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Beta Hardcover – October 16, 2012
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3Q 4P J S Beta chronicles the emergence of Elysia, a Beta clone born in a laboratory on a high-end, bioengineered resort island called Demesne. Elysia is special not only for her beauty, but also for her age. She is one of the first teenagers cloned from a First, the human who had to die for her to exist. While her new clone life seems to be idyllic, after a wealthy family purchases her to be their servant, Elysia soon realizes that it is not enough. This simple act of desire is a terrifying one, as it means that she is not normal and may, in fact, be a dangerous Defect: a clone who can think and feel for herself. This is a dangerous secret because clones who rage and resist and love are tortured until their last breath. For Elysia, it is not a question of when she will be exposed, but whether she will fight for her life when she is. A compelling and fast-paced read, the novel offers well-developed characters and a fresh spin on a favorite science-fiction plot. Concerning, however, is the treatment of rape and teenage pregnancy in the final chapters. Elysia, pregnant by rape at sixteen, is offered no other option than to keep the child and be the mate of a man who, while she does not love him, is willing to care for them both. These issues deserve more than a handful of pages, a didactic resolution, and a distracting plot twist.-Courtney Huse Wika. VOYA"
In this kickoff to a planned four-book series, Elysia is a beautiful teenage clone bought as a companion to a wealthy family living on the exclusive island of Demesne on an Earth that is recovering from ecological disaster and global warfare. Though Elysia initially believes she has no free will, she discovers a taste for human foods like macaroni and cheese and chocolate-and, more importantly, begins to feel emotions like attraction, worry, and rage. She also has mysterious memories of the human girl from whom she was cloned, but keeps her discoveries secret, for fear of being marked a Defect. Cohn (coauthor of Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist) describes Elysia's luxurious world completely and persuasively, hinting that social justice themes may escalate in subsequent books; Elysia's evolution from robotic to real is similarly believable, as is her increasing desire for freedom. However, characters' widespread use of 21st-century slang and idioms distracts from the futuristic setting, and readers may be overwhelmed by the dizzying acceleration of events and revelations in the final chapters, which pave the way for the next installment. PW"
For the super-rich, the good life doesn't get much better than the lush island haven of Demesne. Its bioengineered ocean "ripples in patented violet crests" and melts off those unwanted pounds with a single dip. The oxygen-enriched air makes breathing a luxurious pleasure, "like having warm honey trickling sweetly down your throat." And to top it all off, there's a staff of human clones to cater to every need. What's not to like? Even Elysia, a new, experimental teenage clone, thinks she's in paradise-at first. Purchased as a surrogate daughter for the governor's wife, Elysia lives a privileged life, eating with the family, swimming in their pool, hanging out with their eighteen-year-old son and his friends. But as she navigates her way through life as a teenager and a clone, Elysia mulls over why words like insurrection aren't in her language database. She also worries she may be a Defect when she discovers that, unlike other clones, she has a sense of taste and-even more troubling-memories. From page one, Cohn's sci-fi coming-of-age story is riveting, and the sense of place she's crafted is remarkably potent. Her writing, however, can be uneven; Elysia, at various times, comes across as corny, melodramatic, and stilted. Most readers, though, won't mind, and after the cliffhanger ending they'll be counting the days until Beta's sequel arrives. tanya d. auger Horn Book"
Gr 9 Up In the aftermath of global environmental shifts and a series of devastating Water Wars, a handful of the wealthiest people retreats to an exclusive island paradise where everything from the surrounding waters to the air quality is controlled. In Demense, soulless human clones replicated from the recently deceased serve the elite. Though told that they do not feel and despite being programmed to serve via imbedded data chips, the clones, inevitably, do experience feelings and rebel. Elysia is the first teenage clone a Beta. Desperate to prove her worth and remain with her family, she represses her burgeoning feelings until she falls in love with another Beta masquerading as a human. Before long, the two begin to plot their escape to freedom on the Mainland. Because Elysia is a clone with a data chip (albeit a censored one) but no experience, her first-person narration gives a rather limited perspective on the whole sci-fi world Cohn has created. It allows for a complex setting without the need for much explanation or strict world-defining parameters. Still, the easy reading level but mature subject matter gives the book appeal to older teens with lower comprehension skills. The action-packed conclusion thrilling if plausible only within the science-fiction genre sets the stage for a sequel. Nicole Politi, The Ocean County Library, Lavallette, NJ SLJ"
Popular author Cohn's latest book is a foray into science fiction and the start of a series. In the future, after devastating Water Wars, wealthy and powerful people have created the paradise island of Demesne, where even the air is enhanced to be euphoric. The cloned workers who serve there are soulless entities who experience neither emotion nor sensation. The Beta, Elysia, is one of the first teen clones created, and she is purchased by the wife of Demesne's CEO after their oldest daughter leaves for college. Stunningly beautiful and athletic, Elysia has only fleeting memories of her First, the dead girl she is cloned from. The story is most successful when focused on Elysia's awakening, her guileless reporting of the world around her, and her discovery that she can feel, taste, and love. The science of the science fiction isn't well supported, creating some shaky world building that's weakened further by unconvincing plot twists. Still, the premise is intriguing and fans of Cohn's books may find plenty to enjoy. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Cohn's large, vocal following will be eager to dive into the author's first foray into sf. - Lynn Rutan Booklist"
When humans live in paradise, the servants must be manufactured-but are they still people? Elysia is born fully formed, a gorgeous, fuchsia-eyed 16-year-old cloned from a dead human progenitor, her First. On Demesne, an idyllic island, the humans are socialites and surfers, with emotionless clones to serve their every whim. Elysia doesn't feel emotionless, but then, she is a Beta, one of the first of an experimental new line of teenage clones; maybe she's defective. Bought to be a companion to the wife of the island's governor, Elysia finds dark undercurrents among the theoretically perfectly happy humans, but she's too self-centered to care all that much. Instead, she's more concerned with the dreamy human boy she's somehow falling for, as well as the memories of her First she knows she's not supposed to have. Elysia's robotic nature is inconsistent: She sometimes uses metaphors only to misunderstand similar terminology with humorous literalness soon thereafter. Her teenage idiom could be attributed to programmed adolescence, but it works less well for the adult clone who declares "Bummer!" in a training video or the bored human socialite who whines "Bo-o-o-ring!" The childish language and narrative outlook result in a disturbing if effective dissonance with eventual sexual violence. Though neither the villains nor the heroes make particularly sensible choices, the cliffhanger ending will still lure some into the promised sequel. (Science fiction. 14 & up) Kirkus"
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Amazing. Clones created to serve the extremely wealthy on their island paradise. Clones are soulless, they should not be able to feel, they should only desire to serve their... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Angela Baugher
In Beta by Rachel Cohn, our main character, Elysia, happens to be one of the two teen Beta in existence. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Krystianna Straley
As an avid reader and fan of Young Adult fiction, I’m always looking for a new dystopian trilogy to follow, and while Rachel Cohn’s Beta is no Hunger Games or Divergent trilogy, I... Read morePublished 14 months ago by Anna Bjorlin
This book was an amazing journey in a very different world. Nice romance, suspense, and story line. The ending left me breathless and I'm heading to look for the sequel immediately... Read morePublished 21 months ago by Marianna
Slow start and odd pacing; first half slow, second half, fast. Compelling, though.
Maybe a parallel to the world she's built, which is clever, or bad editing, which is... Read more
I just couldn't get through this one and ended up not finishing. The narrator lacked personality (kind of the point, given that she's an android) and it made her voice so flat,... Read morePublished 24 months ago by Aurania
I loved this book, the ending was a total shock. I did not see it coming, really can't wait for the next book to come out . Read morePublished on March 30, 2014 by Kristin Hinojosa