Friday, December 17, 2021

Review: Replica by Lauren Oliver


Goodreads Overview:


From a distance, the Haven Institute, tucked away on a private island off the coast of Florida, looks serene and even beautiful. But up close the locked doors, military guards, and biohazard suits tell a different story. In truth, it is a clandestine research facility where thousands of replicas, or human models, are born, raised, and observed.

But when a surprise attack is launched on Haven, two of its young experimental subjects—Lyra, or 24, and the boy known only as 72—manage to escape. As they make their way through a new and menacing environment, they meet a stranger named Gemma, who has embarked on a perilous quest of her own. And as Lyra tries to understand Haven’s purpose, she uncovers earth-shattering secrets that will change the lives of both girls.


Gemma has been in and out of hospitals her whole life. A sickly child, she has grown into a lonely adolescent whose life is circumscribed by home, school, and her best friend, April.

But after she is nearly abducted by a stranger claiming to know her, Gemma starts to investigate her family’s past and discovers her father’s mysterious connection to the secretive Haven research facility. Hungry for answers, she travels to Florida, only to stumble upon two human models, or replicas, 24 and 72—and a completely new set of questions. As Gemma tries to unravel the mysteries of Haven, she learns terrible truths about herself and her family that will threaten to destroy everything she loves.

Two girls, two stories, one novel.

While the stories of Gemma and Lyra mirror each other, each contains revelations critically important to the other story. Their narratives can be read separately or in alternating chapters.


I picked up a copy of this book at BEA several years ago and just now got around to reading it. I had already read Oliver's Delirium series, Panic, and Rooms, so I was familiar with her work. This is quite different from anything else I have ever read because it is essentially two stories in one.

 I decided to read it by alternating between the two stories. I definitely think that is the way to go because the stories overlap. I think it would have felt redundant to read the second story after completing the first when you already know what is going to happen. There is additional detail, which makes it worthwhile if you alternate chapters, but it just as easily could have been condensed and had alternating narrators like many authors do. As it was, you had to read one chapter, mark your page, flip the book over, read a chapter, mark your page, etc. The book ended in the middle of the physical book when the two stories converged.

This book explains what was going on at Haven, the history behind the research, and shows how the children were impacted and treated in the facility. They were nothing more than a number and were not given the emotional and physical support a child needs to grow and mature. They were locked up on an island and had no idea what existed in the rest of the world. When the facility is destroyed by an explosion, Lyra and 24 are forced to work together. They cross paths with Gemma, who looks exactly like another replica Lyra knows, but she doesn't seem to realize this and has clearly been living outside of Haven. None of them trusts each other, but Gemma wants answers she hopes the replicas can provide and the replicas do not have the skills or resources to survive on their own.

The scientists will do anything to keep what was going on at Haven a secret, but Gemma is determined to uncover the truth and get the replicas to safety. We don't really get to see what happens after the initial escape, so I am excited to see there is another book in the series. While this isn't my favorite book by Lauren Oliver, it was still entertaining and I am invested enough in the characters to continue with the series.

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Review: All the Tides of Fate by Adalyn Grace


Goodreads Overview:

Through blood and sacrifice, Amora Montara has conquered a rebellion and taken her rightful place as queen of Visidia. Now, with the islands in turmoil and the people questioning her authority, Amora cannot allow anyone to see her weaknesses.

No one can know about the curse in her bloodline. No one can know that she’s lost her magic. No one can know the truth about the boy who holds the missing half of her soul.

To save herself and Visidia, Amora embarks on a desperate quest for a mythical artifact that could fix everything―but it comes at a terrible cost. As she tries to balance her loyalty to her people, her crew, and the desires of her heart, Amora will soon discover that the power to rule might destroy her.


I received the first book in this series, All the Stars and Teeth, in one of my Owlcrate book boxes. I really enjoyed the story and was pleased with how it concluded in this installment.

This time around Amora is determined to break her curse and restore her magic. To disguise her real agenda, she sets out on a tour of the islands to find a husband. The entire charade is ludicrous since she is already in love with Bastian, but she will not admit that even to herself. Amora gathers the crew together from last time, with a few notable additions to bolster their magical talents. 

For the majority of the book Amora is haunted by the death of her father, even though he was far from the type of leader she hopes to be. She is very naive and falls victim to a couple of attacks from her subjects that no longer want to be ruled by a monarchy. While she believes she can be a better ruler than her father and wants to help her people, she constantly considers what she would do if she had the opportunity to bring him back to life. The pressure is more than she wants to endure and, in my opinion, she is looking for the easy way out.

Lies and deception put a lot of strain on the relationships of the crew. Once everything is out in the open, there are some hurt feelings, but they need to work together if they have any chance of breaking the curse. I was shocked by the ending, but it really was the only way things could have worked out in the end. I was happy to see that this was only a duology and Adalyn didn't try to stretch it into a trilogy. There was plenty of content and action to keep readers engaged, but an additional book likely would have fallen short of expectations. I wish more authors would follow suit when there simply isn't enough content to justify an additional book in a series.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Review: Just One Day by Gayle Forman

Goodreads Overview:

When sheltered American good girl Allyson "LuLu" Healey first meets laid-back Dutch actor Willem De Ruiter at an underground performance of Twelfth Night in England, there's an undeniable spark. After just one day together, that spark bursts into a flame, or so it seems to Allyson, until the following morning, when she wakes up after a whirlwind day in Paris to discover that Willem has left. Over the next year, Allyson embarks on a journey to come to terms with the narrow confines of her life, and through Shakespeare, travel, and a quest for her almost-true-love, to break free of those confines.


Just One Day has been on my TBR list since 2014. I loved If I Stay and Where She Went by Gayle Forman, so I was pretty sure I would love this series as well. I'm not sure what took me so long to read it, but I'm certainly glad that I did.

Allyson receives a European vacation as her high school graduation present from her parents. It wasn't what she had hoped for until she has one magical day in Paris with Willem De Ruiter, an actor she meets at a street performance of Twelfth Night. When he is nowhere to be found the next morning, she assumes the worst of him. 

She returns to the United States and goes off to college to fulfill her Mother's dream of becoming a doctor. Her first semester of school is a disaster. She is not interested in her classes, has very poor grades, and isn't fitting in socially. She is consumed by what happened in Paris and simply can't put it behind her. She is depressed and the book drags as a result. When the guidance counselor convinces her to take a class on Shakespeare and some other electives outside of the pre-med curriculum, she finally begins to find her place and the book takes off again. She meets Dee, who is a drag queen, and begins to form her first real friendship on campus. She eventually opens up about what happened and the two begin searching the internet for a way to contact Willem. She needs to know what really happened so she can move on with her life.

Very little turns up, so she decides to get a summer job. She saves enough money to return to Paris to continue her search for clues. Just when her quest appears to have gone bust, she finds a glimmer of hope. Perhaps Willem didn't just disappear after all. 

The ending was very abrupt with a bunch of unanswered questions left hanging in the balance. I can hardly wait to read Just one Year to get Willem's take on the events that took place that day in Paris and to see what he went through this past year.