Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Book Review: Beta by Rachel Cohn

Title: Beta
Author: Rachel Cohn
Genre: Teen Fiction, Science Fiction
Publication Date: October 16, 2012
Publisher: Hyperion
ISBN Book: 978-1423157199
Format: Book
FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book for committee work.  This is my honest review.

Beta (Annex, #1)Beta by Rachel Cohn
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Summary:

Elysia is a beta. She is a clone. She was created when another sixteen year old died, and is used to be a companion on the island of Demesne. She serves the family who purchased her, and does their bidding. Clones aren’t supposed to have feelings, want things, enjoy pleasures such as eating or swimming. Her job is to serve, that is what she is programmed to do. But something is wrong with her programming, because Elysia loves the taste of food, she is a natural athlete and loves being in the water, she has feelings, and she has doubts. And in the end, serving isn’t what she wants for herself. She wants more and even worse she remembers things about the life of the girl she was cloned from, but she is a clone and if the family that owns her finds out what she wants or what she remembers, she will be labeled a Defect and destroyed.

Review:

This was a surprisingly quick read. The setting is an island paradise for only the wealthiest people in the world. Because these wealthy people need servants, and human ones might be too tempted by the lifestyle to serve and not want more, they have created clones to serve the wealthy residents. Clones can be purchased and at the very beginning of the novel, that is exactly what happens to Elysia. She is purchased by the governor of the island’s wife, as a companion to the family.

As you can imagine connecting to the character who is supposedly an unfeeling clone can be difficult for the reader. Elysia isn’t truly unfeeling, but she is a bit of a distant narrator that makes it tricky to understand her or her motivations. Once you get used to her though, you find her to be likable, and also a bit calculating. She knows more than she should, she feels more than she should.

At first her life serving her new family seems to be relatively happy. The family approves of her, and encourages her to be one of them. It seems like a cushy gig. Unfortunately there is a much darker side to this family that is slowly revealed throughout the course of the book.

I enjoyed the story and the plot line. The pacing was quick and the book is interesting. It is science fiction, and that tends to be a genre I favor. Overall it was an interesting read, but I just couldn’t cross from “like it” over to the “love it” category. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it was just missing something, and was a bit too predictable in places. I was left with a lot of questions that remained unanswered and really wanted to know more of the back story.

While I did enjoy the book, and can see it appealing to teens, you will want to save this one for your mature readers. The teens in the book use a lot of drugs. Sex is openly discussed and there is a rape. If there was a hot button topic, this book tried to hit it.

Overall:

This book is an interesting science fiction novel, with an interesting premise. I think I will definitely be checking out the sequel because I think it has some serious possibilities and I am dying of curiosity after the major cliffhanger. I am also hoping I will get some of the answers to the questions I have about the back story.

Cautions for Sensitive Readers:

Sex: Yes, including a rape.
Language: Some
Drugs/Alcohol: Yes
Violence: Yes


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