30 October 2013

Beta

Author: Rachel Cohn
Series: Annex #1
Rating: 2.5 / 5 stars
Verdict: Bury

Beta started out as an interesting concept.  We are introduced to a "Beta" clone just as she is being awoken.  She is one of the first of her kind as a teenage clone, and we discover in order for a clone to survive, its "First" has to die.  Then I guess the First's memories are transplanted into the clone, but the clone - unlike the human First - does not have a soul.  While the Beta remembers the memories of its First and is loaded with a basic knowledge and vocabulary, the Beta still starts with the social characteristics of a young child.

The Beta that narrates this story, called Elysia, is sent to replace a family's dead daughter.  She gets to live in a perfect utopia of a world, although she soon discovers that this seemingly perfect world is anything but.  She spends the first part of the novel trying to acclimate herself with her surroundings, her new family members, the other teenagers on the island, and their behavior and vocabulary she isn't programmed with.

While the book can be classified as having sci-fi themes as it deals with cloning, I would hardly call it a sci-fi novel.  There is no interesting descriptions of the technology or really why the society has developed the way it has.  The clones seemingly just exist to cater to the whims of the humans who no longer want to work but somehow still make a living.

While the plot and the characters are interesting to start, it gets very cliche towards the middle and by the end I found myself hardly caring at all except for finishing the novel.  The plot lines become cliche, and the story begins to remind me of Twilight for some reason I cannot quite peg.  Of course, a love triangle has to be thrown in as well since it is a modern day YA novel.  While there was still one or two surprises left towards the end of the book, when it ended on the cliffhanger, I closed the cover and was ready to return the book to the library with no need to follow up on the Annex series again.

The biggest theme in the novel is that the clones are not as docile as the humans believe.  It is a "classic" A.I. issue where the clones become self aware and realize they have feelings and perhaps they don't want to be slave anymore.  But even with the "classic" plot line, Cohn's YA style of writing doesn't allow the story to take the plot very far, as it finds itself stuck in a pool of swallow, cliched water.

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