Review – Replica by Jenna Black

November 2, 2013 Reviews 0 ★★★★

Title: Replica
Series: Replica #1
Author: Jenna Black
Release Date: July 16, 2013
Pages: 368, Paperback
Goodreads Rating: 3.53 stars
My Rating: 4/5 stars
My Content Rating: PG-16? (References to sex-though it’s not shown, some violence)

Summary from Goodreads: Sixteen-year-old Nadia Lake comes from a high-class Executive family in the Corporate States. Her marriage has been arranged with the most powerful family in her state, which means she lives a life of privilege but also of public scrutiny, followed everywhere by photographers, every detail of her private life tabloid fodder. But her future is assured, as long as she can maintain her flawless public image — no easy feat when your betrothed is a notorious playboy.


Nathan Hayes is the heir of Paxco — controller of the former state of New York, and creator of human replication technology, science that every state and every country in the world would kill to have. Though Nadia and Nate aren’t in love, they’ve grown up close, and they (and the world) are happy enough with their match.

Until Nate turns up dead, and as far as everyone knows, Nadia was the last person to see him alive.

When the new Nate wakes up in the replication tanks, he knows he must have died, but with a memory that only reaches to his last memory backup, he doesn’t know what killed him. Together, Nadia and Nate must discover what really happened without revealing the secrets that those who run their world would kill to protect.

 

Replica reads like a dystopian sci-fi mystery – quite a unique combination!

The story takes place in a world where corporations have taken over the government.  It is told from both Nate and Nadia’s perspectives.  Nadia and Nate are engaged – their marriage arranged at a young age – a convenient business transaction.  They are both fine with this arrangement – they love each other and enjoy each other’s company, but know that they will never be in love because Nate is gay.  Nadia knows this and doesn’t mind covering for him and acting as his girlfriend, but she draws the line one night when Nate wants her to stand watch at a Corporate event so that he can have sex with his Basement Dweller boyfriend, Kyle.  Nadia refuses to help Nate with his useless rebellion and leaves him there alone with Kyle – only to find out that he is murdered that night.  Luckily, since Nate is one of the most important people in Paxco (the Chairman’s heir), he is replicated – his body is reproduced and his downloaded memories are placed into his mind, making him a perfect copy of the original Nate.  But, Paxco officials are intent on finding Kyle, who they believe murdered Nate – and they are not above threatening Nadia into helping.   Nadia is left with the choice of whether she should betray Nate, her closest friend and future husband, in order to save herself and her family from certain ruin.

The negatives:
  • The villains.  One issue that I had with this book was that the “bad guys” were made out to be completely villainous – Mosely, in particular, is right out of a comic strip.  He seems to enjoy making threats, destroying lives and beating up young girls.  And why?  Um… he’s a bad man?  I didn’t really get it.  Supposedly, he would do anything for the good of Paxco and that’s his motivation, but it didn’t really explain why he was so evil.  This is an issue with all of the villains in this book – they just weren’t particularly believable because they were too one-dimensional.
  • Pacing.  For some reason, this book just didn’t grab my attention and hold it the way I would have liked it to.  For the first half  of the book, I was interested in what would happen and with the mystery of the story, but I didn’t feel compelled to keep reading.  It wasn’t until somewhere in the second half where the action really picked up and I felt truly engaged with the story.  It’s not that the first half of the book was bad but, for me, it just didn’t have that certain spark that captures my attention and makes me not want to put the book down.
What I Loved:
  • The dystopian society.  I thought that the concept of this book was a really unique spin on the dystopian genre.  I thought it was very interesting to imagine what the world would be like if corporations actually bought out the government and were left to rule as they saw fit (always keeping their own best interests in mind, of course).  The class system that was created was also unique – with the Executives being the upper class.  If you were born into an Executive family, you were expected to act accordingly – business was a way of life.  People walked around wearing business attire and were expected to act with a certain sense of decorum at all times.  The next class down basically consisted of the working class – the Employees.  These people were considered respectable, but they didn’t lead the kind of lives that the Executives led.  Then, there were the Basement Dwellers – the name sums up their role in society fairly well.  I loved that the Basement wasn’t just slums, but instead had a funky, dangerous, club vibe where people did their best to fit in by standing out – with outrageous hair, makeup and clothing.  It was as if the Basement Dwellers were trying to be the complete antithesis of what the Executives wanted and expected.  The business-ruled world of Replica was quite intriguing and I hope that we get to learn more about their society in the next book!
  • The mystery.  Most of this book was focused on the mystery of who killed Nate and why.  While Nate and Nadia are fairly certain that the person accused of the crime (Kyle) isn’t actually the murderer, they’re never quite sure what to believe and, as the reader, I wasn’t sure either.  I had suspicions, but was still very surprised when we found out who killed Nate (especially with why they did it – the why took the book down a whole new path that I had no idea was coming).  It was also really interesting to discover undercurrents of what was happening in The Corporate States and their society as Nadia and Nate uncovered more and more of the mystery.
  • Nadia.  I really connected with Nadia as a character.  She wasn’t a kick-butt heroine, but she did have a sort of inner strength that allowed her to do what was necessary to protect herself, her family and even Nate and Kyle.  I appreciated that – it made her seem like a real person – she was rightly terrified of what would happen to her and her family and she made choices based on both fear and her own sense of right and wrong.  This seemed incredibly realistic to me.  I loved her sense of loyalty and dedication to both Nate and her family and I really felt for her when she had to make decisions that felt like choosing between them.  Nadia may not have jumped up and attacked the bad guys, but she did use her intelligence and dedication to make a horrible situation better.
  • Nate.  Nate wasn’t actually a particularly likable character at first.  He was very self-centered and had a “bored with life” troublemaker attitude that wasn’t very endearing.  Yet, it was through Nadia that you got to see a bit more of the real Nate and her affection for him made me want to like him too.  Also, after the replication, he became a more sympathetic character because of his struggle with whether or not he was really still Nate and his worries about how others would treat him.  His character grew quite a bit throughout the book, so I was firmly on his side by the end.
  • Hints at romance.  Of course, there’s no romance between Nate and Nadia, since it’s established right away that Nate’s gay.  There are times where Nadia kind of wishes that he might feel something for her that way, which I’ve seen a few reviewers say really bothered them.  But I didn’t see this as her hoping to change Nate – it’s more that she occasionally feels somewhat wistful about the kind of marriage that she wishes she could have – that she knows can’t happen since she’s engaged to a gay man.  There were, however, hints at a romance that might develop between Nadia and another character.  I’m not 100% sure where this was left, though, since something that the possible love interest does toward the end of the book makes him pretty unredeemable in my opinion.  I guess I’ll have to wait and see!
  • The ending.  The last quarter of the book definitely got exciting.  And the book had a twist ending that, while it wasn’t completely unexpected, definitely set up the next book in the series really well.  I loved that the ending was told from a new and fresh perspective and left us eager to see what would happen next!
Replica is a unique dystopian sci-fi novel with a mystery twist that keeps you guessing!  I rate it 4/5 stars.

I won this book in a giveaway (with no requirement for review, of course!).  Keep entering those giveaways – you can win good stuff!!

 

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