Monday, December 24, 2012

Book Review: Beta by Rachel Cohn

Beta by Rachel Cohn
Published: October 16, 2012
Publisher: Hyperion Book CH
Age Demographic: YA Sci-Fi Dystopia
Pages: 336

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.

The first in a dazzlingly original science fiction series from best-selling author Rachel Cohn, Beta is a haunting, unforgettable story of courage and love in a cor­rupted world.

To Purchase Beta by Rachel Cohn:  Amazon


Beta is an incredibly intriguining book, that will grab reader's attention immediately and hold it until the last page has been read. It is one of the most interesting and original sci-fi dystopian based books that I've read in a while. Rachel Cohn pens such an incredibly edgey story full of many questions, mysteries, and wonderfully developed characters. There are shocking secrets to be discovered, surprises in store, and so much more that will wow readers and keep them dancing on the edge of their seats. There is also wonderful adventure and romance, danger and suspense involved in this delicious story that make it unputdownable.

Beta has some truly brilliant unexpected elements that are explored within the story. The fact that the story being told is mostly original, is pretty spectacular in itself. Reader's won't see what's coming or what to expect, as they're reading the book, which will make for an even more interesting journey and reading experience. Elysia is a truly fantastic heroine that is incredibly likable and not the easiest to connect with, at first. She's the first of her kind, in a teenage clone line. So, it's only natural that she would have questions of her own and want to figure out the answers to them. One of the best things about her, is her journey to becoming more human and the fact that she's brave enough to be willing to die for her beliefs. This makes her a strong character, that can be admired.

Beta is full of surprises that readers will find themselves enamored with. While the romance is sweet and charming, I did personally find it to be a bit of insta-love, which isn't one of my favorite elements in a book. There was also an instance where it felt like I switched from reading Beta to a moment where I felt like I was experiencing Twilight de ja vu all over again, with the "imprinting" bit that was introduced. I wished Cohn would have been a little more creative as far as that concept goes. I also wish that there would have been a little bit more background and knowledge explored involving the Water Wars, than there was.

Over-all, Beta was an incredibly tense drama, adventure filled book that will definitely appeal to most sci-fi and dystopian fans. It's a wonderfully engaging and captivating novel, despite its few flaws. I would definitely recommend this book to those who enjoy dystopia and science fiction novels.



Rachel grew up in the D.C. area and graduated from Barnard College with a B.A. in Political Science. She has written many YA novels, including three that she cowrote with her friend and colleague David Levithan. She lives and writes (when she's not reading other people's books, organizing her music library or looking for the best cappuccino) in New York City.

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