Author: Rachel Cohn
Series: Annex, #1
Release Date: October 16th, 2012
Pages: 304 (Hardcover)
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 under-current 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.
Cover Impressions: Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. Love the colors, and it definitely suits the book perfectly.
Thoughts: Actual rating is 3.5 stars. This will be a long ass review, by the way, I'm just warning you right now.
This book didn't turn out to be as bad as I was expecting. In fact, most of the time I actually enjoyed myself while reading. Am I a little disappointed, though? Well, not really, because I had low expectations from the start. I'm pretty pleased that it wasn't as horrible as most of the reviews I've read made it seem.
In the world of this book there is an island called Demesne, which is pretty much a paradise on earth, visually perfect in every way, and home to the most wealthiest people on the planet. In this island, the humans are served by clones, who are modeled from actual people that had to die in order to be cloned. The clones are unfeeling and designed to work and serve all of the humans on the island. That is so because, if humans tried to do any work, they would barely be able to accomplish anything due to the euphoric air of Demesne. Everyone on the island strives to achieve maximum ataraxia, which basically means pure happiness.
Elysia is a Beta, one of the first teen Betas ever created. When the wife of the Governor purchases her, she experiences a life serving the Bratton family, one of the most wealthiest families in all of Demesne, and she takes on the roll of being a companion to Mrs. Bratton's kids, Ivan and Liesel. At first Elysia is content with her life, but soon she starts seeing visions and memories from her First, the girl she was modeled after who had to die in order for her to exist. And she also discovers that she is able to feel human emotions. She must then make the choice of keeping her secret and living the life she was destined to lead, or fighting for the chance to live her own life.
I really liked the whole concept of the book and thought it was pretty unique. And also the author's writing, especially the descriptions. I was able to actually see Demesne vividly, and I could even feel myself being there. As for the world building, well, I don't usually critique that, but in this book I felt like there isn't really much info on what happened before Demesne. Maybe several paragraphs here and there, telling of how there was this war called the Water Wars that destroyed everything, but then the humans eventually started rebuilding again.
I do hope that as the series progresses, there will be more insight on the rest of the world outside of Demesne. There's a city called Biome City that is mentioned a lot, but is never actually one of the locations during the book. Although I do see it being a possible location in the sequel.
Like any dystopian book out there, there's always a resistance or rebellion of some sort. In this book it's called the Insurrection, and I believe it consists of these things called Defects, who are clones that are able to feel human emotions. What caused this could probably have been a drug called 'raxia, which gives whoever consumes it an even more intense physical high than the air in Demesne, and basically ataraxia in the form of a pill. Anyway, I also hope there will be more insight on the Insurrection stuff as well as the series continues, cause I didn't feel like I saw much of it during reading.
My problem with this book is the romance. It is extremely shallow, and kind of reminds me of the romance in the Vampire Queen series by Rebecca Maizel, in that it's pretty much mostly based on looks. Both of Elysia's love interest are extremely muscled and gorgeous, and she had insta-lust for them at first sight.
The main love interest is....well, I'm not even sure which one anymore. At first it was Tahir, the son of the most wealthy family in all of Demesne, the Fortesquieus. I can't really say much about him without giving massive spoilers, but I will say that him and Elysia's romance was crappy, vapid insta-love.
The other love interest is one that doesn't appear until very, very later on in the book, the boy that Elysia sees in her visions, the boy who had a romantic connection with Elysia's First. He's a mega-muscled surfer god and extremely gorgeous, of course, and Elysia constantly gets her panties wet over him. Nearing the end of the book it gets really ridiculous. Elysia just becomes too heavily in lust with this guy that she pretty much forgets about Tahir. Also, if I had a penny for every time there was a description of his flawless muscles, I would probably be able to buy all of Demesne. Some of the things Elysia thought of near the end, when she was getting all down and dirty with the surfer god dude (whom I will not name for some reason) really made me dislike her. A lot.
This book is pretty heavily sexual, even for a YA. Everyone wants a piece of Elysia, really. And I mean everyone. Nearing the end there was a very disturbing rape scene, and it really surprised me because the one who raped her was not at all the man I was expecting. It was really disgusting, but soon after that, things got a turn for the better when Elysia practically goes berserk, which I enjoyed. I didn't really care much for the other characters in the book. They were all so extremely shallow—well, I guess that's to be expected, due to the whole theme of the book.
Nearing the end, Rachel Cohn pretty much just continuously bitch slaps you with unexpected twist after unexpected twist. There were so many, I could barely even handle them. The ending was the biggest twist of all, and it was a pretty huge cliffhanger that made me want to see what happens next in the series.
Overall, this was a pretty enjoyable read, despite its obvious flaws. I would recommend it, I suppose, but I don't think it's for everyone. I apologize for the extremely long review. xD