Book Review: REPLICA by Jenna Black

Replica (Replica, Book 1), by Jenna Black, is a fast-paced YA novel featuring two protagonists, 16 year olds Nadia Lake and Nate Hayes. Children of the wealthy elite in the repressive Corporate States, Nate and Nadia are like celebrities. They are also betrothed to be married, forming the lynchpin in a powerful alliance between important corporate families. Though they’ve always been friends, neither is particularly interested in marrying the other. This, however, becomes the least of their problems when Nate is murdered and Nadia, possibly the last person to see him alive, is framed for the crime.

Nate is immediately reborn as a replica, courtesy of his father’s corporate cloning technology, but he cannot remember anything of the hours leading up to his death. Together, he and Nadia must discover who really killed him — and why. So begins their adventure.

This book takes a number of interesting turns away from the typical YA formula — beginning with the fact that Nate and Nadia (for a host of reasons I don’t want to spoil) are not romantically interested in each other. The book does explore romance and sexuality, just not in totally expected ways, which is refreshing.

In addition to these themes, issues of identity play a big role in REPLICA. Because Nate is a clone, he is constantly grappling with the question of whether he’s really the same person he was before his murder. Those around him are equally troubled by his rebirth, and conflict over the replication technology plays a central role in the plot.

The other major aspect of REPLICA is a political one – and particularly important are the politics of class. The Corporate families rule with an iron fist, essentially keeping the rest of society in a state of servitude (or worse).

As Nate and Nadia seek answers to his murder, they begin to delve into parts of their world they were previously sheltered from. As their frame of reference and experiences shift, so do their politics. Much like the Hunger Games, REPLICA is as much as a story of awakening political consciousness as it is a coming of age tale. Thus, REPLICA is not only fun and – at times – thrilling. It is also thought-provoking.

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Miranda Suri
Contributor

Miranda is a graduate of the Viable Paradise Writer’s workshop (vpxiii), was an attendee at the Superstars Writing Seminar (2011), and is a proud member of the Wind-Tossed Coalition and the Sin City Scribblers.  Her fiction has appeared in Electric Spec, and she has an excellent blog about writing.

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