Author: Jenna Black
Genre: YA, LGBT, Dystopian, Mystery, Crime, Biopunk
Publication Date: July 16, 2013 (Tor Teen – North America)
Source: Publisher-provided ARC
Summary: 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.
☆: 0.5/5 stars – a fabulous premise, but a serious bait and switch that made me rage so hard I melted the floor.
Review: Oh, “Replica”. How I wanted to like you. Really, I did. You had a fabulous premise – one I couldn’t resist. But what I got was a serious case of blurb seduction and bait and switch – to the point where I just couldn’t finish you. I’m not easy to offend, but I was pretty upset by this book. Why? We’ll get into that in a bit. But if you want a more progressive, kinder LGBT mystery biopunk story, I suggest you look elsewhere. “Replica” just didn’t deliver, and on top of things, really goes into a sensitive topic that it shouldn’t have. I wish I could recommend “Replica”, but I just can’t.
Why this book bothered me so much (spoilers ahead): the “love interest” and MC’s best friend is gay. His boyfriend Kurt is from “the Basement” aka the slums, whom he made his personal butler/valet in order to keep their relationship going as it’s not okay for those in positions of power (or about to inherit positions of power) to be gay. Nope. MC is asked to be a lookout whilst love interest and his man get a little alone time, and she gets mad, mostly because even though they’re bffs, she’s also in love with him and also knows that he’ll never be faithful once they DO get married because uh, she’s not quite his cup of tea in terms of gender.
And then he’s murdered. Boyfriend is suspected, and hunted down, while love interest is resurrected as a Replica – a very rare clone, supposedly so expensive to create that there’s only been 4 ever made since its inception. But he doesn’t have his latest backup of memories (kind of like “Dollhouse” there) so he and MC have to figure out who murdered his original. MC hopes that the Replica will be straight, but it’s not to be – he still loves Kurt, even if he IS a Replica.
Murder mystery investigation ensues, and Kurt is looking guiltier and guiltier with each page.
Anyone else see a problem here? I do. I hate it when gay characters are killed off, I hate it when their lovers are suspects, and I doubly hate it in this circumstance in terms of “curing gays” in the guise of using cloning/Replicas. Because, let’s be real here, that’s exactly what our MC wants – for her bff to be cured so they can marry and pop out kids – out of love and not out of duty.
And at that point, I was just 500% done. I don’t get this incensed very easily, but Black managed to hit nearly all of my triggers with this one. While the murder mystery was interesting, it wasn’t enough to keep me going. The worldbuilding was shoddy (we’re not given a point in time in terms of how far we are in the future, or how the Corporate States really came to be instead of just a one-sentence explanation), and the character construction just wasn’t up to snuff (no pun intended). The sensory imagery wasn’t really there – way more telling over showing and that was pretty surprising, as it should have been a little more than it was at the ARC point of things.
Basically, it came down to this: I just couldn’t keep going in good conscience, and it dismays me that this is being put out in the YA world – especially when we’re making such good progress in terms of gender identity and sexual identity. This book is a roadblock in that progress, and it just pains me to no end. As I identify as pansexual/genderfluid, this book was painful to read, and I want the time I was reading it back.
So basically, if you want a pretty backward-thinking scifi biopunk book, “Replica” may be for you. But this is just how I feel about it – “Replica” is out July 16th 2013 from Tor Teen in North America, so check it out and see how you feel about it. I just wish it hadn’t gone in the direction that it had – because if it hadn’t, I probably really would have liked this book.