Lyra is a replica, one of thousands of clones bred as research subjects at Haven, a top-secret medical research facility on an island off the coast of Florida. Gemma, once a sickly child but now a curious teen, longs to know about Haven and the secrets that her wealthy father might be hiding there. Both Lyra and Gemma are sure that these are the only lives they’ve ever known. And yet both have snippets of memories—a decorated cup, an unusual statue—that don’t quite fit. When an explosion destroys Haven, Lyra and another replica escape, and they soon connect with Gemma and her new friend Jake. As the four teens learn more about Haven and its terrible purpose, they find themselves chased across Florida by secret agents determined to silence them—and revisiting what they thought they knew about their own identities.
The ethics of biotechnology would be enough to make Replica a compelling read, but what truly makes it stand out is its narrative format: The book is arranged so that readers read one girl’s story and then must physically flip the book over to read the other’s. (In an author’s note, Lauren Oliver writes that each story can be read independently, or both can be read together in alternating chapters.) The two stories intersect, with mysteries in one solved by information in the other. Part adventure story, part narrative experiment and part reflection on what it means to be human, Replica forms a cohesive and satisfying whole.
Jill Ratzan matches readers with books in a small library in southeastern Pennsylvania.