Author: Lauren Oliver
Publisher: Harper Collins, 2016
Edition: Hardcover, 520 pages
From a distance, the Haven Institute, tucked away on a private island off the coast of Florida, looks serene and even beautiful. But up close the locked doors, military guards, and biohazard suits tell a different story. In truth, it is a clandestine research facility where thousands of replicas, or human models, are born, raised, and observed.
But when a surprise attack is launched on Haven, two of its young experimental subjects—Lyra, or 24, and the boy known only as 72—manage to escape. As they make their way through a new and menacing environment, they meet a stranger named Gemma, who has embarked on a perilous quest of her own. And as Lyra tries to understand Haven’s purpose, she uncovers earth-shattering secrets that will change the lives of both girls.
Gemma has been in and out of hospitals her whole life. A sickly child, she has grown into a lonely adolescent whose life is circumscribed by home, school, and her best friend, April.
But after she is nearly abducted by a stranger claiming to know her, Gemma starts to investigate her family’s past and discovers her father’s mysterious connection to the secretive Haven research facility. Hungry for answers, she travels to Florida, only to stumble upon two human models, or replicas, 24 and 72—and a completely new set of questions. As Gemma tries to unravel the mysteries of Haven, she learnes terrible truths about herself and her family that will threaten to destroy everything she loves.
Two girls, two stories, one novel.
While the stories of Gemma and Lyra mirror each other, each contains revelations critically important to the other story. Their narratives can be read separately or in alternating chapters.
I really liked the interesting concept of this book – that you can read two different perspectives in the book either separately or in alternating chapters. That and the fact that the book was just so aesthetically pleasing had me wanting to read it.
I’m not going to lie – I was a little disappointed. I feel like I was tricked because now that I think about it, having multiple perspectives within a novel is not exactly a new concept. In fact, many of my favourite authors use this sort of writing style to tell their stories but I think I got pulled in by the pretty covers and the fact that the two stories need to be flipped to get from one to another. Great marketing strategy and promotion on the part of Harper Collins.
As for the story itself – the premise of it is great. Two girls. One mysterious institute on an island. Secrets and revelations. But I feel like the story was too big and carried out too slowly in order for readers to fully be immersed in the story. Especially since you’re following two girls – and you’re getting the same storyline but twice – by the time the novel ends, you’re still left with more questions and “now what” feelings than you are with answers and an idea of what may happen afterwards for these characters.
While I can understand that author tend to leave their books at a suspense especially in book series, for this one, I felt like the story is just moving way too slow. I’m assuming that this concept of “two girls, two stories, one novel” will be extending to the rest of the series, and quite frankly, I don’t think I’m captivated enough to stay for the rest of the ride.