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 undercurrent of discontent among Demesne's worker clones. She knows she is soulless and cannot feel and should not care--so why are overpowering sensations clouding 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 happiness 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.
Hardcover, 331 pagesPublished October 16th 2012 by Hyperion(info grabbed from GoodReads)
If this review was simply for the first 4/5 of Beta, it would be glowing. I felt that it was an interesting idea and was executed well. The voice of Elysia was perfect in that it began with the simple naivety and curiosity that you would expect of a newly emerged clone. As she learned about the world around her, her voice expanded and incorporated more emotion while still feeling authentically young. Because the voices are that of a teenager, the insta-love factor was forgivable in my opinion. She is depraved of real love by her owners and is a teenager; I felt that was a recipe for a girl to fall in insta-hormone-induced-love.
The other characters were all interesting and added to the story. It was really thought out how the family that bought her would treat her, and added to the creepy factor that any good dystopian has. The way the mother shows Elysia off as a prized pig to her friends while speaking badly about her own children truly was a bit sickening. A lot of those moments in the book reminded me of Wither by Lauren DeStefano, and I was going to recommend it to anyone who enjoyed that book.
Until the ending. ಠ_ಠ
I don’t have the faintest clue what the sequel could possibly be about because Beta ended going in fifty different directions. I felt like the ending was just slapped together in a pinch and simply threw every bad thing that could possibly happen all together. Its one thing to have bad things happen to a character, but with Beta, the ending was just a sucker-punch of awful. The pacing was way off in the ending, as everything seemed rushed. One second she’s here, and then she’s there, and then an “OMG” moment, then another “OMG” moment -- it added up to me going “WTF.” It was especially tiring because the rest of the book was nothing like that.
But, really, I did like Beta. At least everything before page 286 (out of 331). Before that point, I would have given it 4 out of 5 toadstools, and after I would give it 1 out of 5. As of now, I’m kind of torn as to whether I want to continue this series. I also feel I can’t really recommend it because the ending threw me through such a loop.
Final Thought: 3 out of 5 rounded generously up toadstools
This review is also posted on GoodReads