Replica by Lauren Oliver: So is it dystopian or contemporary?

Please Note: I received a free copy of Replica from it’s publisher Hachette Australia in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my review in any way, and all thoughts expressed are solely my own.

“They would face it together, as they were then: turned human by joy, by a belonging that felt just like freedom.”

by Lauren Oliver
 October 11, 2016 by Hodder & Stoughton
Originally Published October 4, 2016
ISBN13 9781473614963
Young Adult
Source: Hachette Australia (publisher)
Rating: ★★★

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, aka number 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 Institute. Hungry for answers, she travels to Florida, only to stumble upon two replicas and a completely new set of questions.

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Replica was a really strange book for me, because as much as I enjoyed it, I was just as equally disappointed by it. The hype around this novel was pretty intense, so in the end I think I was expecting something.. more. 

The thing that intrigued me most about this novel is the way it’s written. Replica is basically two books in one, with both stories printed on opposite sides of the book, so you can flip the book around to read it either one story followed by the other, or alternating chapters between the two characters. Personally, I’d recommend alternating chapters starting with Lyra, which is what I did, because I feel that if you go any other way about it, you won’t get the full effect of the story.

Lyra is a replica and is no stranger to death. Tucked away on an island isolated from the rest of the world, her days at the Haven Institute are filled with endless medical tests and examinations. She’s witnessed a vast number of her fellow peers grow sick and die, but that’s all she’s ever known. When one of the male replicas – 72 – goes missing, Lyra’s whole world gets turned upside down.

Gemma’s parents have had her wrapped in wool ever since she was a sickly child. Her father is miserable, and Gemma knows that he’s disappointed that she wasn’t born the strong and healthy child that he was hoping for. But there’s more to his misery than meets the eye… When Gemma discovers that her father once worked alongside the founder of the Haven Institute, she runs away from the safety of her home in an attempt to find out exactly what the institute is, and what it does.

I did find the story itself to be really interesting, but at times it felt very farfetched, which lost some points for me. I know, I know, that’s a lot coming from someone who likes reading about alternate dimensions and talking skeletons, but when you start reading something that makes you feel as though what’s happening could potentially be real, you want that feeling to stick around though the entire thing. Which it just didn’t.

One part thing that annoyed me was that when Gemma finds herself tangled in a gigantic mess as she begins to uncover details about Haven, it’s not long before she finds herself with the military on her tail, yet somehow she manages to simply outrun them in a car chase. THE MILITARY. Idk man, I just found that far too hard to believe.

My biggest issue though was that there was a really big clash of genres here, and they just didn’t flow together very well. One minute you’d be reading what felt like some sort of dystopian with cloned humans and danger, and the next you’re thrown into this contemporary drama with a splash of mystery. It was as though the author was trying to make what should have been a much darker plotline appeal to a different audience. It all just felt a little too choppy.

I did love reading it in alternating chapters, because when you got to the end of one chapter, you’d have to wait through the chapter of the other character (which was equally as exciting) before you could find out what happened next. Well, it did get a little less exciting once the two stories began to connect because you’d find yourself reading the same things over and over just from two different perspectives. There was also quite a lot of stuff that I just didn’t care for, and that I felt didn’t have any place in the story.

I mean, you’d have Gemma just basically trespass on military turf, risking her life to find out the secrets of the Haven Institute, and then the next minute she’s off complaining about her weight and how “boys like him never go for girls like me.” I’m actually really infuriated with how many times things like that were brought up throughout the novel, but I’m not even going to get into that. Just tell me though, does it sound like that sort of stuff really belongs in a book about CLONES AND SHIT???! 

That all being said though, Replica is still a really entertaining book. Despite its size and dark undertones, it’s actually a pretty quick and fun read that will surely have you on the edge of your seat until the last page (or should I say pages?). If you ever find yourself having some Stranger Things withdrawals, this might actually fill the void, if only temporarily.


If you think you might enjoy Replica, copies are available for purchase in the following places: QBD, Dymocks, Booktopia, The Book Depository, Amazon

Looking for another read that alternates between two different stories? Try Scott Westerfeld’s Afterworlds.

Have you guys read Replica? Were you sucked in by the hype and found yourself disappointed like I was? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Until next time,



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