Summary (from Goodreads):
“Elysia is created in a laboratory, born as a sixteen-year-old girl, an empty vessel with no life experience to draw from. She is a Beta, an experimental model of a teenage clone. She was replicated from another teenage girl, who had to die in order for Elysia to exist.
Elysia’s purpose is to serve the inhabitants of Demesne, an island paradise for the wealthiest people on earth. Everything about Demesne is bioengineered for perfection. Even the air induces a strange, euphoric high, which only the island’s workers–soulless clones like Elysia–are immune to.
At first, Elysia’s life is idyllic and pampered. But she soon sees that Demesne’s human residents, who should want for nothing, yearn. But for what, exactly? She also comes to realize that beneath the island’s flawless exterior, there is an undercurrent of discontent among Demesne’s worker clones. She knows she is soulless and cannot feel and should not care–so why are overpowering sensations cloud-ing Elysia’s mind?
If anyone discovers that Elysia isn’t the unfeeling clone she must pretend to be, she will suffer a fate too terrible to imagine. When her one chance at happiness is ripped away with breathtaking cruelty, emotions she’s always had but never understood are unleashed. As rage, terror, and desire threaten to overwhelm her, Elysia must find the will to survive.
The first in a dazzlingly original science fiction series from best-selling author Rachel Cohn, “Beta “is a haunting, unforgettable story of courage and love in a corrupted world.”
This was such an amazing story. I was expecting it to be more sci-fi but it’s actually completely dystopian. Parts of this story made me so angry just because Elysia was treated basically like a chair or random piece of property. Yes, she’s a clone and thus doesn’t have a soul, but she does still have thoughts and feelings. And yet she’s basically ordered around and expected to do whatever any given human wants her to do. That would be horrible enough, except that the orders can definitely include sex. And it’s not even considered to be prostitution—she’s not even viewed as able to give consent. Not that it would matter if she didn’t particularly want to have sex; she’s not seen as a person.
This is an entertaining book but there’s also a lot to discuss and/or think about.