Published October 2012, by Disney Hyperion, 248 pages
Purchased for my Nook
Genre: YA- Dystopic/Science Fiction
Goodreads.com Summary: In a world constructed to absolute perfection, imperfection is difficult to understand—and impossible to hide.
Elysia is a clone, 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 teenaged clone. She was replicated from another teenage girl, who had to die in order for Elysia to be created.
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 there induces a strange, euphoric high that only the island’s workers—soulless clones like Elysia—are immune to.
At first, Elysia’s new life on this island paradise is idyllic and pampered. But she soon sees that Demesne’s human residents, the most privileged people in the world who should want for nothing, yearn. And, she comes to realize that beneath its flawless exterior, there is an undercurrent of discontent amongst 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 Elysia’s one chance at happiness is ripped away from her 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.
I have very mixed feelings about Beta. I’m fascinated by Demesne, which is this very idyllic island that reminds me of Hawaii. The air and water are basically drugged, and it’s a place where people can just relax. I’m also fascinated with the clones, who seem to be replicated from someone who’s died. They’re definitely slaves, and if they’re defects, they are destroyed.
But I had too many unanswered questions. Like, Cohn mentioned the Water Wars, but didn’t explain it. Yeah, it’s people fighting over water. Was the water supply getting low? Was it contaminated? What was going on with water that people felt the need to go to war over it? I don’t need a full-on explanation, but the basics would have been nice. And I wanted to know more about the Insurrection and the clones. Does someone really need to die in order to make clones? It seems possible to create clones from living people, so why are we lead to believe that someone needs to die in order to create clones? Why does taking ‘taxia “wake up” the clones? And honestly, what is ‘raxia? Why does it affect the clones differently? Unfortunately, the history and the “rules” of the world Cohn created weren’t explained. Hopefully, we get more of a history in the next book.
It was hard to connect with the characters. I thought Elysia was on the boring side, and it was hard to care about what happened to her. I didn’t care for her relationship with Tahir or Alex. I thought Xanthe was really interesting, so it’s unfortunate people realize she’s a defect, and she “dies.”
And then the ending came. That was such a frustrating ending to read, because it’s so conflicting. The Insurrection is all about clones being able to make their own decisions and not be treated as slaves. Yet Elysia has to keep a child (after she was raped, mind you) because it gives people hope, even though it’s not what she wants. So frustrating, and not one of my favorite endings.
Then, we get to the cliffhanger, which was surprising because I should have been able to figure it out. Still, I wasn’t expecting Zhara, who is Elysia’s First, to be alive. I wasn’t sure about continuing the series, but I just might have to, with that ending.
Final Thoughts: I definitely have some issues with Beta, and I hope they’re worked out/explained in the next book. It is an interesting idea, and hopefully, the interesting parts will be explored in the next book. It gets a 2 out of 5.