Beta (Beta #1)
Author: Rachel Cohn
Genres: sci-fi, dystopia, clones, chocolate
Source: ARC from Changing Hands
Rating: 3 stars.
Summary: In a world constructed to absolute perfection, imperfection is difficult to understand—and impossible to hide.
Elysia is a clone, 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 teenaged clone. She was replicated from another teenage girl, who had to die in order for Elysia to be created.
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 there induces a strange, euphoric high that only the island's workers—soulless clones like Elysia—are immune to.
At first, Elysia's new life on this island paradise is idyllic and pampered. But she soon sees that Demesne's human residents, the most privileged people in the world who should want for nothing, yearn. And, she comes to realize that beneath its flawless exterior, there is an undercurrent of discontent amongst 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 Elysia's one chance at happiness is ripped away from her 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.
Besides the cover, the first sentence grabbed me. That's always a good sign, because I tend to drop books within the first 30 pages or so, if it's not getting my interest. Maybe you'll like it too:
It's me she wants to purchase.
Keep in mind this is an ARC I'm quoting from, so of course it's subject to change. But it makes you want to know more, right? At least the urge to turn a page or two more.
I'm not sure how common knowledge this is, but the fleur-de-lis used to be what slaves were branded with in history. I just learned that from reading The Count of Monte Cristo. In Beta, clones are tattooed with that symbol on their right temple, to signify what they are; aka not human. On their other side, they get a species of flower depending on their position they were bought or created for. I think that's pretty creative, and thoughtful...(maybe that's not the nicest word?)
Elysia gets bought on the first page to be a companion. See, if you're a geek like me, the first thing you think of when the words companion, and bought are used together, is Inara. It's not like that. It's just like a playmate, or sibling, or daughter, depending on the family's dynamics you're bought into. It's a high class for a clone to become rather than server, masseuse, or maid/butler. In Elysia's case, she is all three, a playmate for Liesel, a sibling for Ivan, and a daughter for her new mother.
The whole world building and concept are pretty awesome. It's sci-fi filled with innovative technology at every angle, constantly. That's what kept me reading it, because the characters themselves, all of them, I didn't like a single bit. Sad, but true.
MC/love interest- Uh INSTALOVE. I am completely against instalove. Nothing about it is relatable or realistic, and I usually end up grinding my teeth through the whole relationship. So the romance between Elysia and Tahir (think flat Stanley) isn't completely awful, but I am easily admitting I didn't enjoy it one bit. Also, every aspect of their relationship is predictable. Elysia was pretty cool until she met him, all curious and wondering how life is, and I liked her (only her) until the point where she meets Tahir and bam: "Oh my god, I know I don't have a soul or feelings or anything, but I think I'm in love with this random dude, and I need to sleep with him NOW." Isn't that attractive? Not.
Supporting characters? Awful. Maybe because they were supposed to be awful human beings, and treat her like dirt, but I couldn't get past how stupid and spoiled they acted. All similarly too, so not much distinction between them. I think it's good for the mood of the story, but out of place in normal character development.
Also, never having read any of her books before, I'm sorry to say I didn't like the author's writing style. The sentences were awkward at best, and ended up plain weird sometimes. There were a couple of laugh-out-loud moments...but that's it.
The ending: Nearing the ending, maybe the last 40 pages, is where I really enjoyed the story. Exciting and unpredictable events happen, that for once I didn't see coming. Then I hit a lull at the almost-ending, but when the final ending came, last pages and the complete end, it had quite a cool cliffy, and now I just have to keep going in the series. If it weren't for that, I don't think I would have continued to the next book.
I don't usually put a content rating, but I think Beta deserves one: sex, drug abuse, and language. and a LOT of each. Well, maybe not so much language. It was all a little too much for me though, honestly.
Overall, this book is OKAY. I expected more, and got something kind of completely different. Had potential and seriously the concept is really great, but Beta fell short with the crappy romance, and how that part effected all of the other awesomeness. It tainted the plot. I'm not sure I would recommend it to my friends, but Beta might be worth a shot if you like the genre.