Published by Tor Teen, the print edition is 368 pages.
REPLICA is the first book in a new YA SciFi series by author Jenna Black. The second book in the trilogy, RESISTANCE, is slated for release on March 11, 2014.
Breathtaking new YA SF from the author of the Faeriewalker series
Sixteen-year-old Nadia Lake comes from a high-class Executive family in the Corporate States. Her marriage has been arranged with the most powerful family in her state, which means she lives a life of privilege but also of public scrutiny, followed everywhere by photographers, every detail of her private life tabloid fodder. But her future is assured, as long as she can maintain her flawless public image — no easy feat when your betrothed is a notorious playboy.
Nathan Hayes is the heir of Paxco — controller of the former state of New York, and creator of human replication technology, science that every state and every country in the world would kill to have. Though Nadia and Nate aren’t in love, they’ve grown up close, and they (and the world) are happy enough with their match.
Until Nate turns up dead, and as far as everyone knows, Nadia was the last person to see him alive.
When the new Nate wakes up in the replication tanks, he knows he must have died, but with a memory that only reaches to his last memory backup, he doesn’t know what killed him. Together, Nadia and Nate must discover what really happened without revealing the secrets that those who run their world would kill to protect.
REPLICA is the first book in a promising new series by author Jenna Black. A story that combines a futuristic, dystopian setting and a murder mystery with elements of science fiction, make for an incredibly engaging read.
Told from the dual perspectives of Nadia, a member of Paxco’s Executive class and Nate, the Chairman Heir of Paxco, the plot centers around Nate’s murder and his and Nadia’s attempt to solve the crime.
As Nadia tries to come to grips with her future husband’s death and his rebirth as a Replica, she is forced to decide whether to become a spy and betray him or risk her future and her family’s lives. While the choice should be an easy one, as the risk to Nate would be small, she doesn’t want to lose the only real friend she has. And if she gives in to Mosely’s threats, she knows that Nate would never forgive her and her future with him would be over. It’s a lose-lose no matter what she decides.
When Nate wakes as a Replica and discovers that he has been murdered, he can hardly believe it. Aside from the missing two weeks of memories that led up to his death, he feels exactly like himself. At least he thinks he does. What’s even more of a shock is that the person he loves has been accused of the crime. And with the overwhelming evidence against him, it seems Bishop may actually be guilty.
But even if he isn’t, he was the last person to see Nate. He is the only one that could have answers about what happened. And finding those answers is the only way that Nate will be able to move on. He just has to find Bishop before Mosely does. And in a city where every move he makes is monitored it might prove impossible.
Jenna Black sets her story in a city that is set up like a corporation, with a Chairman, Executives, Employees and those in the Basement not deemed worthy to exist. In her future society those at the top struggle for power and those at the bottom struggle to survive. All of which provides an interesting backdrop to this story and sets the stage for future conflict in this series.
While REPLICA is billed as science fiction, the story itself does not delve too deeply into the genre. The science of replication is only briefly touched upon as are the moral and philosophical issues it presents. And despite its futuristic setting in what was once New York City, it feels very much a story set in the present day. From the characters’ clothing to the methods of transportation to the technology, the society’s advancements seem to mirror today’s.
As this is just the first book in a series and other elements germane to the genre present themselves at the story’s end, it is likely there will be more of a science-fiction focus in future books.
But for those readers who enjoy a mystery, a story told in alternating points of view, a city whose citizens are on the verge of rebellion, characters who run the gamut from brave and loyal, to timid and subservient, to arrogant and self-centered, to power-hungry and malicious, and for those who aren’t in need of a love story, REPLICA delivers a captivating read.
Reviewer gives this book…
On a personal note…
I really liked REPLICA by author Jenna Black. Then again I’m not sure there is anything she could write that I wouldn’t like. She creates stories that are just so easy to get caught up in and the same was true for this first book in her new series.
I am not a science fiction fan when it comes to books so I liked that this story wasn’t heavily sci-fi based. I did think there would have been a little bit more of the science when it came to the Replicas so I was somewhat surprised that the scientific aspect only played a small part in this story.
I think I actually would have enjoyed reading a bit more about their creation. Though I did like the moral aspects that were lightly touched upon in this first book. I also liked the somewhat dystopian feel to the setting with the elitist ruling class, the working class and those in the Basement.
The disparity between classes seems like it will continue to be a major factor as the series progresses, given the title of the next book. But even though each of these elements played a part, most of this story revolved around solving a murder.
I don’t want to go into too many details about that, as I’d be revealing some fairly significant spoilers if I did. But I enjoyed following along as Nadia and Nate searched for the one person who could have answers about what happened.
Nadia was a likable character who grew even more likable as the story progressed. She might not have been so likable if Nate’s murder had never happened. But it did and she rose to the challenge, becoming an incredibly strong character.
I was not a fan of Nate until the very end. He was so unbelievably self-centered that it was hard for me to connect with the story at times when it switched to his point of view. I liked him so little that I didn’t sympathize with his plight and I found his actions frustrated me to no end one moment and disinterested me at another.
And while he may have started taking baby steps toward being a decent person, I still wonder if that was due to some Replica programming and that had the “real” Nate survived, he would have been the complete jerk introduced briefly at the beginning.
What I liked most about this story, aside from what was touched upon at the end that the sequel promises, is the fact that Jenna Black didn’t add in a love story to fulfill some expectation. I was glad that their arranged marriage didn’t become one from a fairytale. Though I wish the description had been bold enough to reveal who Nate was in love with and why he and Nadia would never be more than just friends.
But that aside, I thought the author touched upon some interesting topics like mortality and immortality, morality and science, abuses of power and a society living under a classist regime.
REPLICA was a very quick read with a female protagonist that I adored, a male protagonist that I grudgingly tolerated by the story’s end, a couple secondary characters who I’m still debating as to whether they are trustworthy and a couple who are just plain evil. The mystery is engaging, the premise is fascinating, the ending is all sorts of exciting and the epilogue makes me anxious as to what lies ahead.
There are a couple passages that I absolutely loved, but as they reveal something about the direction the story is headed, I thought it would be wise to keep those to myself. This early passage is one that makes me smile….
“You looked like you could use a rescue, “Nate said, and Nadia felt a flash of gratitude. “Besides,” he continued, “I don’t need an ulterior motive to dance with the most beautiful girl in the room.”
Nadia snorted, an undignified sound she was glad no one but Nate could hear. “Yeah, because you’re such a ladies’ man.”
Nate laughed, and she smiled at him ruefully.