Name: Beta (Beta # 1)Author: Rachel Cohn
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Release Date: October 16th, 2012
Format: ARC copy
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I enjoyed reading this book very much and thought that the idea of creating unfeeling clones to service humans was certainly a new and unique one. When Elysia is first sold to the Bratton family as a replacement for their eldest daughter that moved away, she is happy to be with them. Having known no other way of life besides serving, Elysia politely and obediently does everything her adoptive family asks of her, most of which involves playing with her two new “siblings” Ivan and Liesel, and acting as her “mother’s” little toy doll to dress up and parade around town. However, when Elysia suddenly begins to realize that she is much less “unfeeling” than she should be, she understands that she must keep her defective nature, and her yearning to control her own life and desires, to herself unless she wants to be the next clone to die.
Elysia is introduced to Ivan’s cute yet remote friend Tahir, and almost immediately falls in love with him. The author may have made her sudden love for the boring Tahir difficult to believe on purpose, since as a clone she is not used to having such deep feelings and thus does not know how to express her emotions, but either way their romance appeared more like physical attraction rather than true love. Yet, at any rate, Elysia still cannot stop thinking about Alex, the lover that her clone, Zhara, had before she was killed. She knows that remembering anything about her clone’s life, including her name and what her lover looked like, automatically marks her as a Defect and will lead to her death, but she cannot stop thinking about them, especially Alex.
The Bratton family seems like a relatively normal, loving family at the beginning of the book. However, as it progresses and more about the family is uncovered, it becomes clear that they are slightly evil and very disturbing. They treat clones with the utmost disrespect, as though they are merely the playthings of humans and should do their every bidding, since they have no feelings and were made solely to work for and please the humans. Yet, contrary to popular belief, many of the clones are actually developing feelings and desires, which leads to brief mentions of a rebellion, which I assume will be discussed in greater detail in the second book.
While most of the clones were just so unfeeling that they were difficult to connect with, they were also a great source of entertainment. The clones have databases embedded in their brains that they use to look up information that they don’t automatically know, but slang words and other phrases are not included in their databases. Therefore, it was quite comical watching Elysia as she tried to communicate with the other kids her age, since she did not understand slang or sarcasm much at all. There was also a surprising cliffhanger at the end of the book that made me anxious to discover what happens next. In general, I thought that Beta was an interesting book and I can’t wait to read the next one!