Saturday, September 22, 2012

Even Better Than The Original

Expected Publication: October 16th, 2012
Beta (Annex # 1)
By: Rachel Cohn
ISBN-13: 9781423157199

Elysia is created in a laboratory, born as a sixteen-year-old girl, an empty vessel with no life experience to draw from. She is a Beta, an experimental model of a teenage clone. She was replicated from another teenage girl, who had to die in order for Elysia to exist. 
Elysia's purpose is to serve the inhabitants of Demesne, an island paradise for the wealthiest people on earth. Everything about Demesne is bioengineered for perfection. Even the air induces a strange, euphoric high, which only the island's workers--soulless clones like Elysia--are immune to. 

At first, Elysia's life is idyllic and pampered. But she soon sees that Demesne's human residents, who should want for nothing, yearn. But for what, exactly? She also comes to realize that beneath the island's flawless exterior, there is an under-current of discontent among Demesne's worker clones. She knows she is soulless and cannot feel and should not care--so why are overpowering sensations cloud-ing Elysia's mind? 

If anyone discovers that Elysia isn't the unfeeling clone she must pretend to be, she will suffer a fate too terrible to imagine. When her one chance at happi-ness is ripped away with breathtaking cruelty, emotions she's always had but never understood are unleashed. As rage, terror, and desire threaten to overwhelm her, Elysia must find the will to survive. 


     Elysia lives on Demesne, an island paradise that can only belong to the wealthy of the world.  She's sixteen years old and has live their her whole life - which is only the past few weeks.  Elysia is a beta model, an experimental model of a teenage clone.  She was cloned from another girl, who is now dead (the real person has to die before a clone can be made).  The purpose of the clones in general is to serve the residents of Demesne in any way they wish, once they are bought by their "owner."  Elysia is no different and when she is bought to be a companion to the children of one of the most important couples on the island, in essence to replace their own daughter who is away at collge, Elysia is glad that she has found a purpose.  But then she starts having strange visions, memories that belong to her First and shouldn't be available to her.  Elysia starts showing Olympic swimming abilities (another quality of her First) and has a sense of taste that should be absent as a clone.  She begins to feel discontent with being treated like a cross between a pet and a slave, like many of the other Demesne workers and begins to feel lust, anger, happiness and other forbidden emotions.  How can she find a way to survive, when if discovered she will be recycled as defective?  And why is she displaying the qualities of a soul when she supposedly doesn't have one?  
     This book was something that I have been dying to read for months, ever since I first saw the cover.  But I am a major fan of Rachel Cohn's to begin with, especially her Cyd Charisse Trilogy.  I was excited to see her expand into the realm of science fiction.  I was not disappointed in the least.  The book starting out with Elysia working in a boutique as living merchandise and waiting to be bought, elicits a very strong reaction and caused me as a reader to instantly connect to this poor being who is caught between being an object and a real person.  I liked the in-depth world building that explains why regular people can't serve the rich residents of Demesne and they "need" to engineer clone slaves for their menial tasks.  The differences between the clones were also highlighted when Elysia interacted with the Governor's secretary clone (who was also his sexual slave), one of the house clones who is an active member of the rebellion, and the other 'defective' Beta clone, Becky who lashes out at her creators.  The development of Elysia into her own person over time is very gratifying and especially heartbreaking when she is mistreated near the end of the book in an unforgivable way.   Her adoptive 'brother' Ivan and his friends play a big part in her development, especially his friend Tahir who was in a horrific accident and almost died.  Elysia and Tahir start a romantic relationship and he, Greer, Dementia and Ivan introduce her to the drug 'raxia' which puts you in a blissful state and allows clones to "wake up."  There were a few very good plot twists involving the identity of another, secret clone among the wealthy families, but there was major plot twist near the end that I thought was highly unnecessary.  Overall, a very interesting sc-fi debut and I'm looking forward to the next book in the series.

VERDICT:  4/5  Stars

*I received this book as part of Around the World ARC Tours, run by the lovely Princess Bookie. No favors or money were exchanged for this review. It will be available for purchase on October 16th, 2012.*

1 comment:

  1. I adored this book. I got it at BEA this year & read it in less than 2 days.
    I can't wait for it to come out so I can buy a copy (I sent mine to my best blogger friend)to re read it..lolz..
    I am on pins and needles for book 2.
    I loved the Tahir plot twist ;)
    I wondered myself if the clones ever got abused in any capacity because they are considered soulless and made to be beyond gorgeous.
    I am glad the author addressed that and did so tactfully.
    Great review :)


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