Beta by Rachel Cohn
Release Date: October 16, 2012
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Genre: YA Clones/Sci Fi
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Elysia is a new beta, one of the first trial teenage clones. She is sold to the Bratton family to be a replacement for their daughter Astrid who moved away. Elysia is to play with her new "brother and sister" Ivan and Liesel. She must also call the woman who bought her "mother." Clones are made and sold to work on the island. They have different tattoos on their face according to their jobs. They have no feelings so the drugged air does not affect them and they will work hard. Demesne's island has separate rules from the rest of the world but there are people that protest clones and the island.
Elysia enjoys her new life until she begins remembering things from her clones life, and she starts tasting, and feeling. If anyone found out she was a Defect she would be destroyed. Elysia hides her love of chocolate and her feelings. She has memories to access but still has to learn slang and about the world. Owners don't want their clones to feel and rebel. Elysia likes hanging out with Ivan and Liesel and then she meets Ivan's friend Tahir and wants more. She wants to be with him. The Bratton family loan Elysia out to Tahir's family and they have more in common than she thought but she also can't stop thinking about her clone's lover. Elysia's clone, Zhara, had to die in order for Elysia to be created. In this world sometimes people even offer to die for money so clones can be made. Very disturbing.
Tahir was an interesting character but at times kind of boring. I didn't fully understand why Elysia loved him. She was attracted to him but he was cut off and distant from his accident. Elysia was determined to make him feel for her the way she felt for him. It seemed like it was only a physical attraction. I guess she is a clone and doesn't understand love yet but I felt like she shouldn't have to work so hard to make something work. He does have a backstory that allows things to come together between them. I just never felt too connected to his character but I felt bad for his situation. The clone characters were always interesting but just kind of hard to connect with. There was some humor in their naivety and when Elysia was learning slang.
The family that bought Elysia don't seem too evil at first. But as we see the way they treat clones I slowly began to hate them. There were some very disturbing scenes where clones are used for sexual things. I should warn there is also a scene where Elysia is forced as well. The world building of the island was different. It is for only the richest of the rich. The entire island is meant to be so relaxing and luxurious that even the water is drugged and calming. Even with the entire island being a drug the citizens still also take a drug called raxia. That was beyond crazy. The book held my attention but the treatment of the clones was very sad and disturbing. There are some Defect clones that are planning a rebellion but we don't learn too much about it in this book, it mostly revolves around Elysia learning and growing. There is a shocking cliffhanger.
"But surely this chocolate provides it; I think I love it even more than that stupendous concoction called macaroni and cheese. I want to round up all the chocolate souffles on the dinner table and devour every one."
"Lambs here are created from the poorest people. They voluntarily sacrifice their lives to be turned into clones."
"I can't imagine why they would do that."
"They do it to provide financially for their loved ones after their soul extractions."
"Sarcasm: well mimicked. But no, something even more exciting. I'm trying to make my own 'raxia."
"Why? Is not the kind you illegally obtain satisfactory?"
"Tahir!" Ivan exclaims. Ivan and the lone figure called Tahir do the 'bro fist-and-shoulder-bump thing indigenous to the Whoa! species.
"She gave him her heart and he walked all over it." Dementia pauses while I try to image Tahir placing his foot on Astrid's beating heart.
I shrug. These humans and their guessing games are starting to annoy me.
"He is so tall and so-freaking-gorgeous. I totally get why she was obsessed with him. I data check this horrible sensation and discover what it is. Swooning is what I am experiencing for this man I just a moment ago so impulsively slapped.
"I am given no choice about where I would like to go, or how I am just told. More and more, I understand why human teenagers become rebellious. It must be so they can take control of their own lives."