by Lauren Oliver
Two girls from very different backgrounds find autonomy, strength, and identity as they fight against corporate greed and medical corruption.
Gemma was born to rich and powerful parents. Lyra was made in a lab. Both white girls have spent their lives protected behind walls: Gemma, under her parents’ watchful eyes, and Lyra, under the care of nurses at the Haven Institute. The latter has always known she’s a replica, a clone created by doctors from human stem cells. The heavily guarded Haven Institute’s activities are shrouded in mystery and speculation, and when an explosion destroys the facility, both girls’ carefully formed worlds topple in the aftermath. Events unfold quickly as Gemma and Lyra learn they’re not who they thought they were, that the truth goes much deeper than either ever thought. The dual narrative is presented as two books in one; it’s up to readers to decide how to proceed: read each girl’s story separately or in alternating chapters. There are very few characters of color: Caelum, another replica and key secondary character, is described as “mixed race”; Gemma’s Latina best friend has two high-powered moms. Deep-rooted racial and ethnic inequality is hinted at in the “birthers,” the dark-skinned women who carry and give birth to replicated babies and don’t speak English. Gemma’s fatness is a source of embarrassment, but, unusually, she grows emotionally without losing weight.
A reading experience not to be missed—or forgotten. (Science fiction. 15 & up)
Pub Date: Oct. 4th, 2016
Page count: 544pp
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 2016