Monday, January 7, 2013

Book Review: Beta by Rachel Cohn

Beta by Rachel Cohn
Publisher: Disney/Hyperion
Publication date: October 2012
Pages: 336
Source: ARC from ALA
For: Review
Series: Beta, Book 1

Elysia is a beta, one of the first clones created to be a teenager. Despite having a few glitches, she is immediately purchased to be a companion for the mayor's son. Discovering that she seems not to be completely perfect as she is supposed to be, Elysia struggles with the feelings she's experiencing and with discovering that not all is ideal on her isolated perfect island.

Things I Liked:
I was really intrigued by the premise of this book.  I love the idea of clones created to look like real people, but without souls (ok, that sounds creepy - I like it as a book, not an actual idea).  I loved seeing this disturbing future world Cohn created, complete with an idyllic island society that is isolated from everything else going on in the world.  It was interesting to watch Elysia figure out what she was feeling and what her place in the world was, and just what was really going on.  I thought the book had so much potential, but it didn't work for me.

Things I Didn't Like:
I never felt like anything was explained or like Elysia really figured out who she was or what she wanted to do.  She kind of still seemed to be drifting, (*possible spoiler ahead*) even after she fell in love (*end spoiler*).  I was disappointed at how quickly she shifted her feelings and changed her opinions based on who she was with.  Especially the ending seemed just really strange, really too far out there to believe, and didn't seem to fit with what had gone on before.  Most of my problems were with just how bored I was for most of the book.  It really felt like nothing happened for the first 2/3 of the book and then everything does.  It is slow-building, yes, but I wanted to see something more than just Elysia trying to figure out what people meant when they spoke (though, a few times it seemed inconsistently done throughout), Elysia trying to please the humans, but wondering about her First.  And I was annoyed that the choices she makes were stupid, even for her.  I can't really explain it well, but I just didn't like it.  

Reminded me a bit of Virals by Kathy Reichs

Maybe somewhat like The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer

s-factor: !@
some, not a lot though

mrg-factor: XX
most of it clinical, but some of it was uncomfortably descriptive

v-factor: ->
a little bit

Overall rating: **

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage


  1. nice review. i see what you mean about the premise intriguing. bummer that it didn't follow through.

    ~L (omphaloskepsis)

    1. Yeah, I was pretty disappointed, but others have enjoyed it thoroughly. Just me, maybe?

  2. Sigh. The premise sounds so promising. :-( It depresses me to hear it's slow.

    1. I know, I had some seriously high hopes.


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