“Replica” is an unusual book in a very physical sense: both covers show one butterfly wing, but one side says ‘Gemma’ and the other says ‘Lyra’. These are the two protagonists of the book, and their stories meet in the middle. Given this, there’s really three ways to read the book: start with Gemma and then read Lyra, start with Lyra and then read Gemma, or alternate, flipping the book over to swap perspectives. I chose the latter, and I expect I’ll do so again for the sequel, “Ringer”. Gemma is an only child, living with her very wealthy family in Chapel Hill; but Gemma knows very well that money can’t buy happiness, as evidenced by her lifetime of health issues, her parents’ extreme over-protectiveness, and the misery her classmates put her through for not being model-thin. (Gemma’s body issues are a recurring theme- she is repeatedly disgusted by being fat, which may be hard for some readers to deal with.) She has one friend, April, and a dream: to go to Florida over Spring Break like every normal teenager. Lyra’s life is very different; she is a resident of the Haven Institute, and she is a replica. That is, a clone. Like all of the other replicas, she lives a circumscribed life; and like the others, she is sick. Her understanding of the world is limited, and so too are her aspirations- all she wants is to live, and to read. It’s an engaging story, and I repeatedly got caught up in one perspective and had to flip the book and catch up with the other. I could have done with a little less in the way of romantic preoccupation on Gemma’s part, and I don’t love how that turned out, but overall it’s a good, quick read.

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