Rating: 0.5 stars
Series: Replica, Book 1
First, I would like to note that there is not a spoiler section in this review as I do not believe that the innards of the book deserve an in-depth discussion. I apologize if anyone cares to read about the specific instances of the issues I’ve found in this story, but I don’t believe they merit the time or energy to elaborate on.
While I have nothing against YA dystopian novels, this book was a poor excuse for one. I don’t know if the book just didn’t age well, but it was originally published in 2013. A book should not be dated in its references and downfalls after just 6 years. While it is true that as a society we have progressed greatly in our understandings of what should be acceptable to read/write/say, a good book survives over time because it is not filled with problematic things. To me, that says that this was not a well written book.
As this book supposedly takes place in the future, I don’t think that a person should be able to find so many faults with the book based on the year that it was written/published. While this was a time when dystopian novels were extremely popular, that just shows me that this story could have been written much better. Heck, there were so many better dystopian novels that were written around the time that Replica was published.
Over this blog, I have been vocal about my reluctance to finish this book but my unwillingness to DNF it. I find it difficult to DNF a book when I’m reading it for myself, but I also believed that if I was having so many issues with this story than other people probably do as well. I felt that I could not give my full thoughts on the book unless I had finished it, so I pushed through and read the full thing. I do not recommend for anyone else go do the same.
One of my biggest issues with the book is that it feels extremely long but in reality it’s not. The chapters seem to go on forever without giving anything of substance to the reader. I felt like most of this story is filler, which is not good for the first book in a series, let alone the first book in a trilogy where the author does not have an infinite amount of time to get their ideas across.
The first chapter alone is 25 pages in length and that does not improve for a long time in the book. The first 15 chapters took up 268 pages in a book that contained 25 chapters and an epilogue. This means that the final 10 chapters (plus the epilogue) only took up 97 pages. As this is the part of the story where the action actually begins, there was a lot of useless “information” that the readers needs to wade through in order to get to anything worth reading.
While I usually find myself enjoying large chapters like the ones found in Replica, I need them to be done well and cohesively. I do not believe that the chapters in this book were cohesive in the slightest. Jumping between perspectives can be done well in a chapter, but that cannot be said for Replica. Personally, I prefer any perspectives within the same chapter to be dealing with the related information, not two people living independent threads of the story. I believe that these instances should be covered throughout different chapters as a way to signify a break in the topic or issue at hand. This is also a better way to build suspense for a reader. Jumping between characters that are doing very separate things from each other detracts from the story instead of adding to it.
Another issue I had with this book was the amount of redundancies I found with the information being given. While it’s important to show that the characters are communicating with each other, this does not mean that the reader should need to reread the entire plot point multiple times almost verbatim. A writer can more effectively get across the sharing of information between characters in other ways, ways that make the conversation happen off the page.
The third thing that I found issue with in the story was how obvious any twists in the story would be. While I know that I’m better than most at putting clues together than your average reader (because I actively try to solve mysteries while reading), I was not shocked by anything in this book. Even the big reveal at the end, which should be shocking, was done in a way such that I was able to predict what would happen before the final conflict even began.
Even the characters themselves were not very well written. I can enjoy a story that has a shitty plot if it also has good characters. However, this book held neither a good plot nor good characters. Nadia seems to flip between two different personalities without a second thought and I’m not sure which personality the reader is supposed to believe is really her. While trauma and danger can change a person, I believe that this split personality of Nadia’s was more due to Black not fully fleshing out her character than myself not being able to connect with Nadia. I enjoy reading characters that I don’t like if they’re well written but I found myself not liking Nadia simply because she wasn’t well written. Her character had potential and I believe that Black fell short on this front.
Another issue I found was that Black dropped in little tidbits of information throughout the story as if everyone should know that. And while the people living in the fictional world may know things, it’s important to introduce new concepts to the reader. General things such as how the laws in this world work were assumed to be understood and then just thrown in as fact during the last quarter of the book. While I took a long time to finish this book, that does not mean that I was unaware of how the story started. There were many world holes like this that I believe Black tried to fill by throwing in facts randomly, but to me that just makes the book messy.
Before I end this, I do want to say one good thing about the book. The idea of this story remains intriguing to me. The dead being brought back to life through technological means, just without their memories of recent events, sounds promising. To be brought back to life/replicated so that you can find your own murder? This plot still draws my attention even after not enjoying this book. I believe that Black has a very creative imagination. I just wish that I enjoyed the product of the original idea more.