Gemma has been in and out of hospitals since she was born. ‘A sickly child’, her lonely life to date has revolved around her home, school and one best friend, Alice. But when she discovers her father’s connection to the top secret Haven research facility, currently hitting the headlines and under siege by religious fanatics, Gemma decides to leave the sanctuary she’s always known to find the institute and determine what is going on there and why her father’s name seems inextricably linked to it.
Amidst the frenzy outside the institute’s walls, Lyra – or number 24 as she is known as at Haven – and a fellow experimental subject known only as 72, manage to escape. Encountering a world they never knew existed outside the walls of their secluded upbringing , they meet Gemma and, as they try to understand Haven’s purpose together, they uncover some earth-shattering secrets that will change the lives of both girls forever…
I receieved a proof copy of the novel courtesy of Chapter 5 Books in exchange for an honest review.
I feel as though the concept behind the two part book was incredible, but one of the narrators sadly let it down.
While I was gripped reading Lyra’s side of the book because her story was captivating – I do love to read books with slightly sci-fi/futuristic twists on the society in which we live , I found the concept of Replicas interesting, and yet odd at the same time. I can’t imagine an island full of copies of people just walking about, it just doesn’t seem plausible. Well, it does; given the modern day advancements in technology, but I’m not completely happy with the thought of it actually being a possibility.
However, once I flipped to Gemma’s POV (I read the book alternating chapters because I felt that it provided much more continuity) my interest was lost because she just didn’t seem to be as three dimensional and developed as Lyra. Not that Lyra was completely padded out either, but at least we were given information about her, which was developed past the simple statements about Gemma’s diseases which seemed to have nothing to do with the actual plot of the book, nor did they require an explanation as to what diseases they actually were, and how she coped with them (past the gist of “not very well”)… all things would have made the book more interesting.
But I have to say that both of the characters were realistically flawed which I really appreciated. Both Gemma and Lyra were incredibly reckless throughout the novel, and acted like typical (in my humble opinion) teenagers, which was nice because Oliver didn’t make them handle their respective situations in ways that only the most mature of us could handle. It was just nice to see an aspect of realism within the story.
Although in saying that, the love triangle/square/pentagon (depending on which part of the book you read) got on my nerves a few times as it always does but I’m glad that it didn’t take more than a novel for those to resolve as it does in many other books.
There were also countless “coincidences” which eventually rendered the book so predictable it honestly hurt.
I wish that the book was either two longer, separate companion novels or a much longer novel of its own because I largely felt that because of the tropes I have grown to despise which were ever-present throughout the book, the story/ies felt rushed which resulted in me having rather “meh” feelings about the characters, and that’s at best – because I honestly can’t say I felt much for most of them.
Because I really found it hard to…
On the whole, this book wasn’t entirely what I hoped it would be, but the concept behind the story, as well as the deconstructed dual POV saved it in my eyes, therefore deserving a higher rating than it would have received otherwise.
My Rating: 2.5/3 out of 5 Stars
“Normal is a word invented by boring people to make them feel better about being boring.”