Thursday, October 4, 2012
Beta by Rachel Cohn
"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 bio engineered 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.
The first in a dazzlingly original science fiction series from best-selling author Rachel Cohn, "Beta "is a haunting, unforgettable story of courage and love in a corrupted world."- Goodreads.com
Beta is the first novel of the series "Annex" by Rachel Cohn. I have not read many of the novels that have made Cohn a success to the general public (i.e. Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, Dash and Lily's Book of Dares and the Cyd Charisse Series). Before reading this book I read a few Goodreads reviews and became nervous, nothing like being pumped to read a new book, get it as a galley and then read terrible things about the story/characters/writing/author. I am sure those opinions are warranted; however, it makes readers nervous. I almost got rid of Beta from my TBR list, but clearly that didn't happen.
SO my journey into Beta-world was... interesting. I think that at first it was difficult to understand why Elysia existed, why this island existed, and where was the rest of the world in conjunction to this Utopian island. This is because Cohn just jumps to Elysia and how she is the "first" successful Beta (teenage clone/driod... apparently teenagers are volatile with the whole hormone thing and so they do not make a successful clone/droid). As the story progress, glimpse of answers to the how and why this Utopian world exists and why it's so God awful expensive.
It took awhile to find the corruption in this book, obviously it is a series and Cohn ends the book in a cliff hanger... so nicely done because I will be reading the second book to figure W.T.F is going on here! I won't say that the story is ingenious, because many times I thought "I am reading The Host... no wait is this some other YA novel." I could see many similarities to books that I have already read, and that frustrated me; however, towards the end I was like "Nooo She Ditin!" For those few moments I saw that perhaps I don't quite understand what Cohn is going to do with the characters.
The end helps, there are a lot of twists and turns that are offered for those readers looking for excitement; however, there is recreational use of drugs and flippant sex also there is the whole "Clones/droids are not good enough to be considered as having rights and they aren't people, but we can take advantage of their bodies for our own pleasures...SWEET (NOT!)." There are undercurrents to the ideas of right and violations of rights in this book, so I cannot completely knock it for it's relevance and for trying to have a message... but you have to have an open mind about it.
I know there is not enough substance about the story in my review but I feel that right now all I could say is: there is a girl MC who is a genetically made clone of a dead girl, who is bought by one of the rich families on the island to entertain them. She hangs out with her "siblings" and their friends. Meets a boy, falls for said boy (even though she is having flashbacks of her First's love), said boy had an accident a year ago... he is acting weird, flashback lover some how is on the island, girl starts experiencing human emotions and experiences, girl gets abused by the system and her "family", girl runs away, girl who is a clone might not be just a clone... but human? Right! That's what I thought... a "No She Ditin" moment!
My advice, stop comparing YA novels, or all fiction work to the classics... because a book cannot become a classic the day it is published, it becomes a classic due to it's perseverance and relevance to the test of time (key word...TIME). Have FUN with the book, don't judge it until the last sentence and then you can either have a moment like I did "What?!?! Is she crazy? Now I have to wait to see what that was all about... and what do you mean the clone/non-human is...? NO. SHE. DITIN!" Or you can say "Eh, this was crap..." It's up to you.
I gave Beta a 3/5 stars because it can be better, there is room for improvement, similarities to other stories are too uncanny; however, there are surprises that make you think!
This book was provided by the publisher through Netgalley.com. No money was exchange for this review.