Two Girls, Two Stories


Replica by Lauren Oliver

Summary from author’s website:

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 bookcover_replicaindividuality, identity, and humanity. Replica is a “flip book” that contains two narratives in one. 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 a 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.


The ingenious way this book is put together was inspiring.  I really liked that I could read both narratives as individual stories.  I’m not a huge fan of the changing points of view in a story, but the way this one is set up, made it more enjoyable.  You are really reading the same story twice, but from different perspectives and you also get different parts of the same story.  The two main characters Gemma and Lyra don’t interact a whole lot in either side of the story, but seeing different pieces of the whole from different perspectives made the book that much more interesting.

I chose to read one story and then flip the book to the other side, instead of switching sides after each chapter.  From what I’ve seen in other reviews most people appear to be doing it this way.  I think reading one whole story first makes more sense, but I’m sure there are others out there that would disagree with me.  I started with Gemma’s story, because most reviews said this was the more interesting story.  In retrospect I think Lyra’s story would have been a better choice to read first, because you get a better idea of what is really going on.  Unfortunately, Gemma spends most of her story in the dark, trying to find the truth about herself and her family.  What happens on Lyra’s side does give away a few things about Gemma earlier than Gemma realizes them, so this may spoil her story a little.  I think if the next book is done the same way I will start with Lyra’s story and see if there is a difference.

As far as the characters go, both girls are well written and very different from each other. Both are very much influenced by their pasts, but both are courageous and determined to find out the truth.  The boy characters are a not as well written, but I think it would be interesting to hear some of the story from their perspectives as well. I also liked the fact that Gemma is not your typical heroine, she is not as confident about herself and how others perceive her as most characters like her usually are. I also appreciate that her appearance is described as less than perfect, but I think much more realistic of the average teenager. All together this is a stellar novel with a great plot and good solid characters.

Here is a video of Lauren Oliver talking about the book.  I like the part where she talks about how the story is like DNA with intertwining helixes.

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