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Saturday, November 3, 2012

Beta by Rachel Cohn

Title: Beta
Author: Rachel Cohn
ISBN: 9781423157199
Publisher: Hyperion Teens
Series: Annex #1
Released: October 16, 2012
Page #: 329
Source: eARC on NetGalley

"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 under­current of discontent among Demesne’s worker clones. She knows she is soulless and cannot feel and should not care—so why are overpowering sensations cloud­ing 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 happi­ness 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."
First Lines:

"It's me she wants to purchase.
The fancy lady claims she came into the resort boutique looking to buy a sweater, but she can't take her eyes off me."
Page 1

If nothing else, this book will teach you that clones are going to take over the world. Well, sort of. Maybe they will only take over if people treat them like property - something to buy and serve them for the duration of their lives.

So, Elysia is the clone of a dead girl. She was created to serve as a companion to whatever family she is bought by. She isn't supposed to have feelings, memories, cravings and really, independent thought. She gets purchased by a well-to-do family who cherishes her and treat her mostly like a daughter. But she realizes that things aren't the way they're supposed to be. Especially when she starts to hear about clone uprisings. She finds a few things she wasn't supposed to see/know and it changes the whole course of her short clone-life.

For some reason, I had trouble picturing the clones as regular people. I almost thought of them as cyborgs or something - totally metallic and creepy. But really, they are exactly like everyone else - except for their violet eyes and tattoos on their faces. I think what kept me from seeing them normally was how they were engineered. Emotionless, thoughtless, only living to serve. Doesn't that sound like a robot to you? I would probably be creeped out to come across a human-thing like that. Yikes.

The whole concept of this isolated island for the rich was very intriguing. Especially considering how much it caters to keeping people happy, calm, and generally even-keel. It's kind of amazing to think that a place like that would be possible - though I can only imagine that the rich and famous wish for a place like that. Of course, there is plenty of rivalry and society sniping, but it seems like such a crazy idea.

This story is set after the Water Wars. You don't really get a whole lot of history about this - enough to talk about how a city has been built in the middle of a desert. I am interested in learning more about the world where this is set - outside of the euphoric island. I'm sure the next book will lead us to more of that information.

While I have put a science fiction tag on this review, I think it is fairly tame for sci fi. It's really more about this girl trying to figure out who she is supposed to be - because she doesn't fit into the mold that she has been told to fit into. I think it's a really fun story and I know it will find plenty of readers. The ending leaves you on a huge cliffhanger, so be prepared for that. I look forward to getting my hands on the next part of the story. Can't go wrong with Rachel Cohn, can you? :)
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