Replica by Jack Heath
|Replica by Jack Heath|
|Reviewer: Samantha Lyon|
|Summary: Replica is a fantastic example of why more and more adults are buying and reading young adult fiction. The plot is fascinating, fast-paced, and saturated with ethical dilemmas.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 219||Date: August 2014|
|Publisher: Oxford University Press|
|External links: Author's website|
There is a tendency for adults to feel embarrassed about reading young adult fiction, but this book demonstrates that a focus on a younger character shouldn’t prevent a wider audience from enjoying a good story. Replica is a strange and compelling combination of action, mystery, thriller and science-fiction. Heath has even included a hint of a romance. There is something for everyone and although the book raises some challenging and thought-provoking problems, the text is easy-to-read, immersive and unpretentious.
The book hooks you from the first sentence – I can't move my legs, and from the very first chapter, the book maintains just the right pace to keep you reading for hours on end. If you had the time, you could certainly read it in less than a day and it would keep you entertained the whole time. Without revealing too much about the plotline, the book centres around a ‘replica’, which is essentially an extremely lifelike robot with software developed by an online community which causes it to think and feel like a human being. This replica is instructed to take the place of a teenager – Chloe – while she goes off on a mission of her own.
The book is peppered with moral questions regarding artificial intelligence, and how advanced a robot needs to be before it is more human than object. The reader is forced to question whether it is ethical to make a synthetic, complex being feel pain and grief. We also deliberate on issues such as whether robots should receive the same rights as humans, when we design them specifically to be a carbon copy of us. The story is told from the point of view of a machine, but the replica's thought processes and reactions are so human-like that we definitely empathise with the character and feel real affection for her. She is strong, perceptive and loyal to the people she thinks of as friends and family. The fact that the replica is a machine merely adds an element of danger and suspense to the book, as the possibility of detection is a constant threat.
The dialogue is natural and the evolution of the story is effortless. There are certain twists and turns throughout that are exciting, but there are just enough well-placed clues laid out for the reader so that you can anticipate the twists, if you are paying enough attention. Although it is not the premise or the focus of the story, a subtle and touching romance emerges, adding yet another complication for the replica; how does she know that her feelings are real? Heath does a fantastic job of making us feel for these characters, synthetic as well as human, but also keeps us on our toes and makes us question who we can trust.
The ending of the book might rub some people the wrong way. It comes across as a bit abrupt, but given the events leading up to the conclusion, is also feels like the appropriate ending. Some might find the ending slightly heart-breaking and be left hoping for another book. The last page certainly paves the way for a sequel, which is always a popular move with young adult fiction.
If you are hooked on the best of young adult fiction, you have an incredible selection to choose from. Divergent by Veronica Rothis a real page-turner and like 'Replica', centres on a strong and determined female character. There are plenty more young adult books with compelling, dystopian themes, including The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.
You can read more book reviews or buy Replica by Jack Heath at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
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