Book Review: Replica by Lauren Oliver

cover93280-mediumReplica by Lauren Oliver

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction

Publishing Info: 2016 by Hodder & Stoughton

Pages: 520

Star Rating: 4/5

 

Back Cover Summary:

From Lauren Oliver, New York Times bestselling author of Before I Fall and the Delirium trilogy, comes an epic, masterful novel that explores issues of individuality, identity, and humanity. Replica is a “flip book” that contains two narratives in one, and it is the first in a duology. Turn the book one way and read Lyra’s story; turn the book over and upside down and read Gemma’s story. The stories can be read separately, one after the other, or in alternating chapters. The two distinct parts of this astonishing novel combine to produce an unforgettable journey. Even the innovative book jacket mirrors and extends the reading experience.

Lyra’s story begins in the Haven Institute, a building tucked away on a private island off the coast of Florida that from a distance looks serene and even beautiful. But up close the locked doors, military guards, and biohazard suits tell a different story. In truth, Haven is a clandestine research facility where thousands of replicas, or human models, are born, raised, and observed. When a surprise attack is launched on Haven, two of its young experimental subjects—Lyra, or 24, and the boy known only as 72—manage to escape.

Gemma has been in and out of hospitals for as long as she can remember. A lonely teen, her life is circumscribed by home, school, and her best friend, April. But after she is nearly abducted by a stranger claiming to know her, Gemma starts to investigate her family’s past and discovers her father’s mysterious connection to the secretive Haven research facility. Hungry for answers, she travels to Florida, only to stumble upon two replicas and 51yr30oxbwla completely new set of questions.

While the stories of Lyra and Gemma mirror each other, each contains breathtaking revelations critically important to the other story. Replica is an ambitious, thought-provoking masterwork.

 

 

As soon as I heard about Replica I knew I had to read it. Having the book told in two halves in a ‘flip book’ format sounded so original and interesting. I wanted to find out whether Lauren Oliver manages to pull off the concept. I read the book one story after the other, starting with Lyra’s. It’s interesting that you can read the book this way, or starting with Gemma’s story, or with alternating chapters (though that would require a lot of back and forth turning over of the book). One of my concerns was that it would be repetitive, having the same story told twice from two narrators, but there are actually only a few scenes that overlap between the stories so this isn’t a problem.

People being experimented on is a well-worn trope, but Oliver’s writing style and characters really pulled me in. I wanted to keep reading to find out what would happen next, and what was really going on with Haven. I liked the conspiracy theory and mystery element. Although it kept me hooked, much didn’t actually happen event and plot wise since the same time frame is told twice. If it were to cover a longer period of time though it would have been a massive book since it would be doubled, so I guess it wasn’t really possible to cover more ground.

The voices of the two narrators were definitely distinctive, which is good since that can be where multi-narrative books fall down. I liked both Lyra and Gemma as main characters. The supporting characters were also likeable. 72 was a bit stereotypically the quiet and dark kind of figure. Pete was quirky and a more unique and interesting character who I thought was refreshing and different to other YA male characters.

There were some teenage stereotypes and clichés that made me roll my eyes, but I felt it stepped away from those enough. There was enough about it that was unique and engaging to counteract my dislike of the YA clichés.

It certainly wasn’t perfect, but I absolutely loved reading it and was one of my favourite reads of the last year. It kept me engaged the whole way through. I can’t wait for the second book in the duology to come out (also, duology for once instead of a trilogy!).

Film Review: Passengers

passengers_ver2Film Review: Passengers

Release Date: 21st December 2016

Director: Morten Tyldum

Starring: Chris Pratt, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Sheen

Runtime: 116 minutes

Genre: Science-Fiction, Romance, Drama

Watched in: 2D

Rating: 3/5 stars

 

On a long journey to another planet, everyone on board is in stasis. Jim and Aurora wake up 90 years early, without the ability to contact anyone for help or return to sleep. They’re stuck with nowhere to go and only each other for company – besides the android barman played by Michael Sheen.

It wasn’t what I was expecting. Not in the good way as in it surprised me. As in, it was advertised in a way that made it seem like a different kind of film to what it actually was. The trailer and description makes it sound like a sci-fi action thriller flick with romance. When in fact it’s a romantic drama in a science-fiction setting, with a dash of action at the end. I liked the concept – two passengers wake up 90 years too early on a spaceship destined for a new planet. This is the base of the film and has a lot of potential as an idea. However, I wasn’t sure about the direction in which they took the film.

The digital effects are great with a creative design for the ship. Although the story is limited to this one space, and there were very few characters. The acting was good and Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence gel really well together. I liked that the film dealt with the psychological effects of being isolated on the ship, especially in the beginning of the film.

I went in expecting an action science-fiction thriller, which isn’t what I got. So it was disappointing from that point of view because I spent a lot of the film confused about how it could have been advertised as being so different to what it was. As a romantic drama set in space, it was good. There were some twists and turns. It was good and I enjoyed it but it had a lot of potential to be better. It’s a film that doesn’t know what it’s trying to be – it’s stuck between being a thought-provoking drama about serious moral issues, a romance, and a science-fiction action film.

Film Review: Rogue One

rogueone_onesheetaFilm Review: Rogue One

Release date: 15th December 2016

Director: Gareth Edwards

Starring: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Mads Mikkelsen, Riz Ahmed, Donnie Yen, Forest Whitaker, Jiang Wen

Runtime: 134 minutes

Genre: Science-Fiction

Watched in: 2D

Rating: 4/5 stars

 

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is a standalone film set before the original Star Wars film – Episode IV: A New Hope. It’s about a band of rebels who plan to steal the Death Star plans from the Empire. The film fills in what was thought by many as an annoying plot hole in the original trilogy. What was good about this film is that it has a different plot. As much as I love The Force Awakens, it was basically a rehash of plots from the original trilogy.

Unsurprisingly, the visuals are stunning. We see several different worlds in the film, each of which is unique and detailed. What is amazing is how they can now create characters digitally. For example Tarkin features (he was in the original films), although the actor who originally played him passed away. A similar looking actor played the part and then they used digital effects to make him look like Peter Cushing’s Tarkin.

The acting is good. There are some typically cheesy Star Wars lines of course. But then it wouldn’t be Star Wars without them. All of the actors made me like their characters and they all interacted well together. There are some intense scenes, with a long end battle. Despite all the action the actors developed their characters well.

I really liked the ending. I don’t want to spoil anything so can’t explain why I liked it. Also it tied well to the start of A New Hope.

As we’re not getting Episode VIII until December it was cool to still get to see a Star Wars film in 2016. Coming in 2018 is another Star Wars Story about a young Han Solo. I’m not quite sure how I feel about that one yet. Rogue One is relevant to the other films and leads up to Episode IV so I can see why they made it. The young Han Solo films however, will have to be good for me to agree that they’re worthwhile making.