Monday, October 22, 2012

BETA by Rachel Cohn (Review)

Genre:Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopia, Thriller
Publication.Date  October 16th 2012
Published By:  Disney Hyperion | 
WebsiteRachel Cohn | 

BETA on Goodreads
My review copy:Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Where to get:

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 cloud-ing 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 happi-ness 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 cor-rupted world


"Clones are very eco, you know." She squeezes my arm affectionately. "You should be very proud to be one. Recycling dead people into clones is the ultimate scientific achievement. Your human First's death was not wasted, and you are totally biodegredable after your term of service.".
"What's a slut?" I ask him.
"A girl who puts out too easily."
"Puts out what?" I imagine Greer putting out dinner and don't understand what Ivan wouldn't like about that.
"Puts out, you know..." His face, already beet red from our run, turns a darker scarlet. "Sex."
I wonder where Greer puts the sex out.
If she were me (and she is me, even if she's dead), she would not fear my unnatural memories and instincts. She would say, Maybe your unspeakable defects give you power too?
"Father says we are all Defects, in our way. Humans and clones. He says the word is really just a scare tactic to incite disobedient beings into subservience. He says that's all it really is - just a word."

     A provocative, intellectually stimulating and emotionally engaging tale of humanity, identity, ethics and free will, BETA is, in a word, fascinating. In this fun to read, absorbing and unique novel, Rachel Cohn addresses some interesting ethical issues about the pitfalls of cloning and bio-genetics. She introduces us to a great new heroine that, engineered to serve the wealthy residents of Demesne, is forced to either obediently follow all the rules or die. Disquieting, thrilling and haunting, BETA is the first book in what quickly became one of my new favourite YA dystopian series

     Set on an idyllic island inhabited by only the wealthiest, most powerful people in the world (Demesne), BETA tells the story of Elysia, a first in a new generation of teenage clones. Elysia's life is not her own. She is a clone and therefore she does not experience emotions or desires. She is merely an expensive toy, a servant, a valuable possession designed to do whatever she's asked to do. While she's a novelty that her owners like to show off to their friends, she's also totally expendable and even the smallest hint of being a "defect" will result in her immediate termination. What will happen to Elysia when she'll discover that she might be, indeed, a defect? Will she find it in herself to fight for her life and freedom? In a world where clones are nothing more than slaves, and emotions and desires - a sign of imperfection, is there any hope for this unwanted clone who so desperately wants to live? 

     BETA has a lot to offer. It's well-written, fast-paced, filled with jaw-dropping twists and unexpected - at times even shocking - plot developments. From the first page to the last, it's a wild, breathtaking ride that is sure to surprise you at least a few times. The captivating and convincing prose ensures that even its most bizarre futuristic themes and improbable situations remain believable, the characters - relatable. Rachel Cohn created a world that, though a little bit underdeveloped and sketchy on the details (and possibly purposefully so!), is simply fantastic. Unsettling, cold and emotionless, yet beautiful and undeniably compelling. It's not a flawless book, but Cohn's greatly enjoyable writing style makes the few flaws and shortcomings easy to overlook and results in a perfectly satisfying, exciting story. Moreover, BETA is not only an action-packed and highly entertaining futuristic noir, it's also a multi-dimensional and thought-provoking morality tale. An affecting picture that is rich with metaphor, ambitious, and thematically relevant. Featuring themes such as discrimination, search for identity, equality, free will and slavery, it's an insightful examination of what it means to be human - to live, feel and want. 

     I enjoyed Elysia's first-person narrative and thought it worked way better than a third-person narrative would. I thought she was a great, likeable protagonist and while some of her decisions made me raise my eyebrows a little, overall I found her character quite realistic (as much as a clone could be) and relatable. In the end, I can say that I grew attached to her and enjoyed cheering her on. It was compelling to see the world through her eyes and watch her explore, learn, and experience all the new things for the first time. Her inexperience often lead to many funny situations and hilarious misunderstandings. At the same time, though, while some parts of the story were amusing, even heart-warming, the overall tone of the story was serious, quite unsettling and dark. 

    Another aspect of this book that I really loved was its mysteriousness. There is so much going on within the pages - from cloning and rebellious movements against it to Elysia's personal experiences and adventures - yet most of that is covered with a veil of mystery and secrecy. And while we do get some answers at the end, many of the questions are left unanswered. For the most part, the story line was positively unpredictable. The tension never let up and kept me on my toes all throughout the book. The only thing I could possibly complain about is that I now have to wait so long to find out what happens next! And that ending?! Oh. My. Gosh. Talk about a killer cliffhanger!

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About the Author
Evie is the Blogger behind Bookish. She enjoys reading many different genres, especially YA, Paranormal, Contemporary Fiction and Fantasy.
She loves talking to authors and is always happy to welcome them for interviews, and guest posts. She also likes spreading the love for awesome books and  chatting with fellow book-worms.
You can find Evie here: Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Shelfari | The Library Thing


Dorine White said...

Sounds interesting. It reminds me a little of that movie, The Island.

Amy said...

I'm glad you really liked this. I have been seeing a lot of mixed reviews on it. It sounds like an interesting book. Great review hon!

Andrea @ Cozy Up said...

I haven't finished this one yet, but I understand exactly what you mean about this being a page turner from the beginning. I love the ethics of free will in this book. I can't wait to see how this ends and what questions are answered. I have so many!

Nereyda @Mostly YA Book Obsessed said...

I'm glad you liked this one. I saw many 2 and 3 star reviews and made me not want to read it as bad as I did before.

Tiffany Mahaffy said...

Oh yay!! I am so glad u loved this one because I am super excited about it. Despite the many different reviews (good & bad) I hav maintained my need with this one<3. I can't wait to pick this up as soon as I ge a copy lol

Jaime Lester said...

So, I feel like a ninny (I always end up feeling like a ninny when I hit your blog- not your fault, at all). I had Beta on hold at the library, but for some odd reason I removed the hold. I don't know what is wrong with me. And it wasn't the cover this time! I like the cover. I think I will head over to the library and put it back on hold now. Thank you!

Karina A. said...

This sounds interesting and the cover's great! I'm not into Sci-Fi, I just enjoy watching,not reading them. I'll think about it. Thanks for the review!

Grace Lo said...

I have a serious love-hate relationship with cliffhangers . . .
Well, nevertheless, I'm glad you enjoyed this book, and am definitely going to get it soon!

Jaime Lester said...

Ok, so I put it back on hold and brought it home with me. After, I read a few more reviews for it and some of the things that were in the reviews really seemed like they might bother me. A lot. Like basically rape and other things like that. I wanted to ask you if these things are really in there, what context they are in. Do you think there are things that bad in there that would keep me from enjoying it? You liked it and I tend to like what you like, but having questions about this one.

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