Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Beta - Rachel Cohn

Beta Rachel Cohn book cover
Beta by Rachel Cohn
Series: Annex #1
Publisher: Hyperion
Publication Date: October 16, 2012
Source/Format: BEA 2012 || ARC
[I received this book from the publisher. This in no way affects the opinions expressed in my review.]

Elysia is a Beta, an experimental creation, a teenage clone. Her purpose is to serve the people of Demesne, an island where perfection is key in every single aspect. While her life starts out idyllic, Elysia eventually finds herself confronted with real emotions and forced to decide what sort of life she might really want to lead.

It's always a pleasure to find myself liking a book more than I expected I would, which was the case with Beta. I had been hearing mixed things about it, but I can firmly say that I'm a fan of this new series. The world she's crafted is very imaginative, as are the characters that she's introduced. Though there were certainly a few moments that were much darker than I expected, overall, Beta really surpassed all of my expectations.

Demesne is supposed to be the ideal island getaway, where everything - from the air to the games - is perfect. Of course, as the book progresses, the perfection of just about everything starts to become eerie and a little bit creepy - it's a little too perfect that it feels like one mistake would cause you to get thrown out of there. While sometimes I would wish for a world as pristinely perfect as Demesne, another part of me realizes that it's unrealistic and too manufactured to be enjoyable for an entire lifetime.

The people who serve on the island are also supposed to be perfect, and that's where our Beta Elysia and others like her come in. Clones were created to serve the people on the island; they are not supposed to have their own independent thoughts and emotions. When Elysia starts realizing that she is different from the other clones, the story becomes a lot more interesting.

Initially, it was difficult to feel a connection to Elysia. This actually isn't unexpected, since she's supposed to be a clone, unfeeling and simply a servant. But once she started demonstrating more human qualities - like enjoying the tastes of things, or experiencing real emotions - I found it was easier to feel for her character. Her struggle to suppress her human tendencies was disheartening, as it sort of felt like she was being trapped in her own body. It was definitely easy to cheer for her when she started to fight back, to try to circumvent the way that life was supposed to be on the island.

The most interesting part of this book, apart from Elysia's own individual journey, is the idea of clones having rights. The characters in this book were divided between one extreme to the other, and it certainly made me question where I would stand if given the choice. There's no doubt that this conflict is going to be playing a huge role in the series, and I am certainly curious to see which side will triumph.

Beta is certainly a creative novel, combining a powerfully intriguing story with characters that you learn to love. It may take some time for you to really feel for Elysia and her kind, but once you do, the story will increase in its appeal. There are certainly darker moments (which was definitely unexpected), but they only add to the urgency and haste behind Elysia's choices. While not everyone is going to love this book, I certainly did and am looking forward to the sequel.

19 comments:

  1. Great review, Alexa! I've seen so many mixed reviews of this one as well, so it's nice to see someone really liking it! I will definitely have to give it a try. I haven't read too much Rachel Cohn, but I've read enough to know she's talented!

    Thanks for sharing!

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    1. I was worried I wouldn't like it, if I'm being honest. But I surprisingly enjoyed it. It was addictive and it was interesting!

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  2. Wow, this sounds incredible. I have seen the cover around but honestly I haven't even read the summary yet. But this sounds like something I would absolutely pick up to try and probably like.

    Great review, Alexa! I just added this to my to-read list. :)

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  3. This sort of reminds me of the movie "Equilibrium," in that those who start to feel human emotions are persecuted/thrown-out. I love the concept of perfection becoming something that's not the ideal. This book sounds really interesting and is definitely on my radar! So glad you enjoyed it!

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    1. That sounds like a really interesting movie! I'm definitely going to have to check it out :)

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  4. I'll be honest... I'm probably not going to read this book. It's not my thing. But I just wanted to comment on the fact that Rachel Cohn can flip flop between genres and I find that really brave and inspiring. :)

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    1. I think she did a great job! It's definitely a change for her, but it's a good one.

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  5. I've read a book where the point of view came from a clone. I like the idea, it's very interesting.

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  6. Great review. I always find the politics of cloning interesting. Adding this to my tbr pile.

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  7. This one seems slightly out of my comfort zone, but I always am pleasantly surprised when I read books out of that zone! I've been on the fence about this one, but am very glad to see you enjoyed it!

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  8. I'm glad you liked this. I've been reading a lot of mixed reviews on it, and was a little worried that my purchase might have been in vain.

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    1. Ah, not everyone connected with this book. But I certainly did! I hope you enjoy it too :)

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  9. I've heard pretty mixed things about this one too and don't think it's my kind of book but I'm so glad you enjoyed it! It does sound pretty creative. Wonderful review, Alexa. :)

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  10. Glad to hear you liked it! I bought this 3 weeks ago, and I'll be reading it on January. I fell in love with the cover, I hope what's inside is the same! Also, I have this event on my blog called OVEREXPOSED BOOK 2012, a book that has been talked about, featured, reviewed by almost every book blogger. You can vote your favorite YA book, and might win it! I thought you might be interested since you read YA. http://wp.me/p2Da8V-iH
    -
    Leigh
    Little Book Star

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  11. I liked this book a lot. I thought it brought up some very challenging ideas about the way we perceive beauty and a sense of self. I'm thinking about presenting this to my YA for Adults bok club....

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    1. Yes! That's definitely one of the things that really struck me while I was reading. I always enjoy finding books that challenge my perception of beauty, perfection and society's standards.

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  12. Hmmm...this sounds like The Island (the movie).
    I like the idea of clones and sci-fi is one of my favorite genres, so I might try this. It's just that I try not adding new series titles to my tbr pile as I'm already reading way too many. *sigh*

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    1. Having too many series to read is definitely a common book blogger problem ;)

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  13. Great review! I have the ebook and I've been meaning to read it for a while, so I'm glad to read a positive review of it.

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Thanks for leaving a comment! I love seeing what you have to say, and will try to reply (here or on Twitter) as soon as I can :)

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