Review: Replica

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: ReplicaReplica by Jenna Black
Series: Replica Trilogy #1
Published by Tor Teen on July 16, 2013
Genres: Dystopian, Romance
Pages: 368
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
two-half-stars

Breathtaking new YA SF from the author of the Faeriewalker series

Sixteen-year-old Nadia Lake comes from a high-class Executive family in the Corporate States. Her marriage has been arranged with the most powerful family in her state, which means she lives a life of privilege but also of public scrutiny, followed everywhere by photographers, every detail of her private life tabloid fodder. But her future is assured, as long as she can maintain her flawless public image — no easy feat when your betrothed is a notorious playboy.

Nathan Hayes is the heir of Paxco — controller of the former state of New York, and creator of human replication technology, science that every state and every country in the world would kill to have. Though Nadia and Nate aren’t in love, they’ve grown up close, and they (and the world) are happy enough with their match.

Until Nate turns up dead, and as far as everyone knows, Nadia was the last person to see him alive.

When the new Nate wakes up in the replication tanks, he knows he must have died, but with a memory that only reaches to his last memory backup, he doesn’t know what killed him. Together, Nadia and Nate must discover what really happened without revealing the secrets that those who run their world would kill to protect.

First Sentence: “The limo pulled up to the curb at the entrance of Chairman Hayes’s Long Island mansion, and Nadia dug deep in search of an untapped reserve of energy.”

Review:
Back when I requested Replica, months ago, I was still fully enthralled by the dystopian fiction trend. Sadly, by the time it arrived, I’d already hit a wall, a point where every single one I read reminds me of others, and I just haven’t been wowed by any for some time, even The Fifth Wave, which has been highly praised. With that in mind, my expectations for Replica were pretty low, and, happily, Replica turned out to be much better than anticipated. Though the world building is shaky, the unique make up of the cast made Replica an interesting variant from the usual formula.

Black uses third person limited narration, switching between Nate and Nadia. Nate is the Chairman Heir, destined to inherit Paxco, the insanely powerful corporation based in New York City that runs pretty much everything. Nadia has been betrothed to Nate since they were both children, and she’s always loved him, despite his increasingly drastic antics.

With his latest stunt, though, Nadia has had just about enough. That Nate is gay and the romantic part of their relationship will only ever be for show Nadia has made her peace with. She still loves Nate and she does not begrudge him other lovers, even though she wouldn’t mind if his heart had turned to her. Though she supports him, she still does not want to be an accomplice to his sneaking out of a party to have sex with his boyfriend and valet, Kurt Bishop. She storms off, and the next thing she hears Nate has died. And been replicated.

There are two solid points in Replica‘s favor for me. First, the inclusion of an LGBT main character. While it’s sad that this society still hasn’t evolved to be a hundred percent okay with homosexuality, the attitude still seems more open than now and I certainly feel like Jenna Black is promoting that romance. Plus, it spoke volumes to me that the only romance of any sort in Replica is that between Kurt and Nate. Though there’s an obvious impending relationship for Nadia, she has no romantic arc in this one.

Second, rather than focusing on romance, friendship is to the fore. Nadia and Nate do not have the perfect friendship, but they are there for each other when it counts. Nadia disapproves of a lot of Nate’s choices and Nate’s a bit too self-involved, but their affection for each other is evident in spite of all of that. There’s a dearth of real friendships in YA, and even less with a male/female friendship, so that was nice to see.

Some of the minor plot elements did surprise me, but, for the most part, the plot covered pretty familiar territory. Corrupt corporation managed by untrustworthy parents. Human regeneration. Questions of whether a replica is actually human, and what that means about human nature. A plot to overthrow the evil corporation. I’ve been through all of that before, and it even comes with the villainous monologue because of assured victory. And, much as I appreciated the out of the box main characters, characterization was still tepid all around. Much of this is decently well done, like the replication element, but it’s been done so often and didn’t do anything to stand out from the crowd.

Replica entertains well enough and includes LGBT themes, putting a unique spin on otherwise familiar territory. Also, romance doesn’t dominate the story, though the book still does read a bit like a CW show, with spoiled rich kids rebelling against their parents and going to party with hot poor people in the process. That doesn’t sound like I enjoyed Replica, I suppose, but I did for the most part. Still, I’m not sure that I’ll read the sequel, just because I feel like this one wrapped up well enough for me to be satisfied with ending there.

Favorite Quote:

“‘I don’t have the patience to play this game anymore. I know you put that message on my tray. You were seen, okay? So denying it just makes you look like a dumbass.'”

10 responses to “Review: Replica”

  1. GillyB says:

    Reading the synopsis, I honestly expected Nadia and Nate to fall in love. I think it’s awesome that the author went LGBT instead. This one still sounds pretty interesting to me, though not desperately so. Your review makes it all seem pretty “meh”.

    • Christina says:

      Yeah, I mean, it was alright, and I almost went for a three, but, ultimately, I was left feeling a bit ambivalent, which is sort of what the 2.5 means for me.

  2. That’s a pretty positive review for a low-ish rating. lol I’m over dystopian myself, so this is gonna be a no-go for me, but I do like that cover lots.

    Also, this is totally unrelated, but am I the only one who’d like to see characters who are in an arranged marriage actually end up with the person they’re supposed to be with? I feel like that would be really surprising and new, yeah? Maybe I’m the only one that thinks this. lol

  3. Amy says:

    I have been having a hard time really enjoying dystopian lately too. This one sounds interesting though. I love that the main character is gay and that the book has a big focus on his and Nadia’s friendship. It’s good to know this is in 3rd person though, since I tend to have a harder time with them. I don’t know if I would like this one or not. Great review chick!!

    • Christina says:

      I don’t know either, Amy. I suspect you might like it a bit more than me, but I don’t really have your tastes pinned down. This had some great elements, but overall I’m sort of meh about the whole thing.

  4. I hit my wall with dytopians a while ago. I have a bunch on my Kindle that I just haven’t been able to talk myself into reading. I do like that this doesn’t concentrate on romance and focuses on both LGBT relationships and male/female friendship, but it does kind of sound like the same old story, so I think I’ll pass. Great review!

  5. Wow, that is a pretty low rating, Christina. Coming from you that means that I won’t be reading this one. Sadly I echo your views on dystopian YA fiction for the last year. Nothing seems to leave a strong impression every time I’m reading one, so I’m staying away from it most of the time to avoid disappointment.

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