Series: Annex #1
Published by: Disney Hyperion on October 16, 2012
Genre: Dystopian, Mystery, Romance, Science Fiction, Young Adult
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Elysia is created in a laboratory, born as a sixteen-year-old girl, an empty vessel with no life experience to draw from. She is a Beta, an experimental model of a teenage clone. She was replicated from another teenage girl, who had to die in order for Elysia to exist.
Elysia's purpose is to serve the inhabitants of Demesne, an island paradise for the wealthiest people on earth. Everything about Demesne is bioengineered for perfection. Even the air induces a strange, euphoric high, which only the island's workers—soulless clones like Elysia—are immune to.
At first, Elysia's life is idyllic and pampered. But she soon sees that Demesne's human residents, who should want for nothing, yearn. But for what, exactly? She also comes to realize that beneath the island's flawless exterior, there is an under-current of discontent among Demesne's worker clones. She knows she is soulless and cannot feel and should not care—so why are overpowering sensations clouding Elysia's mind?
If anyone discovers that Elysia isn't the unfeeling clone she must pretend to be, she will suffer a fate too terrible to imagine. When her one chance at happiness is ripped away with breathtaking cruelty, emotions she's always had but never understood are unleashed. As rage, terror, and desire threaten to overwhelm her, Elysia must find the will to survive.
The first in a dazzlingly original science fiction series from best-selling author Rachel Cohn, "Beta "is a haunting, unforgettable story of courage and love in a corrupted world.
Beta was so much darker than I anticipated! If you’re looking for a light, interesting read about clones, look somewhere else. Beta has suicide, heartbreak, murder, drugs, rape, and slavery! WOW! Totally not what I expected, but I ended up loving it.
This book is incredibly hard to review because all the juicy bits that I want to talk about (whether to criticize or praise) happen at the end! The beginning is very interesting and does a fabulous job of setting up the world, but not much actually happens. For some people that may be a problem, but I enjoyed it immensely. But even so, it’s very hard to actually describe. We learn a lot about daily life and behaviour on this perfect island. Elysia slowly adapts to her new life and takes in her surroundings. Beta really made me think about the possibility of clones and what purpose they would serve in society.
Eventually, a love interest emerged. I honestly wasn’t a huge fan of it. I didn’t particularly like the guy and the romance in general seemed very rushed. On the one hand, the romance didn’t seem like it was meant to be a big part of the story, which would make the rushed romance a little more okay. But on the other hand, the romance caused Elysia to really change her outlook on life as a Beta, which suggests to me that the romance is actually very important! There were a lot of promises there were unresolved so surely it will play a huge role in the future books.
The end of the book is all kinds of intense. We get a huge onslaught of twists, turns, and new information… and even a love..square? I did like the new love interest quite a bit, but I didn’t like Elysia’s attitude towards it:
He is not my love. But he is an excellent solution.
She was basically saying, “He’s not the guy I’m in love with, but as long as he’s here, available, and lusting over me, I might as well use him.” Not cool, Elysia!
There was one event towards the end that really came out of nowhere. On the one hand, it was really intense and kind of exciting.. but on the other hand, it seemed very rushed and random. There was no build up and no hinting—it just suddenly appears.
The ending… holy crap the ending. It was so.. conflicting. It was an ABSOLUTELY INSANE cliffhanger!! ..but it made absolutely no sense. I’m sure everything will be explained in the next book, but I’m not crazy about the cliffhanger because right now, considering everything that happened in the book, I can’t imagine how it’s even possible. Rather than being left with intense anticipation for the next book, I was just left with confusion. Of course I’m dying to see how Rachel Cohn manages to explain this, but I’m also frustrated by the fact that it’s literally not making any sense to me right now!
Except for the very strange love interest, I enjoyed the first three quarters of this book immensely. The world was fascinating and so exciting to read about! It was dark, gritty, sad, and disturbing, but that’s what made it an enjoyable read for me. If you don’t like darker, intense books then you may not enjoy it as much! It wasn’t until the last part of the book that I started to have some doubts.. But issues aside, I really enjoyed Beta and I will certainly be continuing with the series!