Thursday 14 August 2014

Review: Replica by Jack Heath

'Whose body is that on the table?' I ask.

She stares at me, as though the answer is obvious. 'It's yours,' she says.

Before I have time to scream, she types a command on the keyboard. My consciousness whirls away like storm water down a drain

Chloe wakes up to find all her memories have been wiped. And the only person who knows what happened is a teenage girl who looks and sounds exactly like her.

Who is she? And what does she want?

Chloe is running out of time to discover the truth. But she's in even more danger than she realizes, and nothing is as it seems . . .

I loved Jack Heath's Money Run and Hit List and I have been waiting impatiently in the hope that there will be more adventures for Ash and Ben. Sadly it looks like this wait has been in vain as Jack Heath seems to have moved on, with his new book, Replica, due to be published in the UK on 7th August. However, my disappointment is more than slightly alleviated by this new book, which possesses all of the Jack Heath trademark twists and turns, within a scintillating science fiction thriller premise.

Replica is one of those books that is very difficult to review as every phrase has to be carefully thought through for fear of creating spoilers. Yes, it is that twisty and turny, and I must warn you to avoid one particular review on Amazon which actually lays out the ending of the book in detail! Seriously, some people are so inconsiderate.

What I can tell you is that Replica has one of the most gripping opening chapters that I have read in a YA novel. In my proof copy, there is a moment at that bottom of page four that literally had my jaw dropping, and then me flicking back to re-read the opening pages to make sure I hadn't missed anything. Naturally, by this point I was totally pulled into the story and struggled to put the book down, so it certainly passes the 'grab the reader in the opening pages' test. As for an unspoilery explanation of the rest of story? The main character is a replica, a pretty much prefect android version of a real teenage girl, even down to memories and consciousness. Why 'she' has been made is something you will have to find out by reading the book yourself. 

Aside from the pace and twists of this book, I also loved the fact that it poses so many moral questions, without them ever seeming to be 'in your face'. There is certainly something of a homage to Blade Runner going on here, and readers will find themselves asking what constitutes life, is it moral to give machines feelings/emotions and what is it that makes us human? Some of these themes gain particular focus as replica Chloe builds a relationship with one of her schoolmates, Becky. It is sad that same sex relationships in YA books are still such a rarity that whenever we come across one we feel the need to give it special mention, but in this case, even if they were a common occurrence, I would still want to highlight it as Jack Heath writes these scenes with incredible subtlety and sensitivity. This is not the use of an LGBT theme for the sake of adding diversity; it genuinely feels 'right', as if replica Chloe having a relationship with a male character just would not have fitted the tone of story quite so well.

Before I go I feel I should mention the story's ending. I am aware of some readers who have found it frustrating, whilst others, like myself, feel that it works by leaving things open, not necessarily for a sequel but for the reader to formulate their own opinion of what happens next. I think it is one of those 'love it or hate it' kind of endings. Go back to Blade Runner again, and think of that ending, whether it be the voice-over original release or the more ambiguous Director's Cut ending. Both leave the viewer with questions about Deckard's and Rachael's futures, and do not ruin everything that came before by doing so. That's my opinion anyway.

Replica by Jack Heath was published on 7th August and my thanks go to the lovely people at OUP for sending me a copy.


  1. I've only read a little of this author's work, but I liked that in Hit List it was the girl who was the action hero, the boy the tech geek supporting her.

  2. Brilliant review - I loved Hit List but for some reason haven't been as drawn to this one. Looks like this has just changed! :)

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