Replica by Lauren Oliver

Posted March 29, 2020 by Amber in Reviews / 2 Comments



by Lauren Oliver

Publisher: HarperCollins on October 4, 2016
Genre: Science Fiction
Target Age Group: Young Adult
Rating: ★★½

Check out this book on Goodreads

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 learns terrible truths about herself and her family that will threaten to destroy everything she loves.

Two girls, two stories, one novel.


I think what Lauren Oliver set out to do here insofar as format is really interesting and original – Replica is a flip book, meaning that instead of having an integrated POV, you can literally flip the book over and start the other POV afterward… or read chapter-by-chapter.  Reader’s choice!  As an audiobook listener, the choice was made for me (all one, then the other) but I do appreciate the concept and think it was a cool idea.

The audiobook read’s Lyra’s POV first, then flips the book over to Gemma’s POV, so I’m going to address it like that… almost like two different stories that intermingle.

Lyra’s POV is interesting.  In Lyra’s perspective, we see a little of Haven.  We see a world where people are cloned in order to grow viruses and test medication.  An illegal operation of a science-fiction (maybe even dystopian) sort, I thought that the world building in this half (44%, realistically) was promising.  Had the story continued with the revelation of Haven and further development of the sci-fi elements, I think I may have enjoyed Replica.  I’ve always found cloning to be an interesting dystopian element, but unfortunately, Lauren Oliver did not follow that storyline.  In fact, I felt like Lyra’s POV stopped rather abruptly.

Gemma’s POV was such a contrast to Lyra’s.  Gemma almost always describes herself in terms of her weight.  She talks constantly about her lack of experience and how her weight keeps people from looking at her… generally, there was a lot of focus on this, and there’s a difference between representing a minority and making the whole thing unnecessarily uncomfortable by saying, “hey! look at his! an overweight MC!” over and over again.  So immediately, as we’re getting into Gemma’s POV, I found myself a bit repelled by it.  The deeper into the book I got, the less believable her situation seemed.  She runs away to Florida and ultimately, her parents let it happen, and so does her best friend.  She becomes quick friends with two different boys who are both attracted to her and speak to her in an uncomfortably familiar way, and there are no red flags about this?  In fact, her first kiss and main romance is with a guy she herself calls “Pervy Pete”.

So, you know, that’s the quality of romance we’re working with here.

If I had started with Gemma’s POV, I absolutely would have DNF’d this book.  But Lyra’s POV was interesting, with a lot of potential in world building.  I kept waiting for some proper closure for Lyra, and that’s what kept me going through Gemma’s POV.  But honestly?  I found the ending unsatisfying.  There were so many things that could have happened, so much more excitement, but I never felt we got plot closure.

So while the physical concept was cool, and plot had promise, I don’t particularly recommend Replica.  It did not deliver.

Ratings Breakdown

Setting: ★★★ 1/2
Plot: ★ 1/2
Characters: ★★
Writing: ★★
Pacing: ★★★ 1/2
Narrator: ★★★
Personal Enjoyment: ★★


Have you been falsely lured in by a beautiful cover?  I adore the cover art for Replica, and I feel very let down.  Anyone else?  Let me know in the comments!

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2 responses to “Replica by Lauren Oliver

  1. I bought this entire miniseries of individual comics based on Marvel comics villains, because the art on the covers was so beautiful–they looked like full paintings versus the usual style of comic cover. However, once opened, I had no idea what was going on. It felt like every single line of dialogue had a star beside it saying to read “issue _” of another series and it was indecipherable. Still, maybe I’ll frame those covers eventually, because they were really nice.

    • Amber

      Oh no, that’s the worst. Bad enough to not like the story, but then to be referred back to something you don’t own is so frustrating! Framing the covers sounds like a great way to salvage!