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Replica by Jenna Black
Cover Artist: Paul Youll
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Tor Teen Trade Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765333711
Date: 16 July 2013 List Price $9.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

The corporations have taken over. In what was once New York, Paxco now runs everything. Paxco developed a process to copy the thoughts of others and create an exact duplicate of the person copied in the event something unexpected happens. This procedure is the lifeblood of Paxco. Not everyone is enamored with the idea of replicas. Many protest that replicas are not human and shouldn't have the same rights as the natural born. But as the procedure offers protection to the very well off, it is not likely to go away without a major change to society.

Travel and trade between corporate states is limited. This creates weird incentives and prices for many items. If you are part of the corporate management, you have access to everything, those on the bottom of society, basement dwellers, just barely survive. Employees are in the middle and are in a position to hopefully improve the lot of their children. The system is built to help the winners, but in the inequity lay the seeds of destruction just waiting for the right catalyst to germinate.

This is the world in which Nadia Lake lives. She is educated and prepared to take on her role in this rigid society. She is engaged to Nathaniel Hayes, heir to Paxco. This makes her the envy of her peers, but they don't know the truth about Nate, nobody does. When Nate is murdered, an exact duplicate with all of his memories to the moment of his last upload is created. Although not indicted in Nate's murder, Nadia is nonetheless cornered by the head of Paxco security, Dirk Mosely, and threatened to garner her aid. The accused is someone that both Nadia and Nate know is innocent. Nobody will believe them, so together, they must discover why he was murdered and protect an innocent man.

What they discover will shake Paxco to the core and may bankrupt their state if the wrong decisions are made. But who is to say what it wrong or right, Nadia.

Replica is a great start to this new series. There is fast-paced action, but the emotional side is not ignored. Society treats men and woman differently, with roles closer to those of the Gilded Age than those of a futuristic society. Nadia and Nate have been sheltered and it shows in their decision making. In some cases the results are not what they expected. As the series progresses I hope to see them grow and challenge how things are done in their future.

I've been reading more young adult dystopian novels recently. Part of that is due to the large number available and the rest is interesting story ideas. In this case society hasn't completely broken down, but it is definitely not the free and equal society that we are working toward. There is definitely a warning against corporate greed and overreach. Corporations are not created to be good or evil; they are created to make money.

There has been some recent debate related to book covers and gender equality. I feel that the cover art should be appealing to both genders. There are strong male and female characters some of whom have chosen a nontraditional path. It may be that dystopian future novels are less likely to aim at one gender than some other Young Adult markets.

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