and whether or not her emotions and feelings are valid.
Character relationships were okay. The relationships that develop the most are the romantic ones which was fine with me but it left me craving more. I wanted Gemma and Lyra’s relationship explored more since they’re the main characters.
Overall, this was surprising and engaging. A good introduction to a new series.