Beta by Rachel Cohn
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.Publishes in US: Oct 16th 2012
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.
1st in Annex series, the 2nd is untitled and set to release in 2013
Source: disney hyperion for review
Beta has such an awesome concept. I was drawn into Elysia's world and mind, wondering what would happen next, what she would feel that she wasn't supposed to and how her world would change.
I could connect with Elysia because she has the bursts of human emotion, taste, and memories, and her thought patterns really don't seem like they are automated or anything. I know that she refers to the chip alot and trying to process slang or terms that are unfamiliar, but I think that adds to the charm. It was a new experience though being inside the head of a clone, because you can go along and forget until the expectations that are on her sneak up on you and throw a wrench into things. She isn't supposed to feel, to taste, or to remember things that she does, because she is a clone, and her "first" the teen that died, the soul "removed" and then programmed with computer chips to act in response to emotions, but be immune to the happy and relaxing effect the island has.
Rachel Cohn writes with such vivid imagery it feels like I was there, looking at the constructed paradise with a purple hue. I wish that I could breathe in some of that oxygen to see what it means to be on such an island, but then as I see the turmoil under the surface I wonder, would it be worth it even just for a visit.
The story is definitely layered, with Elysia's story, the dynamics between the Governer and "Mother" as well as Liesel and Ivan the brother and sister she's adopted to. And then I didn't know what to think when Tahir came on the scene, but I loved every minute of it. From
I was constantly on the edge of my seat wondering what twist would come next, and which character would surprise me in ways I never saw coming.
This is a fast paced, yet dark and chilling story about what it means to be human, the constraints of that humanity and what can happen when the world goes into chaos. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this and can't wait to find out what happens next in Elysia's story.
Bottom Line: Beta breathes a breath of fresh air into the dystopia genre with this unique main character that I felt for and want so much more of.
Would you live on a paradise island if you could?