author : rachel cohn
favorite characters : xanthe & elysia
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.
I picked up this book thinking that it’d be an okay read and now I think that it’s going to be one of my favorite books of the year! Elysia’s story is terrifying, captivating, inspiring, and addictive. I can’t wait to continue with the sequel!
All of the characters in Beta are wonderful, even the ‘unfeeling’ clones that popular the island Elysia was created on. The society is one that is both fascinating and repulsive, a group of some of the most elite people to survive in this new, harsh world. They have altered the place to be something completely paradisaical and thus something that could never have occurred only in nature. Everything hear needs to be perfect and is so perfect that no human living there ever wants to have to work. This means that the clones do all of the work and because they are not allowed to want, they only do the will of the humans owning them and nothing else.
It was wonderful and funny to see Elysia navigate the world of teenagers while she is newly born and does not understand much. While most of this is sweet and funny, there are also parts that will break your heart and remind you that her life is nothing more than glamorized slavery.
I cannot wait to see more of this world, beyond the island, and see what the rest of the Annex series has in store for readers. With a lovely writing style and cast of characters, I feel like this can’t disappoint. With a background as solid as that and a plot that is impossible to forget, Beta is a wonderful new favorite of mine.