Book Review: Beta (Annex #1) by Rachel Cohn

Author: Rachel Cohn

Publisher: Hyperion

Release date: October 16, 2012

Rating: 5 stars – I LOVED THIS!

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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 cloud­ing 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.


To say that this book was good would be a complete understatement. It was honestly PHENOMENAL. It completely took my breath away and left me speechless and flabbergasted at the jaw-dropping ending. I actually said, “What da fakkk.”

The synopsis of this particular book is pretty self-explanatory. So I won’t bore you by being redundant at least I’ll try not to. Elysia is a sixteen year old girl who was bio-chemically engineered. She is an exact replica of her First (a human girl who died and made it possible for Elysia to be created). She is made to serve and once she is bought by the Barron’s, Elysia’s sole purpose is to be a sort of replacement for Astrid, the oldest child in the family who left the island of Demesne for University.

At first everything is grand. Elysia is pampered and gets along with Mrs. Barron’s children, Ivan and Liesel. From this interaction with the family, household, and friends – Elysia begins to feel, which should be impossible since she is a clone, unable to be able to feel like a human. But she does and as the story progresses we learn that Elysia isn’t the only one, which leads to the jarring and parallel discontent that I could only compare it to the African American’s wish to be free from being deemed as slaves.

At first, the book to me was slow. There was a lot of world-building involve that I thought dragged. The first day when I picked up the book I honestly wanted to stop reading it all together. But I told myself to keep reading the first chapters because it might get better. I’m so glad that I did. The book picked up tremendously as we followed Elysia through her journey, leaving me completely enthralled and unhinged.

I’ve never read anything similar as Beta in the sci-fi world, which is a major plus in my book. Rachel Cohn gets unique and creative points from moi. It was also brilliantly written as Elysia’s narration slowly transforms from naivety to logical questioning of her existence. It’s done gradually where we see Elysia grow without it being out of blue and unrealistic.

There is just so much about this book that I can go on and on about. There’s a little of everything in the novel. There is, of course, sci-fi – as the setting takes place in the future and where it’s medically advanced to be able to make clones of off people who have died in order for them to be servants to humans. It also falls into the dystopian category because even though the island may seem to be “perfect” it is far from it. Finally, there is romance, humor, action, and unbelievable twists that you will not see coming until the very page or maybe it was just me because yano I am clueless. Lastly, people are not who they seem. You may think you know them…and then, well….THEY DO THINGS THAT ARE COMPLETELY AND UTTERLY NOT RIGHT.

Ahh and like I said, THE ENDING COMPLETELY LEFT ME SPEECHLESS. I COULDN’T EVEN PROCESS THE LAST TWO SENTENCES. It was a major twist that I didn’t see coming. I felt like I was hit by a bulldozer.

All in all, I would recommend it to anyone who loves reading and is looking for a new and unique sci-fi dystopian YA novel. It is definitely one of my favorite sci-fi reads so far this year!


Leave a comment


  1. Does she start to act human? She’s not a robot underneath, is she? She’s 100 percent human in the fact of flesh and bones and blood and all that, right? I read Skinned by Robin Wasserman where she dies in a car accident and her memories are downloaded into a clone, robot replica of herself… couldn’t get much into it because she wasn’t basically human anymore.

  2. Looks like an interesting read!!

  3. I loved this review from the first paragraph. Haha! I had the same reaction to the ending. I need the next book! I love Elysia. She is so adorable. Great review. I see we like a lot of the same books. 😀


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