Beta by Rachel Cohn

Annex, Book 1

Synopsis: 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 cloud-ing 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 happi-ness 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.

Review: After reading many opinions dedicating the merits of this book, I was really curious to learn more.

We discover in this novel the Demesne Island, a very strange and different place. Indeed, everything has been modified to meet the multiple needs of people who can afford to pay for a stay. And for this, the very air was changed to be of better quality, that is to say having a large amount of oxygen content, something that is known to relax and make people happy. But everything is done to have this kind of impact. Whether the lightness of the water, the beautiful scenery or the chocolate culture. But there is something more, something that makes it even more special. This is the only island to manufacture and produce human clones, used from people recently died. These beings are supposed to be obedient, no emotions, no taste, just desperate to do their best regarding the function assigned to them. But here appears in this world, Elysia. This is one of the first beta versions, a teenager. No one has ever had the opportunity to test a young girl as all other models are already adults. So when a woman wants to buy her to use her as a companion, that is to say, as a “daughter”, Elysia is more than happy to leave the store where she was waiting for something to happen. She will discover the world and what it hides.

It was really interesting to see through the eyes of Elysia how Demesne was governed. Our heroine quickly understands that she is not like the other clones and her differences could well lead to her loss. She will, however, continue her life, evolving, learning, discovering feelings and she hopes one day to be free. I loved this character, she is so naive at the beginning of the novel. She only seeks to understand the world and to participate in it. And even if the people she lives with consider her as their “daughter”, it is just a word, and everyone’s feelings towards the clones will not change. It’s quite sad to see to see that they all fear the Defaulted, these clones who have derived from their tasks, the ones who are beginning to feel, to want, to change. But Elysia will do anything to be accepted.

Starting the novel I’ve been thinking of a movie, The Island. A movie several years old but left with a similar idea. I loved this little novel, it is intriguing to know the intricacies of this world and the characters presented to us. Everyone is hiding something and lies to protect their secret. We will learn little by little the true and I admit that there are revelations that I did not really expect. At the end of the book I was actually quite surprised (although I had made that assumption) and it is true that I am now curious to see what will happen to our characters.





17 thoughts on “Beta by Rachel Cohn

  1. This reminds me of a couple of books that I didn’t have good reactions to. This genre, more specifically a plot like this, has to be done without holes. It looks like something I’d read, but I’m apprehensive at the same time. Glad that you enjoyed it.

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