cover image Replica


Lauren Oliver. Harper, $19.99 (544p) ISBN 978-0-06-239416-3

Oliver (Vanishing Girls) sacrifices substance for style in a novel told from two perspectives: flipping the book allows readers to read the full story from the point of view of the two main characters, Lyra and Gemma. Lyra, a replica (clone) at the Haven Institute research facility, and Gemma, a loner who has spent her life in and out of hospitals due to various medical troubles, have surprisingly similar stories—both live in relative captivity. When Haven is destroyed, Lyra escapes and crosses paths with Gemma. Gemma, the daughter of one of the men who initially funded Haven, decides to help Lyra and another replica, 72; in the process, she slowly begins to discover the mysterious mandate of the Haven Institute. This ambitious project requires patience during some of the more repetitive parts of these interlocking stories, even as Oliver explores thought-provoking ethical and existential terrain. The pieces of Oliver’s story all fit together, but the novelty of the storytelling approach doesn’t quite compensate for a less-than-compelling plot. Ages 14–up. [em]Agent: Stephen Barbara, Inkwell Management. (Oct.) [/em]