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October 22, 2012

Review: Beta by Rachel Cohn

Hardcover; 304 pages
Expected publication: October 16, 2012 by Disney Hyperion

Goodreads | Amazon
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 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. 

I didn’t hate Beta. I don’t harbor any anger toward it, like some other books I’ve read lately. I didn’t necessarily want to throw it across the room, or call any of my bookish friends to rant about it. Mostly I just paused—numerous times—and was left scratching my head, thinking “What just happened to this story? What am I even reading?”

What the story has going for it? Premise. The first few chapters are promising, before it falls apart.

What the story failed to deliver on? Everything else.

      • The characters are as flat as can be, and while this was appropriate at first because Elysia is a clone and it’s to be expected, it quickly became annoying. Elysia isn’t the only flat character—they all are. Most of them are heartless, too. The only characters with the slight bit of compassion are only in a few scenes, before they disappear.

      • Insta-love that didn’t feel anything like love. The detachment in the characters made their romance impossible to believe in.

      • There is drug use that is completely glossed over. Not only is it not really regarded as a negative thing, the characters actually do the drugs together to make them feel more “connected”. It was bothersome.

      • There’s a second love interest. I’m not sure I would call this a love triangle, as much as I would call it a disaster. The second love interest was just as uninteresting and unbelievable as the first. In fact, the way the book ends makes theirs worse.

      • The first few chapters are engrossing, but then it begins to drag for the majority of the first half. The second half really picks up, but at that point it is “shocking” event after event, twist after twist, none of which were shocking and all of which were ridiculous.

      • Violent and disturbing events that should have made me empathize with the character, but the way they were handled just made me roll my eyes.

Beta seemed written and geared for younger teens, but every now and then something would be thrown in that seemed meant for older teens. I’m not one of those who harp on sex and drug use in YA because these are the realities of the world. However these situations were handled carelessly in Beta, and nothing at all is to be learned from them. There’s isn’t an appropriate balance and I personally can’t recommend it to anyone.

1.5/5 Stars 


  1. those were some of my thoughts too. I disliked it enough to review the book. I wanted to enjoy it

  2. I haven't read this yet. Honestly, I wasn't really planning on reading it at all. But I have read books that have made me feel the same way. I hate when books that seem written for younger readers throw in things like sex and drugs that aren't handled properly for the age group. I don't mind those things in books for younger teens, but I hate when they are only used as filler or for shock value instead of as a learning device for the characters and the readers.

    Jesse @ Pretty in Fiction

  3. I have an arc of this on my shelf and need to get to it soon. I have heard mixed things on it and want to see for myself if its worth it!

  4. wow, this book was new to me, but it sounds like it really left you frustrated. It is hard when characters fall flat. Sorry this one didn't work for you.

  5. This book seems to be getting mostly negative reviews so i won't rush to read it. Thanks for the honest review.

  6. The premise of this book sounds interesting. IT's too bad you didn't like it. I won't be adding this to my to-read list.

  7. I was definitely skeptical of this one and your review solidifies it. But I've liked Rachel Cohn's writing when she collaborates with David Levithan, so I'll try this one out.

  8. I thought this book sounded interesting but based on your review I think I will pass on reading this (I hate insta-love).

  9. This sounds like a great book. Definitely adding it to my to-read list!!

  10. Total bummer as I wanted to get this book for my teen but she is a picky reader so after reading your review, I think I'll skip this one. Thank you for your honesty!

  11. I wasn't sure about this book, I think I might read it now.

  12. hmm This is in my to-read-pile but I might move it to the back. Thanks for the review!

  13. Oh no! I had high hopes for this one :( I think I'll still give it a read but won't buy it. There's so many other books out there that need attention too!

  14. I keep seeing mixed review for this book and I am still in doubt about getting it.

  15. I've read a lot of mixed reviews on this book. I have it but have not read it yet.

  16. I just bought this book as a gift, also. Sounds like it may have been a bad choice.

  17. Thank you for the review. I appreciate that you backed up exactly why you felt the way you did. To be honest it looked like a disaster from the summary. Not to mention the vapid look on the face gracing the cover. Thanks for taking the time to share. We are always looking for good YA for the kids, and your review had helped.

  18. Yikes. I am sorry you didn't enjoy this book. Thanks for reviewing, I won't be reading this one anytime soon.

  19. Yikes, that's a low rating. I really wanted to read this one. Might have to rethink it!

  20. This one was high on TBR list, but I may have to give it another look. I have to connect with the characters if not, I don't waist my time.


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