What I'm Reading: Get Even by Gretchen McNeil

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Beta by Rachel Cohn

Something about this book really grabbed me. I don't know if it was the cover or the summary, or a combination of the two. I know that Rachel Cohn has written some other awesome books, but this was my first to read by her, and when I discovered it on sale at Austin Teen Book Fest, I scooped it up and started reading it while I stood in line to get something signed!

Here's the summary from Goodreads: 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 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.

What I Liked: 1) I loved the premise. I'm sure there are other clone stories out there, but this one was something totally new and interesting for me. Somehow they've figured out how to make clones and these clones are mostly used as service workers. But Elysia is purchased for a different purpose, and watching her interact with her new family is...intriguing. 2) Clones have a code to live by but Elysia, and several other clones she learns later on, have trouble meeting those expectations, and have to keep a lot of things secret. The danger of these secrets hangs over Elysia's head and make her a complex and insightful character. 3) The secondary characters. Some of them I liked. Some of them I hated. But whether I loved or hated them, these secondary characters all played a very significant role in the story, and there was depth to them that sometimes you don't find in supporting characters. You guys know me, and I always get into stories with great characters so it's easy to see why I could get into Beta. 4) If you think the supporting characters were great, Elysia and Tahir were awesome. Considering the supposed "soulless-ness" of clones, I found a great amount of depth to her and some complex feelings, for a teenager especially. The developing relationship between the two was a little...obvious, but at the same time it was sweet and very enjoyable for me. In contrast to some of the other, darker parts of the story, it was very light.

What I Didn't Like: Well, Elysia does her fair share of whining. But I think that was part of what made her different from the adult clones on Demense. It seemed to be Miz Cohn's way of making sure we understood that she was a teenage clone, and only the second of her kind, instead of one of the many adults that have been in service for years.

Overall Thoughts: I loved Beta. It's definitely a story that I'll read again and am anxiously awaiting the next installment of this series. It ended on a cliffhanger but it worked and just made me all the more excited for what's happening next in Elysia's story. There are some parts that may pose problems for readers, Elysia's whininess in particular, but I still recommend it for the creativity and interesting storylines!

My Rating: 4 shots

4 comments:

  1. Great review. I've had my eye on this book for a while and your review makes me want to read it more!

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    1. Good! I've read a lot of mixed reviews of it, but I thought it was wonderful!!

      Courtney

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  2. Most people who have read Beta have given it a positive review so I'll have to move it up my list. Great review!

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    1. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

      Courtney

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