Sunday, November 11, 2012

Beta by Rachel Cohn

Elysia is a clone on the idyllic island of Demesne, created to fulfil the pleasure of the privileged humans who live in the enriched environment of the island the sea of Io that surrounds it.  She is a beta though, a first edition, limited and exclusive, the only successful clone to be made a teenager rather than an adult.  The fact she is a beta, unproven is too much for the Governors wife to resist and Elysia finds herself drawn into the strange and surreal family of the Governor, his wife, and their two children.  As a clone Elysia knows that she has no real emotion, she can not feel, she can not taste, she can not love - she is not human and has no soul.  But as time passes in the Governors home she begins to realise that she is different, that she is not what she is supposed to be - that she might be a Defect.

Elysia has seen what happens to a Defect, they are tortured, studied, and then discarded.  She knows she has to hide what she is becoming, but that becomes harder and harder - especially when she finds herself spending more and more time with Ivan and his friends.  It is a dangerous time for Elysia, there are problems with some of the clones on Demesne, more of them are coming awake, wanting more than a clones life - wanting to be free and equal.  When she is pushed too far Elysia will have to make a choice that could have greater consequences than just a moment in the life of a teenage beta clone.

Beta was a fascinating idea, a concept that seems well thought out and well imagined, but the delivery was just rather *meh*.  I had high hopes for the story, and only kept reading to the end because I really hoped it would get better,  The dialogue is rather wooden, and the storyline is rather clumsy in the way it is portrayed, and while I hoped at first that this was just because we were seeing the world through Elysias eyes and the world was new to her that things would get better - but sadly they really didn't.  Overall it kind of felt like someone had taken a blockbuster movie and let a bunch of high school students film it on hand held cameras - the passion was there, but it just lacked the polish and oomph of a well shot movie. 

There are some nice little twists in the story, and the ending packs a wallop, but if you have sophisticated reading tastes you may find this a little bland, and hopefully Rachel Cohn will be able to bring more warmth and humanity to the next book in the series, or at least liven up the dialogue and the "scenes" so that they aren't so flat and wooden.  There are also times when it feels as though this would have made a great read for older teens, but that it was watered down so younger teens would be able to cope with the material - maybe for the next book Cohn can choose which side of the fence she wants to sit on and that will do justice to the story rather than failing for both age groups.  I liked the book, but I would have loved it if it had been a little more "real", and if it had not been so confused about where it fits on the bookshelves.

If you like this book then try:
  • Origin by Jessica Khoury
  • The selection by Kiera Cass
  • Cinder by Marissa Meyer
  • Wither by Lauren DeStefano
  • Partials by Dan Wells

Reviewed by Brilla

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