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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exciting new dystopia!
A provocative, intellectually stimulating and emotionally engaging tale of humanity, identity, ethics and free will, BETA is, in a word, fascinating. In this fun to read, absorbing and unique novel, Rachel Cohn addresses some interesting ethical issues about the pitfalls of cloning and bio-genetics. She introduces us to a great new heroine that, engineered to serve the...
Published 23 months ago by Evie Seo

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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Quite a Few Issues
Before I got to read this one, I saw a few non-flattering reviews roll in, so I was on my guard, prepared for another in a string of disappointing reads. Thankfully, I enjoyed Beta pretty much all the way through, although I am definitely immensely skeptical about where the series is heading.

Beta takes place on an island paradise, home to only the richest and...
Published 23 months ago by Christina (A Reader of Fictions)


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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Quite a Few Issues, October 19, 2012
This review is from: Beta (Beta (Hyperion)) (Hardcover)
Before I got to read this one, I saw a few non-flattering reviews roll in, so I was on my guard, prepared for another in a string of disappointing reads. Thankfully, I enjoyed Beta pretty much all the way through, although I am definitely immensely skeptical about where the series is heading.

Beta takes place on an island paradise, home to only the richest and most fashionable of people. These people are so rich that they have clones, programmed to be emotionless and get work done perfectly, to take care of them, because, honestly, human butlers and nannies are just so last season. The rest of the world is not so nice, and is very different from the one we know today. Details on that are somewhat limited in Beta, but I hope to learn more about the Water Wars and what the cities are like in later installments.

I do need to talk for a bit about the concept of the clones to serve this island. Honestly, I don't get it. They talked about why they needed them: because good labor is too difficult to find, since the island didn't have natives and travel to the island is exceedingly expensive. That's nice and all, but I'm FAIRLY CERTAIN that producing clones is about 80 billion times more expensive than that. Also, the whole process seems suspect to me. For one thing, the person being cloned is supposed to be dead, which makes me wonder where all of the hot, dead people are coming from. Another problem with I have with this is the whole business about how they separate out the soul from the body. Did I miss when we figured out where the soul is? Has a physical soul been located in the future?

Betas are not supposed to be able to feel or taste anything. They should be, essentially, like robots. Elysia, our heroine, is a beta, a test clone for the new teen line. Because she is gorgeous (stacked), she sells quickly and goes to serve as a companion in the home of a wealthy family. It quickly becomes apparent that Elysia is not what a clone should be, which I am thankful for, since her first person story would have been VERY boring were she actually the way clones are meant to be.

Thankfully, I did not find her narration boring at all. Cohn's writing often amused me and I really liked the rhythm of it. Basically, she used the beginning clone section for comedic value. Even early on, it's apparent that something is wrong with Elysia's programming because she is so incredibly curious. As such she asks lots of inappropriate questions. For additional reader amusement, she interprets things very literally, like wondering where a girl 'puts out the sex.' This humor was obvious, but I must admit I was still entertained.

Cohn makes an attempt at twists, and there are several in here. Most of them I saw coming from miles away. Pretty much as soon as a character was introduced, I would predict that x and y would happen to them and then a hundred pages or more later, it would. The twists at the end did get me, though, I will admit. Basically, there are enough surprises that she'll likely catch you off guard once or twice.

For most of the book, I was okay with the romance. Just okay. I don't especially care for either guy (yes, a love triangle, and one that I suspect I will come to loathe). Tahir sounds totally dreamy. Were I Elysia, I would be all over that one, because he sounds delicious. Besides, he's actually there, which helps. Still, I did not really experience any feels at their romance. Mostly, I just wanted her to enjoy herself, because why the hell not. The other boy has a history with her First, aka the girl she was cloned from, and she knows him from a brief memory. He holds no appeal for me. Still, the dynamics of the love triangle were interesting enough thus far.

Did you notice that I have mentioned THE END a couple of times as having been somewhat distinct from the rest of the novel for me? GOODNESS GRACIOUS, THE ENDING. I really wish that I could talk about this in detail with you guys, but I won't because spoilers. Here's what I can say. Things get darker, which I give Cohn props for. Something I thought was coming but kind of didn't think would happen because it usually doesn't in YA DID happen, and it was painful. That part of the end was good in a painful way.

THEN there's some things that I am just all kinds of not cool with, which sucks because I had such a pleasant reading experience up to that point, despite my nitpicking above. What it comes down to is that some trope-ish things happen all in a row and I am REALLY concerned about whether I will like the next book at all. If anyone has read this book, I would love to discuss!

So, for the review skimmers, I will say that I enjoyed reading Beta quite a bit, but I am not altogether sure how I feel about it. A lot will hinge on whether you like Cohn's writing and what happens in book two.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exciting new dystopia!, October 22, 2012
This review is from: Beta (Beta (Hyperion)) (Hardcover)
A provocative, intellectually stimulating and emotionally engaging tale of humanity, identity, ethics and free will, BETA is, in a word, fascinating. In this fun to read, absorbing and unique novel, Rachel Cohn addresses some interesting ethical issues about the pitfalls of cloning and bio-genetics. She introduces us to a great new heroine that, engineered to serve the wealthy residents of Demesne, is forced to either obediently follow all the rules or die. Disquieting, thrilling and haunting, BETA is the first book in what quickly became one of my new favourite YA dystopian series!

Set on an idyllic island inhabited by only the wealthiest, most powerful people in the world (Demesne), BETA tells the story of Elysia, a first in a new generation of teenage clones. Elysia's life is not her own. She is a clone and therefore she does not experience emotions or desires. She is merely an expensive toy, a servant, a valuable possession designed to do whatever she's asked to do. While she's a novelty that her owners like to show off to their friends, she's also totally expendable and even the smallest hint of being a "defect" will result in her immediate termination. What will happen to Elysia when she'll discover that she might be, indeed, a defect? Will she find it in herself to fight for her life and freedom? In a world where clones are nothing more than slaves, and emotions and desires - a sign of imperfection, is there any hope for this unwanted clone who so desperately wants to live?

BETA has a lot to offer. It's well-written, fast-paced, filled with jaw-dropping twists and unexpected - at times even shocking - plot developments. From the first page to the last, it's a wild, breathtaking ride that is sure to surprise you at least a few times. The captivating and convincing prose ensures that even its most bizarre futuristic themes and improbable situations remain believable, the characters - relatable. Rachel Cohn created a world that, though a little bit underdeveloped and sketchy on the details (and possibly purposefully so!), is simply fantastic. Unsettling, cold and emotionless, yet beautiful and undeniably compelling. It's not a flawless book, but Cohn's greatly enjoyable writing style makes the few flaws and shortcomings easy to overlook and results in a perfectly satisfying, exciting story. Moreover, BETA is not only an action-packed and highly entertaining futuristic noir, it's also a multi-dimensional and thought-provoking morality tale. An affecting picture that is rich with metaphor, ambitious, and thematically relevant. Featuring themes such as discrimination, search for identity, equality, free will and slavery, it's an insightful examination of what it means to be human - to live, feel and want.

I enjoyed Elysia's first-person narrative and thought it worked way better than a third-person narrative would. I thought she was a great, likeable protagonist and while some of her decisions made me raise my eyebrows a little, overall I found her character quite realistic (as much as a clone could be) and relatable. In the end, I can say that I grew attached to her and enjoyed cheering her on. It was compelling to see the world through her eyes and watch her explore, learn, and experience all the new things for the first time. Her inexperience often lead to many funny situations and hilarious misunderstandings. At the same time, though, while some parts of the story were amusing, even heart-warming, the overall tone of the story was serious, quite unsettling and dark.

Another aspect of this book that I really loved was its mysteriousness. There is so much going on within the pages - from cloning and rebellious movements against it to Elysia's personal experiences and adventures - yet most of that is covered with a veil of mystery and secrecy. And while we do get some answers at the end, many of the questions are left unanswered. For the most part, the story line was positively unpredictable. The tension never let up and kept me on my toes all throughout the book. The only thing I could possibly complain about is that I now have to wait so long to find out what happens next! And that ending?! Oh. My. Gosh. Talk about a killer cliffhanger!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dissapointing dystopian, November 19, 2012
This review is from: Beta (Kindle Edition)
I'm a dystopian junkie. I can't get enough of them. I was really looking forward to reading Beta which appears to be a dystopia/sci-fi mix, but it turned out to be a colossal disappointment. I'm giving it two stars instead of one because the concept was terrific but the execution of the story fell totally flat.

Beta started out with an interesting premise: On a island built around luxury, dead humans are cloned and created to serve in a variety of positions. These clones, while functioning like their human counterparts are missing a very important component: a soul. They function, but they don't taste, wish or feel. They are mimics programmed to serve and please their human masters.

The main character of Beta is an untested clone, one of the first teenage "experimental" models - a Beta named Elysia. She is born, not knowing who she is, learning about the world around her by accessing the chip implanted in her brain and slowly acclimating to her role of servitude. She is a "good girl" doing what she was programmed to do and fitting into her new family in a role not unlike a pet.

The first part of the book was intriguing. Elysia seems to be very good at certain things like swimming and diving...holdovers from her "First" - the person she was cloned from. She discovers she can taste. She experiences flashbacks of her previous, human life. She begins to realize she's different from the other clones. Maybe something is terribly wrong? And yet it feels so right! Elysia carries this secret with her - afraid of what it might mean. Perhaps she is defective...

Sadly, the story started falling apart as it progressed and felt like something a tween would write with wooden non-varied sentence structure that reminded me of a second grade primer. The potential to have a deep, meaningful, haunting narrative turned into something shallow sprinkled with sex scenes including a rape that did NOT fit the character who committed it (this is a DISNEY book??!!) and quotes like "blond surfer god". (Where is a spoon so I can gag myself?)

The insipid teen verbiage became a total distraction. Maybe it's that I'm not in the targeted age group for the novel, but I found it totally irritating.

The teen characters in the book are constantly getting high on "Raxia" and are flat representations of the spoiled rich. Almost all of the supporting characters are trite and predictable. The plot twists can be seen miles away and the story's credibility started unraveling about half-way through. There is also have a case of "insta-love" that is totally unconvincing (and drug-induced by the way) where by the 4th "date" they were ready to get intimate (and this is already after planning on running off together previously).

I also didn't care for the world building. I can see what the author was trying to do, but I found that it just wasn't believable and I didn't care about any of the characters other than the little sister Liesel and Elysia - but only at the beginning.

Of course the ending was a cliff-hanger but absolutely outlandish. There is only one element (which I won't mention since it's a spoiler) that had me the least bit curious about taking a look at the next book. I'm sure the readers who liked the story will be clamoring for the sequel.

Bottom line: If you are an adult who likes the dystopian YA book genre, Beta may not be a good fit. I see it appealing more to younger teens. Because of the gratuitous sex (that serves no purpose other than to titillate as far as I can tell), drugs, violence and lack of a real message - I don't think it's a good fit for that age group either.

There was so much potential with this book and yet it turned out to be so disappointing.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Slow Paced & Very Mediocre, January 1, 2013
This review is from: Beta (Beta (Hyperion)) (Hardcover)
**I would like to thank Disney-Hyperion for providing me an ARC on NetGalley.**
Beta is one of those books that came with alot of hype and publicity. I read many mixed reviews for Beta but I didn't let that stop me from reading it. Beta has a super interesting concept but I don't think it was executed well. This a book where there is an extremely slow paced plot where throughout the majority of the book nothing seems to happen. There was way too much dialogue and not nearly enough conflict. Beta joins the ranks of books like Matched where the romance is way too overwhelming and slows down the plot. To say I'm disappointed with Beta would be an understatement.

Beta takes place on Demense, an island that is considered by it's wealthy residents to be flawless. The air on Demense even gives the residents an ataraxic high. Clones are employed by the residents of the island as servants who fufill the residents of Demense's every whim. These clones are replicated from dead humans who are called Firsts but clones do not have memories of their Firsts.

In addition to not having memories of their Firsts, clones are not supposed to have emotions otherwise they are considered defects. Defects are illegal due to the fact that they aren't the mindless zombies the residents of Demense want them to be. Clones also have a tattoo that reveals what their occupation is on Demense. I really enjoyed the descriptions and anecdotes about the clones on Demense.
Our protagonist is Elysia was adopted by a general's family and lives on Demense. She is a Beta, an experimental teen clone which makes her unique on Demense. Elysia begins to realize that she isn't the mindless clone everyone thinks clones should be. I did like Elysia but her perfection became extremely annoying. She was extremely athletic, social, smart, pretty and the list goes on and on. The fact that she displayed emotion didn't make her anyless perfect in my opinion. The emotions made her stronger as a character and helped her face challenges.

I wasn't a fan of the romance of Beta at all because it seemed superficial. When I read romance I like it to feel that the characters have a connection but Tahir and Elysia didn't have any connection. Their so-called romance was superficially built on looks and I feel like they barely knew each other. As soon as Elysia meets Tahir it's insta-love and she begins to swoon over Tahir. I really liked Elysia until this point because she felt very strong and independent. As soon as she met Tahir she was extremely reckless, rash, and ignorant and I felt like she was too smart to be so brainwashed into believing that it was true love. Seriously you know nothing about him at all and you still think you're in love? That's not love at all it's purely ridiculous infatuation.
The plot of Beta seemed to be almost conflict-less and bereft of any action. Beta moved at a very sluggish pace that I struggled to keep reading. At a certain point there way too much swooning and insta-love until I couldn't take it anymore. For 85% of the novel there was so little tension and eventful things that I could have just skipped it all. If I had just read the last 15% of Beta after reading the beginning it wouldn't have made any difference because virtually nothing happened at all. I became so extremely bored with Beta that I kept putting off reading it and at a point each page felt like a struggle. By the time I reached the ending where something finally happened, I was too bored out of my wits to care at all. Also Beta was way too predictable and I knew what was going to happen 99% of the time. Beta was way too cliche for me and predictable for me.

Rachel Cohn decided to explore very controversial topics such as sexual abuse and drug use in Beta. I didn't really think she handled these topics well in Beta at all because everything felt so nonchalant. The teens on Demense are constantly using a drug 'raxia to achieve ataraxia. Doing 'raxia really had no importance in the book at all and it just felt extremely unnecessary. There was no deeper meaning where people are warned that drugs are bad for you at all so I am not sure why this was included in Beta. Why are clones sexually abused? There are cases of sexual abuse in this book but they didn't feel serious at all. I think these scenes were way too casually executed because sexual abuse is a serious issue. The mentioning of sexual abuse in Beta seems just randomly added in because it doesn't even feel like an issue. Rachel Cohn doesn't even make us have empathy for the character who got sexually abused. The sexual abuse in this novel didn't appear to have any significance at all and it bothered me how it felt just effortlessly thrown in.

Beta wasn't the book for me at all. If you enjoy reading sluggishly paced books with no conflict at all, Beta may be your fix. I don't really enjoy romances when I can't even like the male romantic interest at all. Beta has a serious case of insta-love to the point where it is extremely painful to read. I really felt like Beta had a ton of potential but Rachel Cohn focused way too much on romance. The chances of me reading Beta's sequel is as likely as the world ending in 2012.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Reminded me of Glitch, October 17, 2012
By 
This review is from: Beta (Beta (Hyperion)) (Hardcover)
Elysia is a beta, one of the first teenage clones. She is programmed to have the same thoughts as a real teenager, but has no actual feelings.
Sold to the Bratton family as a replacement for an older child that went off to collage. They seemed nice at first, but soon finds out that something is not quite right. Elysia starts to have her own feelings, which then lead to rebellion.

The beginning was promising, but for me it didn't live up to my exceptions. The book was a little slow in the middle. Elysia was a interesting character but she seemed cold and I could not relate to her. There is some disturbing material in the book.The book reminded me of Glitch, in a way. Overall it was an enjoyable book, I'll be checking out the second book for sure!

Thank you to Disney Hyperion and NetGalley for the ebook in exchange for an honest review!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good until the last fifteen pages, December 30, 2012
This review is from: Beta (Beta (Hyperion)) (Hardcover)
I'll admit to being pretty bored in the beginning, likely because of the massive back story dump in the first few chapters. This is done clumsily, through a combination of long paragraphs in Elysia's thoughts and incredibly tedious paragraphs of an instructive hologram. This MIGHT be excusable if all that information was necessary right out of the gate, but it isn't. Some of it isn't necessary at all. After I got past the first 30 pages or so, the plot picked up and the narrative voice seemed to improve. Elysia herself was an interesting narrator, if not a very consistent one personality-wise.

Let me start by saying I enjoyed the friendship aspect of this book immensely. The individual characters that Elysia spends most of her time with are diverse enough to be entertaining and challenging enough to be gripping. These scenes made the book whip by, and I was disappointed when we moved on to the romance.

The romance aspect was... weird. I like the idea of Elysia and her guy but not so much in execution. How do you have a romance without feelings? The answer is, you don't. You get a couple very well-written make out scenes mixed with a lot of unsatisfying fluffy angst. In actuality, there was a different character that I thought early on might be part of the inevitable love triangle, and I was very interested in that possibility. Unfortunately, that was a wash because of some blatant...

Character assassination. Good lord. Probably my favorite character in the book ended up going from druggie teenager to serious criminal with little to no explanation. Granted, the kid had some issues, but I have trouble believing an individual who was previously fun and caring would do such a complete 180 without there being more substantive warning signs. The way this character ended up really left a sour taste in my mouth.

There were definitely some twists and turns in this book, a few of which were genuinely surprising, some of which were painfully obvious from the very beginning. The ending kind of felt like the last Lord of the Rings movie, in that something happened and you thought it was the end, then something else happened and you thought THAT was the end, then something else, on and on and on. Some of these endings were cool. Most of them... I felt like I was suddenly reading Twilight, and I mean that as a terrible insult. However, I loved Elysia's insistence on making her own choice despite these developments, and I was almost okay with how it turned out until the final twist came along...

Be warned, this is one of those books that throws in a sudden OMG BIG REVELATION moment in the last half a page. I've ranted about this habit in other reviews, and I'll do it again now. If your characters and series plot aren't engaging enough to bring readers back for the next installment, a quick hook for shock value at the end isn't going to do it, either. I read this back-to-back with a different dystopian teen book. Not only did both authors throw in a cheap final shocker, but they both used the EXACT SAME SHOCKER. Seriously, authors. This is not a good plot device.

Overall, I liked most of the book, but the ending--or endings--turned out to be too disappointing to earn a better rating.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't torture yourself., December 26, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Beta (Kindle Edition)
What the check is wrong with this author? There's no ending!it was an amazing book that I couldn't put down but the ending was not an ending.... AT ALL.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An interesting story about clones in a utopian society falls a little short to of my expectations., November 10, 2012
This review is from: Beta (Beta (Hyperion)) (Hardcover)
Review courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales

Quick & Dirty: An interesting story about clones in a utopian society falls a little short to of my expectations.

Opening Sentence: It's me she wants to purchase.

The Review:

Rachel Cohn's Beta has a gorgeous cover. Even from the ARC (advanced reading copy), it has multiple overlay layers that blend between matte, shiny, and metallic. It's gorgeous, and so is the cover model. Beta is a dystopian, of sorts. Instead of the government being the main focus, Beta focuses on clones and other laboratory creations. In the case of Beta, a new program has been introduced, and teenagers are the subject. Beta reminds me of older science fiction classics, even similar to the sorts of Frankenstein. So if you're a fan of SciFi? This could be for you.

Beta follows the life of Elysia, a beta clone. Where clones are usually adults, Dr. Lusardi has started testing out Betas. Clones are without souls, using bodies of humans who have passed on as empty vessels. For the betas like Elysia, the only concern is the teenage hormone factor. It's unpredictable, as is Elysia herself. Elysia is a slave, focused solely on the duties at hand. She is not meant to have feelings, emotions, or opinions. But in Elysia's case? She has all of these as well as memories of her former, human self. Problems arise for Elysia, and that is only the beginning of what's to come.

It was a little difficult getting to know Elysia. Cohn wrote her to be a clone, lacking personality and emotion. Gradually, she learns more and more about herself, her human past, and the realities of life on Demesne. And as naive as Cohn wrote her to be, she seeks answers without any second thought. Her intelligence is pre-programed, her natural abilities from her human life. It was hard to understand who Elysia was once she was stripped of all of that.

There were some great supporting characters and some who were not. But while I didn't like some, I'll keep them nameless, to let you form your own opinion. I wanted to know about some of the characters more than others, and I felt that a select few needed less face time. I thought the romance was a little forced, especially given that Elysia just newly discovered feelings. Was it realistic that she fell so hard so quickly? Probably not, but certain events were just hard to take in.

In this utopian society, the island of Demesne is a bubble. A bubble of ignorance and bliss, belonging to the elite and wealthy. Cohn showcased the life of luxury, but also wrote about the ugliness and price of the elite. Everyone on Demesne seemed to only care for one thing, status, and after a while, I was put off. The world within Demesne was intriguing, seeing all of the futuristic details that came into play.

While I was frustrated with some elements of the book, I still enjoyed the story overall. I liked the promise of where the story was going, and hope for better things to come in the next book.

FTC Advisory: Hyperion provided me with a copy of Beta. No goody bags, sponsorships, "material connections," or bribes were exchanged for my review.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars SPOILER ALERT!!! i give away every thing in my review. btw dont read this book, August 14, 2013
This review is from: Beta (Kindle Edition)
i loved the concept. but the murder and after was ridiculous. they build you up on tahir and she just shrugs him off for her swim godwho she felt nothing for. shes preggo by theguy who raped her? really..and then her first isnt even dead. how is that possible. she has all her memorys. i thought the ending had poor taste. it was like the author spent all her time on the beginning andthen just sped through the ending to get it finished. there was not enough build up or back reference to support or help the "twists" at the end. i was very disapointed. excuse my lack of punctuation and typos i have an old kindle and its half broken.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quick Paced & Intriguing, June 26, 2013
By 
This review is from: Beta (Kindle Edition)
I think this book was absolutely stunning. It had a little bit of everything: rebellion, romance, dystopia, pretty backdrops for adventure. This was a well rounded, action-packed read.

+The cover is beautiful. It's shimmery and perfect, just like the island contained within its pages.

+I loved the protagonist, Elysia. She was a cute amount of naive mixed with bravery, determination, smarts, and most importantly, hope. She was constantly trying to play a role that was different then expected, and it left me cheering her on. I wanted her to be happy with a life of her own, away from certain nasty characters that I won't spoil.

+ The island is vividly described. I achieved 'raxia (the state of bliss felt on the island) just by reading about such a perfect place. After all, who wouldn't kill for a chance to lounge by the pool and have others tend to the work? Everyone would- and that's what makes this form of sci-fi terrifying.

- My only real criticism is the bipolar attitudes of non-clone characters. I believe that it was due to the heavy drug use, but in some spots it left me a bit bitter and confused as to why certain characters behaved the way they did.

+- This point is neither positive nor negative, but I felt that there was a lot going on. There's a large amount of characters and races, and I really needed to pay attention to what was happening. For me, this wasn't a quick read.

This book is a great young adult science fiction novel. I am severely disappointed that book two isn't out yet, but I will definitely be picking up a copy as soon as humanly possible.

I recommend this for the YA audience who enjoys dystopian books or science fiction. Those who enjoyed Cinder or Uglies- give Beta a try.

Thank you to The Reader's Antidote for my copy of this novel.
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Beta (Beta (Hyperion))
Beta (Beta (Hyperion)) by Rachel Cohn (Hardcover - October 16, 2012)
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