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BETA by Rachel Cohn


by Rachel Cohn

Age Range: 14 - 18

Pub Date: Oct. 16th, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-4231-5719-9
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

When humans live in paradise, the servants must be manufactured—but are they still people?

Elysia is born fully formed, a gorgeous, fuchsia-eyed 16-year-old cloned from a dead human progenitor, her First. On Demesne, an idyllic island, the humans are socialites and surfers, with emotionless clones to serve their every whim. Elysia doesn’t feel emotionless, but then, she is a Beta, one of the first of an experimental new line of teenage clones; maybe she’s defective. Bought to be a companion to the wife of the island’s governor, Elysia finds dark undercurrents among the theoretically perfectly happy humans, but she’s too self-centered to care all that much. Instead, she’s more concerned with the dreamy human boy she’s somehow falling for, as well as the memories of her First she knows she’s not supposed to have. Elysia’s robotic nature is inconsistent: She sometimes uses metaphors only to misunderstand similar terminology with humorous literalness soon thereafter. Her teenage idiom could be attributed to programmed adolescence, but it works less well for the adult clone who declares “Bummer!” in a training video or the bored human socialite who whines “Bo-o-o-ring!” The childish language and narrative outlook result in a disturbing if effective dissonance with eventual sexual violence.

Though neither the villains nor the heroes make particularly sensible choices, the cliffhanger ending will still lure some into the promised sequel. (Science fiction. 14 & up)