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Book Review: Beta by Rachel Cohn

Reading Beta was like waking up – a slow, growing consciousness of the world around you. It gripped me and wouldn’t let go!

Book Review: Beta by Rachel Cohn

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beta rachel cohn young adult book


Title & Author: Beta by Rachel Cohn

Genre: YA – Science Fiction

Release Date: October 16, 2012

Series: 1st in Annex series

Publisher: Disney Hyperion

How I Got the Book: ARC via the publisher


“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 under-current 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 happi-ness 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. ”

Tearing Up My Heart When I’m With You

If you like your books calm and unassuming DO NOT pick up Beta. It will tear up your heart out faster than ‘Nsync lyrics. This book is INTENSE.

Let’s start with Elysia. She reminded me of Zoe from Glitch a little. Both girls experience the world and people for the first time. Elysia is a clone – she was created because her “First” was dying and they cloned her body and removed the soul.

Elysia is bought by a family to be a companion to two children after their sister goes away to school in far-away Biome City. Oh did I mention, Elysia lives in literal paradise? Everything from the location of the island of Demense to the sand to the residents is fake, perfect and deceiving.

As Elysia lives with this family, she learns and observes and processes. She has a data bank of information but is constantly checking it for strange slang her pseudo-brother uses. It’s really interesting to “watch” her experience the world as if she was just born.

As the novel progresses, I couldn’t stop reading. Could. Not. Stop. You witness the loss of Elysia’s innocence as she sees how terribly the other clones are treated, how vapid and purposeless the lives of Demense’s residents are and how many secrets and horrible truths Elysia uncovers.

But When We Are Apart I Feel It Too

Beta is a sci fi reader’s dream. There is tons of cool technology, like an anti-gravity game, and futuristic spins on life. What I absolutely love, though, is that Cohn has left humanity the same. People are still conniving, prejudiced and cruel. She uses the dark side of people’s hearts to show that no matter how much we advance, people will always stay essentially the same.

Although that takes a bleak look at life, another truth stays the same in Beta: the fight and struggle to survive and to discover who you are. Elysia takes that journey and chooses a difficult path.

Cohn also adds in a TON of twists. I mean, I was stunned by some of the revelations she unloads. It was amazing. I mean, how many times have you see a “twist” a mile away and was unimpressed? Not so with Beta.


After a huge, HUGE cliffhanger, I’d dying inside. I need more Beta – and quickly. This is a must-read of 2012. You still have time. Make sure you put Beta at the top of your reading list.

About Lisa Parkin

I'm a hardcore lover of young adult fiction and have been reviewing books since 2011. Other interests include Downton Abbey, heat lightning storms, Harry Potter land and (begrudingly) one orange tabby.