December 30, 2012

Review of Beta (Annex #1) by Rachel Cohn

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 cloud-ing 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 happi-ness 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 cor-rupted world. Praise for Beta “A terrific premise that is equally well executed…Readers can only hope [the sequel] will be as thrilling as this series kickoff.”–Los Angles Times

add to goodreadsBeta (Annex #1) by Rachel Cohn
Publication Date:  October 16, 2012
Publisher:  Hyperion

Available for Purchase:
amazon / B&N / TBD / indiebound
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** This title was provided to us by the Publisher for an honest review.
We were in no way paid for our opinions **

Gabby NewI’ve seen Beta by author Rachel Cohn on a bunch of top YA reading lists on Goodreads and I’ll admit, I’ve been pretty excited to start reading. Especially since the description makes it sound a lot like Wither by Lauren Destefano, which I loved .So when I finally got the chance to start reading Beta I was pretty excited, especially since one of my favorite authors Melissa De La Cruz recommends it, I had to guess that it would be pretty awesome. Right from the first page, I knew that that Beta would be a fun and exhilarating ride.

Rachel Cohn’s, Beta is set in a futuristic world where the wealthiest citizens in the island nation of Demesne can purchase a Clone to be their servants or slave for the right price. What’s wrong with that? The ethics of it, each Clone is created by Dr. Lusardi who has specifically designed her clones to be incapable of having a soul. To create a Clone is to kill their First a.k.a. the person their design was derived from. When Dr. Lusardi creates her second Teen Beta, a perfect creation and an image of success, Elysia is purchased by her new “Mother” and meets her new family.

But it doesn’t take long to notice that this utopia might all just be one fantastic lie, Elysia can do something that other Clones cannot: She can feel and after learning the dark truths about Demesne, Elysia comes to terms with the fact that her feelings can only mean one thing: She is a Defect. Being a Defect means being dissected and eventually being murdered by scientists, to avoid this fare, Elysia must stop herself from feeling, but that’s hard when she’s falling in love…

The one thing I think I enjoyed most about the novel was watching Elysia’s evolution as being a controlled Beta to turning into a creature straight out of terminator. I’ll admit that there were some things that I wish didn’t happen to her, but all the same, I enjoyed watching that metamorphosis as Elysia obtains control over her existence as a living creature and having to face the Awfuls (the stage all Teen Betas go through before they… expire).

Beta, I personally found, did show the ugly side of what would happen should we start cloning people. Plus, it held the dark ethical problems, which are of course embraced with open arms on Demesne. The novel held a lot of dark topics and I’m not quite sure how I feel about it, from the start of the novel to the end, I was actually quite surprised with how dark certain scenes got. I’ll admit that I did struggle with certain topics that made me feel uncomfortable and found myself putting the novel down for a moment or two.  My only real problem with the novel was the pacing and the repetitiveness of chapters, I personally felt like most scenes involving the other characters doing the “’Raxia” drug were always a constant repeat of themselves and got rather boring. Other than that, it was an interesting read.

With the novel ending the way it did, I have to admit, I’m a bit afraid to read the sequel and I mean that in a good way: I’m afraid for Elysia and for whatever might happen to her. All of her.

I’d recommend Beta to readers who are fans of dystopia, want a read with tons of plot twists and those of us who want to try an interesting sci-fi novel.

About the Author:

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.

Connect with the Author:  Website / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads


  1. Lily

    I know what you mean by dark moments! I wasn’t expectin it to get as dark and serouis as it got either. It’s interesting how the author is going about this whole clone thing having rights so I’m anticipating its sequel to see where she goes with this! And the ending wow! Did not see that coming!
    Great review!

  2. Ashley

    I was really surprised by how dark Beta was too! I didn’t expect that at all. I wasn’t really a big fan of all the drug use.

    The end kind of confused me just because I’m not sure how the heck it’s possible.. so I’m curious to see how that play sout!

  3. I’ve had my eye on this book for a while, but now I can’t wait to read it. Your review makes it sound pretty great!

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