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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.

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.  Praise for Beta : "A terrific premise that is equally well executed...Readers can only hope [the sequel] will be as thrilling as this series kickoff."-- Los Angles Times

331 pages, Hardcover

First published October 16, 2012

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About the author

Rachel Cohn

37 books2,216 followers
Rachel grew up in the D.C. area and graduated from Barnard College with a B.A. in Political Science. She has written many YA novels, including three that she cowrote with her friend and colleague David Levithan. She lives and writes (when she's not reading other people's books, organizing her music library or looking for the best cappuccino) in New York City.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 954 reviews
Profile Image for Megan.
521 reviews343 followers
November 1, 2012
I won’t mince words and as a result I am going to spoil this book a little. If you are afraid of spoilers, please don’t read on. Fair warning.

When a book uses rape as a plot point, especially when the character was initially a supporting and caring brother-like figure, I get pissed off. When this is compounded with the rape victim getting pregnant and those around her not allowing her to get an abortion because her child is too special, then that just makes me rage. BETA has this and more, which made me struggle with giving this one even two stars. It gets bonus points for one reason – it is compulsively readable and fast paced. But other than that, this book deserved one star for a number of reasons, and it’s why BETA will probably go down in infamy as my most disappointing read of 2012.

BETA follows a soulless clone, a girl named Elysia that comes off strongly as a stereotypical robot – a slave, unfeeling, uncaring, focused solely on her duty. When a soulless clone is narrating a first person present tense story, though, you are running into a big issue. Elysia oftentimes felt very, very flat, as if she was the victim of a 6 year old’s fanfiction. “I did this and this and went here and saw him and this and this.” If this story had been told instead in a third person past tense, it might have been more successful, even if at times this personality-less visage disappeared – it was inconsistent at best.

Elysia’s love interests are pretty much stock characters, and each fall victim to instalove in their own right. Tahir is the boy with secrets, handsome and compelling but just as bland as Elysia. Alex is the boy we don’t meet for several hundred pages, but a boy with a deep connection to Elysia. And then Ivan, the boy who is apparently head over heels in love with Elysia while making drugs and preparing to enter the military.

The secondary characters are generally bland. Mother and the Governess are stock rich characters you might find in the backdrop on Revenge. The Fortesquieus (Tahir’s parents) are slightly more relatable, given more of a back story that allowed me to connect with them more than any other character than possibly sweet Liesel, the daughter of the family that owns Elysia. When we meet the other teenagers of the story – bland Greer, sexed up ditz Demetra (aka Dementia – a rather intellectually impaired girl used as a sex object throughout the story – and as an object to make fun of her intelligence), among others – we do not delve very deeply into this world more than into tales of parties and rule breaking and general disobedience, nothing that adds to this dystopian world of man versus clone.

But where this story lost all credibility for me was the point where Elysia reveals to her brother-like figure Ivan that she has feelings for Tahir. Up until this point, Ivan had felt like a calm, conscientious figure that trusted Elysia and wanted to be her friend. She put her trust in him and he did the same with her. Then suddenly he morphs into a devious figure that assaults her, choking her and raping her to lay his claim to what he thinks is his property. And then she kills him and runs off, saved by the good graces of Alex.

Within what feels like 3 days, they have pledged their undying love for one another after a rather ludicrous explanation of his hardcore eco-warrior religious society’s mating for life deal when SURPRISE! Elysia is pregnant. She demands an abortion, but Alex and her other savior refuse. They force Elysia to carry her rapist’s child, saying that the child is too precious, too special to abort, and use the same tactics of hardcore pro-life groups to convince Elysia to carry the child that she does not want.

What. The. Fudge.

I will admit, I am VERY pro-choice. Then again, I am a hardcore left wing nutso, so that could explain things. I do not agree with using rape as a plot point, followed by a propaganda-ish demand that a rape victim carry the rapist’s baby for no real reason other than plot. Mixed with pointless drug use, including helping drug a boy so that he loves her back, and the dreaded use of suicide threats when the boy of her dreams (that she has known for two weeks) is taken away from her, I began to seethe.

This rarely happens except when domestic abuse, rape, and damaging relationships are promoted heavily. Elysia’s baby is treated as a gift from God, and with the smattering of biblical passages and revenging eco-religious warriors, I wonder how much of this novel is some weird pro-life propaganda tool. I mean, that’s probably not the case, but when it hits me in a side thought that it seems like something a conservative Christian would foist on their child, that is not a good sign.

I cannot recommend this book. I want to so badly – the plot on paper is amazing and unique, and could have so many opportunities to explore the relationship between the rich and poor, between humans and clones/robots, between science and humanity. Instead, it became an instalove fest of drugs, rape, and the underlying message that a girl should not abort a child thrust upon her by a rapist, even if that child threatens her emotional health and wellbeing.

VERDICT: Featuring rape, drug use as a tool of control, and an anti-abortion message, BETA thrashed my hopes for an epic story. At least it was fast-paced.

Profile Image for Giselle.
990 reviews6,364 followers
October 9, 2012
While Beta has a fascinating premise of clones in a perfect world, there are a lot of elements in the plot that I found either unnecessary, or very off-putting. At first I thought I could overlook these qualms, but they kept piling up on top of one another until it toppled and became too much for my taste. The ending, however, almost brought this to a 3-stars as it actually caught me off guard for once. I would never have expected it--though this may not be the case for everyone--and it makes me somewhat curious about the sequel. Could other readers enjoy this one? Most definitely. If constant drug use - by adults and teens -, rapes, and slavery bothers you, however I suggest you avoid it.

Beta's world building is depicted very slow and elaborately, filled with long descriptions of the pretty, perfect island they're residing on. I enjoyed this at first as it creates a wonderful, scenic portrayal of Demesne, though after a while I found myself skipping these winded paragraphs as they began to simply bog down the plot. It was not long before I was yearning for more technical world building with all this imagery. Cloning being a very fascinating matter, we're not told nearly enough to convince me of its logic in this case; why a deceased body is needed in the first place. Then comes the addition of souls into the matter which only amounted to making me uncomfortable as I'm not sure where I stand on this way of thinking. This is the downside of adding a spiritual angle as a means of explanation--not everyone will share the beliefs, or be open to it. If one lives and breathes, how can they not have souls? Or if, like me, you take a more scientific approach, it all comes to matter and energy, therefore, if a body has a source of energy--aka life--you'd have to mess with brain function to make someone have no desire or taste. It all comes down to realism, and how much you need to suspend disbelief. Maybe my head's too thick, or maybe--and this is the story I'm going with--I'm simply too smart for this book! Ha!

All of this is not helped with the very slow pace of the book where more often than not, I was going over the logic of the story, scrutinizing it. In addition, as it takes a long while for the plot to make its appearance, we're left in the midst of winded historical happenings and flat character dynamics. Elysia's character--the Beta--starts off likeable with a fun narration since she doesn't know a lot about society. This all goes downhill after she meets Tahir, the love interest. What follows is a dispassionate romance and bizarre unraveling events that leave our protagonist erratic and rash. One could argue that her behavior is purposefully written as such for she is a dysfunctional clone, yet, her awareness and thought process is inconsistent with this theory. In the end, she simply failed to charm me. So did any and all of the supporting roles. There was a lack of heart in each of the characters, because of which they fell flat.

Having a lot of controversial subjects could make this a very hit or miss novel. The plot basically consists of buying clones for slavery. Even though these are supposedly unfeeling, no souls clones, their treatments as objects--accessories to flaunt and play with that includes sexual activity (or assault depending how you look at it)--did not sit well with me. If a clone is found to have human traits such as taste, emotion, or otherwise, they are tortured and killed. Why? For research of course... Furthermore, throughout the novel there is constant talk of "raxia", the apparent drug of choice for almost all residents of this perfect utopia. This drug--which is never particularly described--is used recreationally, regularly, and mentioned constantly. I still don't understand the need for this to have been included in the book at all. It adds nothing, neither entertainment nor substance, to the story.

As a shell, this book has great potential with its unique, exciting premise. Inside this shell, however, is whole slew of problems that go from mild to simply asking for trouble. I'm not sure who I would recommend this book to, but it would definitely need to be someone with an open mind. It does have a flair of eccentricity and exciting dramatics that I could see readers enjoy, so I will leave this up to you.

An advance copy was provided by the publisher for review.

For more of my reviews, visit my blog at Xpresso Reads
Profile Image for shady boots.
500 reviews2,036 followers
November 8, 2012
This review is also available over at my blog.


Actual rating is 3.5 stars. This will be a long ass review, by the way, I'm just warning you right now.

This book didn't turn out to be as bad as I was expecting. In fact, most of the time I actually enjoyed myself while reading. Am I a little disappointed, though? Well, not really, because I had low expectations from the start. I'm pretty pleased that it wasn't as horrible as most of the reviews I've read made it seem.

In the world of this book there is an island called Demesne, which is pretty much a paradise on earth, visually perfect in every way, and home to the most wealthiest people on the planet. In this island, the humans are served by clones, who are modeled from actual people that had to die in order to be cloned. The clones are unfeeling and designed to work and serve all of the humans on the island. That is so because, if humans tried to do any work, they would barely be able to accomplish anything due to the euphoric air of Demesne. Everyone on the island strives to achieve maximum ataraxia, which basically means pure happiness.

Elysia is a Beta, one of the first teen Betas ever created. When the wife of the Governor purchases her, she experiences a life serving the Bratton family, one of the most wealthiest families in all of Demesne, and she takes on the roll of being a companion to Mrs. Bratton's kids, Ivan and Liesel. At first Elysia is content with her life, but soon she starts seeing visions and memories from her First, the girl she was modeled after who had to die in order for her to exist. And she also discovers that she is able to feel human emotions. She must then make the choice of keeping her secret and living the life she was destined to lead, or fighting for the chance to live her own life.

I really liked the whole concept of the book and thought it was pretty unique. And also the author's writing, especially the descriptions. I was able to actually see Demesne vividly, and I could even feel myself being there. As for the world building, well, I don't usually critique that, but in this book I felt like there isn't really much info on what happened before Demesne. Maybe several paragraphs here and there, telling of how there was this war called the Water Wars that destroyed everything, but then the humans eventually started rebuilding again.

I do hope that as the series progresses, there will be more insight on the rest of the world outside of Demesne. There's a city called Biome City that is mentioned a lot, but is never actually one of the locations during the book. Although I do see it being a possible location in the sequel.

Like any dystopian book out there, there's always a resistance or rebellion of some sort. In this book it's called the Insurrection, and I believe it consists of these things called Defects, who are clones that are able to feel human emotions. What caused this could probably have been a drug called 'raxia, which gives whoever consumes it an even more intense physical high than the air in Demesne, and basically ataraxia in the form of a pill. Anyway, I also hope there will be more insight on the Insurrection stuff as well as the series continues, cause I didn't feel like I saw much of it during reading.

My problem with this book is the romance. It is extremely shallow, and kind of reminds me of the romance in the Vampire Queen series by Rebecca Maizel, in that it's pretty much mostly based on looks. Both of Elysia's love interest are extremely muscled and gorgeous, and she had insta-lust for them at first sight.

The main love interest is....well, I'm not even sure which one anymore. At first it was Tahir, the son of the most wealthy family in all of Demesne, the Fortesquieus. I can't really say much about him without giving massive spoilers, but I will say that him and Elysia's romance was crappy, vapid insta-love.

The other love interest is one that doesn't appear until very, very later on in the book, the boy that Elysia sees in her visions, the boy who had a romantic connection with Elysia's First. He's a mega-muscled surfer god and extremely gorgeous, of course, and Elysia constantly gets her panties wet over him. Nearing the end of the book it gets really ridiculous. Elysia just becomes too heavily in lust with this guy that she pretty much forgets about Tahir. Also, if I had a penny for every time there was a description of his flawless muscles, I would probably be able to buy all of Demesne. Some of the things Elysia thought of near the end, when she was getting all down and dirty with the surfer god dude (whom I will not name for some reason) really made me dislike her. A lot.

This book is pretty heavily sexual, even for a YA. Everyone wants a piece of Elysia, really. And I mean everyone. Nearing the end there was a very disturbing rape scene, and it really surprised me because the one who raped her was not at all the man I was expecting. It was really disgusting, but soon after that, things got a turn for the better when Elysia practically goes berserk, which I enjoyed. I didn't really care much for the other characters in the book. They were all so extremely shallow—well, I guess that's to be expected, due to the whole theme of the book.

Nearing the end, Rachel Cohn pretty much just continuously bitch slaps you with unexpected twist after unexpected twist. There were so many, I could barely even handle them. The ending was the biggest twist of all, and it was a pretty huge cliffhanger that made me want to see what happens next in the series.

Overall, this was a pretty enjoyable read, despite its obvious flaws. I would recommend it, I suppose, but I don't think it's for everyone. I apologize for the extremely long review. xD
Profile Image for hayden.
1,054 reviews732 followers
Want to read
March 16, 2015
I would LOVE to read this on NetGalley . . .

. . . but apparently, Disney-Hyperion "isn't accepting blogger requests at this time."

It's okay, Rachel. I'll own your book . . . eventually.
Profile Image for Nafiza.
Author 6 books1,206 followers
December 4, 2013
The cover of this book is so amazingly beautiful that I spent a few minutes being creepy and caressing it. The satin finish of it complements the colours and the model is so incredibly beautiful and the cover merges so very fantastically with the content in the novel. I went into this book knowing that it was about clones and that’s about it. I have read other books by Cohn and liked them so I was reasonably confident that I would appreciate the writing if not love the story. I didn’t start the novel and love it immediately. No – well okay, let me restart this review so I don’t sound so fractured.

In Beta Rachel Cohn presents readers with a utopian society existing on an island engineered to be paradise on earth. From the rejuvenating waters of the sea immediately surrounding the island to the fresh and pure air pumped in the atmosphere to the aesthetically pleasing clones manufactured to serve humans in all capacities. Our protagonist, Elysia, is one of these clones but she’s a Beta, that is, one of the first teen clones ever manufactured. Now, I do not know much about science but I felt that the explanation and the process of clone-making is thought out but obfuscated from the readers for reasons that become clear at the end. Cohn does a remarkable job in world building though and her world actually makes sense – it could have been a dystopian setting – maybe it is but somehow, I doubt it. The entire novel takes place on Demesne, the human-engineered paradise, with brief mentions of other cities that, waterlogged though they may be, still exist.

There are two major reasons I loved this book. The first one is Elysia. At the beginning, she is more machine than human and I was so impressed by Cohn’s ability to successfully portray a being who is a girl but not a girl. It is way more difficult to do than it seems. There is a definite growth in Elysia as the book grows and you can almost see her begin to cohere into something, someone, more than what (and who) she is created to be. Her questions are endless as she seeks to learn more about this world she has emerged in, as she gradually realizes the concept of personal freedom, of owning herself rather than being owned by someone else. She is not a shade of the person from whom she was cloned, she is her own person and Elysia seeks to prove that once and again, in her thoughts and her actions. She takes what little agency she has and she utilizes it. She avenges herself and she saves herself. She is not ashamed of her sexuality and she is not apologetic of her desires. For a being who was born perfect, she is charmingly flawed but at the same time, there is this sense of innocence about her that reminds you that no matter what she behaves or looks like, she is not human. She is something other.
“What’s a slut?” I ask him.
“A girl who puts out too easily.”
“Puts out what?” I imagine Greer putting put dinner and don’t understand what Ivan wouldn’t like about that.
“Puts out, you know…” His face, already beet red from our run, turns a darker scarlet. “Sex.”
I wonder where Greer puts the sex out. (pg. 59)

The second reason I really liked this novel is the plot. Oftentimes, I can predict what’s going to happen next but this was definitely not the case with Beta. I won’t say too much about it because I don’t want to give anything away but I would definitely love to discuss the book with you once you’re done because Cohn makes some brave narrative decisions that leave me curious as to where the story is going to go. The book ends in a cliffhanger and while I am a bit nonplussed by that (as opposed to being annoyed), I am more than curious to know what happens next. Because Cohn takes what I thought I knew about the world, the clones and the humans and turns it upside down so all I have are questions and no second book to answer them. It’s a good cliffhanger though. I liked it.

The novel deals with themes of greed, rampant materialism and rigid class system. It asks the reader what it means to be human and asks whether you have to be born and created in a womb to be human. It asks how you can quantify souls and how you can say something that has never even been seen or measured can be said to exist in one person and not in another. Demesne could easily exist in the world. Highly exclusive, highly illegal and highly coveted – the island where just breathing makes a person feel better is perhaps the ultimate vacation destination of the future. What are the implications of a society so bent towards leisure and pleasure that they would manufacture humans to be little more than slaves – no worse than slaves?

I could go on and on about this book – talk about the relationships, the power dynamics and so much more. But I think it would be more fun for you to go and find out for yourself how awesome this book is. Strongly recommended.
Profile Image for Giselle.
1,057 reviews906 followers
March 23, 2016
Elysia is the second teenage clone Beta, still with flaws she is sold to a prominent family on the perfect Utopian island Desmesne. Her goal is to be a perfect companion to her human family. But when she meets another teenage Beta, and she starts seeing her First's memories, she starts to question what is right for them and what is right for her.

Manufactured perfection in a little island called Demesne, I thought it sounded just perfect. But we all know that nothing is perfect. Everyone is beautiful and young or they try to be.. These families are one of the most superficial and snobbiest characters I've read. I wouldn't be caught near any of these people in real life for fear of wanting to punch them. And even though they are humans, there is also the master race called the Aquine who are genetically engineered people with great looks and strength. I loved the world that Rachel brought to my attention and I liked the technology she created like the grav games which would be terribly exciting if they created it in real life. I also thought the lavender waters would be too perfect to see and swim in and was a nice touch for me to imagine such a world.

As I'm reading along I really did want there to be an uprising and a rebellion of sorts against the humans making the Beta clones privy to the right to live, but that wasn't what I received. There are three instances in the end that didn't seem necessary and I was quite horrified to learn what transpired. It was too much all in one go and I wanted to ignore it for my review but I just couldn't. I thought it was a bit ridiculous to be honest. If those things didn't happen I would have loved this. Especially with that cliffhanger ending! 

Beta seems like it could have delivered a flawless story about humans and cloning, but it didn't. It exploded its own execution.



"Talking to soulless creatures is less exhausting than interacting with their own kind." (124)

"I must remain a toy to stay alive." (181)

"I would rather die than for us not to experience our own freedom." (251)
Profile Image for Jon.
599 reviews626 followers
December 11, 2012
Seen at Scott Reads It!

**I would like to thank Disney-Hyperion for providing me an ARC on NetGalley.**
Beta is one of those books that came with alot of hype and publicity. I read many mixed reviews for Beta but I didn't let that stop me from reading it. Beta has a super interesting concept but I don't think it was executed well. This a book where there is an extremely slow paced plot where throughout the majority of the book nothing seems to happen. There was way too much dialogue and not nearly enough conflict. Beta joins the ranks of books like Matched where the romance is way too overwhelming and slows down the plot. To say I'm disappointed with Beta would be an understatement.

Beta takes place on Demense, an island that is considered by it's wealthy residents to be flawless. The air on Demense even gives the residents an ataraxic high. Clones are employed by the residents of the island as servants who fufill the residents of Demense's every whim. These clones are replicated from dead humans who are called Firsts but clones do not have memories of their Firsts.

In addition to not having memories of their Firsts, clones are not supposed to have emotions otherwise they are considered defects. Defects are illegal due to the fact that they aren't the mindless zombies the residents of Demense want them to be. Clones also have a tattoo that reveals what their occupation is on Demense. I really enjoyed the descriptions and anecdotes about the clones on Demense.
Our protagonist is Elysia was adopted by a general's family and lives on Demense. She is a Beta, an experimental teen clone which makes her unique on Demense. Elysia begins to realize that she isn't the mindless clone everyone thinks clones should be. I did like Elysia but her perfection became extremely annoying. She was extremely athletic, social, smart, pretty and the list goes on and on. The fact that she displayed emotion didn't make her anyless perfect in my opinion. The emotions made her stronger as a character and helped her face challenges.

I wasn't a fan of the romance of Beta at all because it seemed superficial. When I read romance I like it to feel that the characters have a connection but Tahir and Elysia didn't have any connection. Their so-called romance was superficially built on looks and I feel like they barely knew each other. As soon as Elysia meets Tahir it's insta-love and she begins to swoon over Tahir. I really liked Elysia until this point because she felt very strong and independent. As soon as she met Tahir she was extremely reckless, rash, and ignorant and I felt like she was too smart to be so brainwashed into believing that it was true love. Seriously you know nothing about him at all and you still think you're in love? That's not love at all it's purely ridiculous infatuation.
The plot of Beta seemed to be almost conflict-less and bereft of any action. Beta moved at a very sluggish pace that I struggled to keep reading. At a certain point there way too much swooning and insta-love until I couldn't take it anymore. For 85% of the novel there was so little tension and eventful things that I could have just skipped it all. If I had just read the last 15% of Beta after reading the beginning it wouldn't have made any difference because virtually nothing happened at all. I became so extremely bored with Beta that I kept putting off reading it and at a point each page felt like a struggle. By the time I reached the ending where something finally happened, I was too bored out of my wits to care at all. Also Beta was way too predictable and I knew what was going to happen 99% of the time. Beta was way too cliche for me and predictable for me.

Rachel Cohn decided to explore very controversial topics such as sexual abuse and drug use in Beta. I didn't really think she handled these topics well in Beta at all because everything felt so nonchalant. The teens on Demense are constantly using a drug 'raxia to achieve ataraxia. Doing 'raxia really had no importance in the book at all and it just felt extremely unnecessary. There was no deeper meaning where people are warned that drugs are bad for you at all so I am not sure why this was included in Beta. Why are clones sexually abused? There are cases of sexual abuse in this book but they didn't feel serious at all. I think these scenes were way too casually executed because sexual abuse is a serious issue. The mentioning of sexual abuse in Beta seems just randomly added in because it doesn't even feel like an issue. Rachel Cohn doesn't even make us have empathy for the character who got sexually abused. The sexual abuse in this novel didn't appear to have any significance at all and it bothered me how it felt just effortlessly thrown in.

Beta wasn't the book for me at all. If you enjoy reading sluggishly paced books with no conflict at all, Beta may be your fix. I don't really enjoy romances when I can't even like the male romantic interest at all. Beta has a serious case of insta-love to the point where it is extremely painful to read. I really felt like Beta had a ton of potential but Rachel Cohn focused way too much on romance. The chances of me reading Beta's sequel is as likely as the world ending in 2012.
Profile Image for Bren fall in love with the sea..
1,574 reviews270 followers
November 18, 2020
“Everyone on this island wants something kept quiet.
I want to roar”
― Rachel Cohn, Beta

This book is about Elysia, a human clone who was made..born..in a lab. I had never read a book about a clone before but being a fan of dystopian novels I wanted to try one out and chose Beta.

I did enjoy this book..sort of. The writing was excellent. I loved the warm descriptive imagery of the tropical island and I love that it is slow moving so the reader can take their time and think about what is happening.

My one issue..and it's the thing that kept me from really loving this book..is that it sort of descends into YA territory. There is nothing wrong with YA. I read all sorts of genres and I like YA. But the tone changes and the focus becomes romance..and I just could not get into that aspect of the book. Added to that, the tone itself moves away from the descriptive imagery and moves really into YA speak. I got a bit turned off by that and found my attention lagging.

So in summary I'd say I thought the first part of the book was better then the second. And now for a


As others have mentioned there is an unexpected act of violence that I was not prepared for and I did not se coming. I also felt it was not in keeping with the actions of the character who committed this violence. I have very mixed feelings about Beta. I felt it was well written but was trying to be to many things..a Dystopian novel, a YA romance, a piece of Women's fiction. So it was a little disjointed for me although I would really like to give it 3.5 stars. I do wish Goodreads had .5 stars!

I still found it an enjoyable read but not amazing as I'd hoped.
Profile Image for Amy.
252 reviews30 followers
December 17, 2012
Extremely predictable for most points (about the secrets of different characters), so that was annoying... but what wasn't predictable at the end of the book then became major issues for me to give this story a bad rating.


A girl is raped by her adoptive brother and this is emphasized for ONE PAGE? And the resulting pregnancy is FORCED to continue? Elysia's entire self-development is about her right to choose for herself... and the biggest choice of her life is then taken away from her... and she's COOL WITH THIS?

Not only that, but Elysia is more than willing to have sex with a man barely a week after she was raped?

This book shows an extreme lack of understanding or sympathy to rape victims and what they have to go through after the trauma.

If this information had not been used as a dramatic plot twist, then I would have given the book 3 stars. But it doesn't deserve it after that ending.
Profile Image for Emily.
54 reviews6 followers
November 18, 2016
Clones have not suffered as badly as most other sci-fi/fantasy creations have in the recent field of YA literature. Cloning! How interesting is that? Not to mention that they’re (presumably) genetically altered clones created to be immune to the bliss-inducing skies of a tropical island. I bumped this novel to the top of my to-read list as soon as I added it and waited until it came in at the library.

I started reading.

This is an accurate depiction of my face at any given moment during that time:

Plot: The cost of paradise doesn't come cheap in the future, where the world's richest and most influential people gather on the blissful isle of Demesne. While the over-oxygenated air produces a lasting sense of calm and pleasure, it makes any sort of labor impossible for whoever ventures to the island. Clones make running life on Demesne possible, but are cruelly forced to perform all of the work necessary to keep society running and have had their souls removed from them at creation.

As a new beta model of teen clones, Elysia has a secret: she can feel. She has independent thoughts and ideas of rebellion are growing increasingly common within them. If anyone finds the truth about Elysia she will be taken and experimented on to find the cause of her defect. With no one to turn to or anywhere to hide, will Elysia survive paradise?

Can you understand my fascination? Science fiction, clones, and a seemingly perfect paradise that hides a dark secret? I was ready for action and rebellion, usually adoring novels from the perspective of a protagonist who isn't quite human.

Instead, 75% of the novel was this:
That's right, this book with its amazing premise focused not on the science, suspense, or anything else of value. It was mostly about the "slave" Elysia being required to hang out with the teen son of her owner and his friends. This isn't my cup of tea, but if you're looking for a book filled with scenes involving teens enjoying leisure time, acting like clichés, and doing drugs, this book is for you!


ELYSIA: I expected a badass, unhuman, original babe to lead this story through its dramas. Instead, I got the air-headed Elysia who spent most of her time dreaming of boys and engaging in some of the most ridiculous conversations I have laid my eyes on with her mandatory-friends. Has the author ever spent any time around a teenager? Was she even a teenager herself? Elysia, as well as all of the other teens in the story, act as if they just came out of a freaking Disney channel sitcom, but with drugs, sex, and the occasional SAT-worthy vocabulary word thrown in.

Every action Elysia took warranted a groan of annoyance from me. She talks big about how the clones suffer hard lives while the humans party constantly, but never does a thing about it. Instead she rather focuses on all of the totally HAWT boys on the island and negatively describes the other teen beta, the one who was not as perfect as she was. But of course when something bad happens to one of the clones, she jumps right back on the 'my people!!!111!!!' bandwagon.

Elysia was a joke and one of the worst protagonists I have ever read. EVER.

IVAN: As soon as I was introduced to this bundle of joy, the douche-alarm in my mind went off. Big time. He's the pampered, oldest child of the island's governor, and he's supposed to be preparing himself to a life in the military. Honestly, I don't care what sort of corrupt future this story takes place in, I doubt any military would let this prick enlist. He does drugs, calls women sluts, and is obsessive over Elysia (but more on how that culminated in the worst possible way later). All-in-all, Ivan's the winner of 2014's "Biggest YA Dick" award. It's not as flattering of an award as it sounds.

TAHIR: It wouldn't be YA if there weren’t some guy for our protagonist to lust over, right? Tahir, initially, had a lot of potential and I hoped he would help Elysia to stop being such a terrible protagonist. Instead, she lays her eyes on him and wants him in a way that is maybe supposed to make me blush?
Give me a minute to make sure my eyes have stopped rolling.
Elysia, you reduced the only character with potential to the guy you slobber over and have dirty thoughts about. Thanks for depriving me of an interesting character.

Setting: Demesne is a tropical island, presumably in the Pacific Ocean. I've never been on an island before, short of South Bass Island in Lake Erie. Yet I felt that Demesne was tropical and could feel the heat of the sun as they spent so much of the book on the beach. I honestly started to worry they were going to get skin cancer. The only good thing about this book was how the author described the surroundings.

As far as world-building is concerned, I had a lot more questions. Here's an example of a status update I made while reading: "Why do clones drink strawberry shakes? Why can't someone dead be cloned after they've been dead over 48 hours? Why are the clones immune to the over-oxygenated air? Why does over-oxygenated air make everyone high? Why can't teen clones grow to be adult clones? What happened during the Water Wars? Why does a volcanic isle have limestone cliffs?


I think it speaks for itself.

In place of where I usually have my 'Random Thoughts' segment, today I introduce a new feature in its place, called...

How Offensive Can This Book Get?

A short warning, the following discussion will talk of some of the more problematic parts of this novel. Trigger warnings for rape/sexual assault. Heavy spoilers below.

Sex: Most teen works touch on it (not a pun), but few dive into it as readily as Beta does. Let me say this: I have no issue with YA books featuring sex and romance. In fact, I'm a huge fan of works that cover it and make it seem natural, healthy, and loving. This was not how Beta rolled.

Elysia obsesses over two main boys: first, Tahir, and then a mystery boy that appears to her in visions, who is later revealed to be the boyfriend of the girl Elysia was cloned from. Elysia also admits that these two men arouse her and she wants to be intimate with them (healthy and natural)...and then she wonders, "Was my First a slut?" (unhealthy slut-shaming). Ivan also calls one of his friends a slut because she 'puts out'. Meanwhile, guys like Farzad and Tahir can sleep around and no negative comments are made on their sexual habits. Double-standard, much?

Clones, unfortunately, are often forced to sleep with their owners. A book covering topics of prostitution are okay. Books featuring it without making a single solid statement against it? Not so much. Elysia mentioned that it happened, sometimes, but there was no further discussion of it.

At the climax of the book, Elysia is raped by Ivan. She stabs him and murders him the next day. Aside from this, it has little other impact on Elysia other than that she has 'been made a consort for humans'. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? This is one of the worst handlings of rape I have had the misfortune to read. You don't just write a rape into a novel for entertainment/shock value, to create a climax because you're too lazy to write an actual plot, or to garner sympathy. HOW DARE YOU, COHN.

To top-off this pile of WTF, Elysia is revealed to be pregnant with Ivan's baby. What will she do? Her first reaction is to get it out of her, that she can't care for it, that she's a wanted for murderer and has only just started living. The woman who found that she was pregnant (they're in a jungle and this 'healer' found that she was pregnant...one week after the rape? Let's just throw biology out the damned window, shall we?) tells Elysia that she IS going to keep the baby, that she WILL NOT get an abortion, and that she is going TO LEARN to care for it. Oh, plus the hunky blue-eyed HAWT GAWD from Elysia's visions is real and he has imprinted on her, meaning that she IS going to marry him and they will care for the child together.


Racism: Although less blatant than the disgusting way the author handled sex and rape, this book still had a few questionable thoughts on the topic of race. Firstly, when Elysia first meets Tahir and is smitten, she has the following thought: "It's like he's a real live Prince Chocolate. Delicious."
Tahir is of Tunisian heritage.
You don't refer to him as 'Price Chocolate' even if it some stupid inside joke about you and your little sister play a virtual reality game where a prince is kind and sexy and offers you chocolate. NO.

There is also a race called the Aquine, which are 'genetically perfect'. Only one Aquine is extensively mentioned in the book, and he has blue eyes, blond hair, and white skin. That appearance, paired with the idea of a 'superior' race whose named starts with an A, can you blame me for thinking that the author is basing this race off of the Aryan race? This might just be an oversight, but it’s hard for me to believe that nobody in the publishing process noticed this before.

Body shaming: The other teen beta, Becky, is not as pretty or as special as Elysia. She is not drop-dead gorgeous and is described as "with frizzy brown hair that looks like a jumble of rat's tails, eyes on the sallow pink side of fuchsia, and a jaundiced complexion. She is also fat, at least two sizes about the cellulite-free standard ideal known as the 'Bikini Body', the island's preferred aesthetic."

First, almost all women have cellulite, unless they are extremely thin or have had some sort of surgery to get rid of it. Second, why does it matter? Can't Becky have some other job? She's going to be doomed to a lonely life because no one wants her because she's "fat". Great message to send YA readers.

review updated from a version posted on July 11th, 2014
Profile Image for ♠ TABI⁷ ♠.
Author 15 books485 followers
September 26, 2019
This was on of those was one of those impulse borrows. Neat looking cover, interesting plot on the inside cover...I thought, "Eh, what the heck?" and brought it home.

My mind needs to be bleached. And my eyes.

I am so glad I decided to start this one before all my other library books.
The story-line and idea was pretty original...and the writing wasn't half-bad either, but it's a tangled mess where the main plot points are all sexually related and turned this from what it's sold as (YA dystopian thriller) into something most definitely not young-adult. Very disappointed in this book and I wouldn't recommend it at all.
Profile Image for Bonnie.
455 reviews7 followers
June 26, 2012
Ready for a new heroine? Katsa, Katniss, and now Elysia, the clone. Water Wars have changed the earth, but the richest people have managed to create a special island, Demesne, with pure air, lovely violet water, and a population of clones to do all the work. Most of the clones are fully adult, but the doctor in charge is now experimenting with teen clones, still in the Beta stage. The governor's wife buys one for her family and is delighted with the beautiful, compliant, young woman. But Elysia gradually learns that there are many questions to resolve. Who was her First and what happened to her? Why are the few human teens on the island experimenting with a powerful drug? Who is the man she glimpses underwater? And the biggest question of all--is she a Defect? As Elysia gradually uncovers one shocking truth after another, the idyllic life gives way to danger on several fronts. The first in a trilogy, this engrossing fantasy seems destined for popularity and the big screen.

(I read this in galley form.)
Profile Image for Evie.
711 reviews924 followers
October 20, 2012
A provocative, intellectually stimulating and emotionally engaging tale of humanity, identity, ethics and free will, BETA is, in a word, fascinating. In this fun to read, absorbing and unique novel, Rachel Cohn addresses some interesting ethical issues about the pitfalls of cloning and bio-genetics. She introduces us to a great new heroine that, engineered to serve the wealthy residents of Demesne, is forced to either obediently follow all the rules or die. Disquieting, thrilling and haunting, BETA is the first book in what quickly became one of my new favourite YA dystopian series!

Set on an idyllic island inhabited by only the wealthiest, most powerful people in the world (Demesne), BETA tells the story of Elysia, a first in a new generation of teenage clones. Elysia's life is not her own. She is a clone and therefore she does not experience emotions or desires. She is merely an expensive toy, a servant, a valuable possession designed to do whatever she's asked to do. While she's a novelty that her owners like to show off to their friends, she's also totally expendable and even the smallest hint of being a "defect" will result in her immediate termination. What will happen to Elysia when she'll discover that she might be, indeed, a defect? Will she find it in herself to fight for her life and freedom? In a world where clones are nothing more than slaves, and emotions and desires - a sign of imperfection, is there any hope for this unwanted clone who so desperately wants to live?

BETA has a lot to offer. It's well-written, fast-paced, filled with jaw-dropping twists and unexpected - at times even shocking - plot developments. From the first page to the last, it's a wild, breathtaking ride that is sure to surprise you at least a few times. The captivating and convincing prose ensures that even its most bizarre futuristic themes and improbable situations remain believable, the characters - relatable. Rachel Cohn created a world that, though a little bit underdeveloped and sketchy on the details (and possibly purposefully so!), is simply fantastic. Unsettling, cold and emotionless, yet beautiful and undeniably compelling. It's not a flawless book, but Cohn's greatly enjoyable writing style makes the few flaws and shortcomings easy to overlook and results in a perfectly satisfying, exciting story. Moreover, BETA is not only an action-packed and highly entertaining futuristic noir, it's also a multi-dimensional and thought-provoking morality tale. An affecting picture that is rich with metaphor, ambitious, and thematically relevant. Featuring themes such as discrimination, search for identity, equality, free will and slavery, it's an insightful examination of what it means to be human - to live, feel and want.

I enjoyed Elysia's first-person narrative and thought it worked way better than a third-person narrative would. I thought she was a great, likeable protagonist and while some of her decisions made me raise my eyebrows a little, overall I found her character quite realistic (as much as a clone could be) and relatable. In the end, I can say that I grew attached to her and enjoyed cheering her on. It was compelling to see the world through her eyes and watch her explore, learn, and experience all the new things for the first time. Her inexperience often lead to many funny situations and hilarious misunderstandings. At the same time, though, while some parts of the story were amusing, even heart-warming, the overall tone of the story was serious, quite unsettling and dark.

Another aspect of this book that I really loved was its mysteriousness. There is so much going on within the pages - from cloning and rebellious movements against it to Elysia's personal experiences and adventures - yet most of that is covered with a veil of mystery and secrecy. And while we do get some answers at the end, many of the questions are left unanswered. For the most part, the story line was positively unpredictable. The tension never let up and kept me on my toes all throughout the book. The only thing I could possibly complain about is that I now have to wait so long to find out what happens next! And that ending?! Oh. My. Gosh. Talk about a killer cliffhanger!
Profile Image for Katy.
611 reviews333 followers
June 4, 2012
3.5 stars - Gotta love a sci-fi dystopian book with a cliffhanger.

This book wasn't what I was expecting - your typical "I'm a clone, and I'm not allowed to feel" type of book. Yes, that was what this book was about, but I hadn't realized that Elysia was purchased to serve as a member of a privileged family and a companion to her siblings and their friends.

I will say it took a while for me to get into the Book. Cohn uses a lot of description - which I have yet to decide if it is a good or a bad thing because it gives readers a very vivid idea of the setting and what people look like but it also bogs down the story a bit. And Cohn built a world with so many colorful characters, but they don't play a huge significance to the actual story - particularly the other teens like Greer's attitude, Farzad's anger or even Dementia's wildness - but even Mother's foolish friends or the "in" people. Like I said, the description is there, but I felt it was a bit of a waste with no where to go.

I struggled a bit at first. The mood was just a big stoic - which I can understand because readers are introduced to a new Beta who is not supposed to be a Defect. But at the same time, I hard a hard time keeping an interest in the story, and it took me several attempts to continue reading.

But about halfway through, we stop having to experience Elysia learning about her new world, the current slangs and their meaning and what customs are considered appropriate not only for humans but for her as a clone.

This book was full of surprises and caught me off guard in more ways than one - Elysia's first Z, the mysterious water god, the Aquine, developments with Tariq�, her brother Ivan and the cliffhanger at the end. The second half definitely made up for the lack of action in the first half - which is my reasoning for bumping up the 3.5 to 4 stars.
Profile Image for Kogiopsis.
763 reviews1,477 followers
July 18, 2016
Beta is a shining example of an idea that was clearly just not thought through enough.

Its basic concept is one with obvious appeal: clones allow for an interesting exploration of ideas of personhood, and making them property of the uber-rich brings issues of class into the mix. This premise could have been a fascinating and philosophical one, but… instead it gets dragged down, reflection on the nature of humanity drowned out by romantic subplot.

Perhaps most important, though, is Cohn’s choice to tell this story from the perspective of a blonde, white girl who (as we are constantly told) is conventionally attractive. This is not a choice made with ill intent, but at the same time: as an American reader, it was impossible for me not to see parallels to historic chattel slavery in this book, from the roles the clones play (some relegated to physical labor, some favored playthings of their masters) to the sexual exploitation they face, the way everyone around them insists they are by nature soulless, the fact that they’re denied relationships amongst themselves, and finally . While much of this is an element of any kind of slavery, given the background of the United States, I found myself wondering why a story touching on things that actually happened to black women was told through the eyes of a white woman.

In general, I got the feeling that the book never quite wanted to engage deeply with the issues it raised. Teen drug use is a major component of the plot, but is hardly examined. The inhabitants of Demesne live in absurd, over-the-top luxury, but even as the audience is shown how this is built on the back of enslaved clones, we’re also treated to pages-long descriptions of Demesne’s fashion and fripperies, as if we are also supposed to admire or long for this life. Elysia is property, but she’s uniquely privileged and (generally) better-treated, until the climactic end of the book. Much of the violence and tension of the building rebellion happens off the page, far from her seemingly charmed life, while romantic entanglements and teen drama make up the focal point of the on-page time.

The romantic plot is riddled with a lot of the usual attitudes towards sex found in YA. We get some slut shaming (one of the secondary characters is called a slut, and then brushed off as boring because there’s ‘nothing mysterious about her’; later, Elysia wonders if the First from whom she was cloned was a slut, because - gasp! - she feels lust for two different guys), an actual physical relationship, and then what feels like hasty reassurance that though the characters involved have been giving each other orgasms, they haven’t done “the actual deed”. Because… it’s penis-in-vagina sex that’s the capstone of all intimacy, folks. Everything else isn’t as real, and apparently nothing else they did qualifies as actual sex? (not a good message to have directed at teens, who often don’t get nearly enough information on consent and STDs anyway.)

Anyhow. This book was published in 2012, which is way too recent for this kind of crap.

The book’s ending is… well, it’s a mess. There’s a lot revealed/explained/set in motion in the last three chapters or so, and all this information is delivered in a rush. Additionally, the level of violence escalates rapidly and shockingly, with long-term consequences which make it all so much worse. By the time I finished the book, I was thoroughly worn out and disgusted, and you could not pay me to read a sequel.
Profile Image for Lettersalad.
179 reviews37 followers
January 21, 2013
Elysia ist ein Klon, eine Teenager-BETA, wie es sie zuvor noch nicht gegeben hat. Normalerweise werden auf der idyllischen Insel Demesne nur erwachsene Personen geklont. Ohne Seele, eigene Gefühle oder Bedürfnisse. Ihr Wissen stammt lediglich von einer Datenbank im Gehirn, welche die Klone jederzeit abrufen können.
Sie dienen den Menschen, ohne Fragen zu stellen. Elysia wird an die Frau des Governors von Demesne verkauft und muss in ihrem neuen, luxuriösen Zuhause fortan als Unterhaltung für die beiden Kinder Liesel und Ivan herhalten. Doch Elysia stellt schnell fest, dass irgendetwas mit ihr nicht stimmt. Sie hat Erinnerungen, die unmöglich von ihr selber stammen können. Sie hört Stimmen, die sich nicht kennt. Sie hat Geschmacksnerven, die Klone eigentlich nicht besitzen.
Kann es sein, dass ihr Körper sich an ihre First, das heißt an ihr früheres, menschliches Ich erinnern kann?

Die Story mag zunächst ganz interessant klingen und erinnert in der Art etwas an die Skinned Reihe von Robin Wasserman. Doch die Umsetzung von BETA kann ich einfach nicht anders beschreiben als: Katastrophal.

Es war vor allem Protagonistin Elysia, die mir das Lesen richtig schwer gemacht hat. Sie wird in jedem Kapitel mindestens ein Mal als „perfekt“ betitelt, was sich aber ausschließlich auf ihren Körper bezieht. Und genauso denkt Elysia selber auch. Ich musste mich immer wieder daran erinnern, dass die Klone Emotionen nicht selbstständig fühlen und erleben, sondern sie lediglich mittels ihrer Datenbank erfassen und verarbeiten können.
Andernfalls hätte ich wohl Elysias Unwissen fortdauernd mit Dummheit verwechselt. Starke Emotionen wie Liebe definiert Elysia rein körperlich, beschreibt bei jedem Menschen, der ihr begegnet nur die körperlichen Vorzüge – vorrangig die ihrer männlichen Bekanntschaften. Ob sie es nun nicht kann oder nicht will, Elysia schafft es nicht selbstständig zu denken und zu kombinieren, geschweige denn den Charakter eines Menschen kennen zu lernen und zu schätzen.

Bei mir warf dies schnell die Frage auf, inwiefern die Klone dann tatsächlich einem Menschen gleichgesetzt werden können? Denn genau dies hat sich eine Gruppe „aussortierter“ Klone in BETA zum Ziel gesetzt.

Noch schlimmer fand ich dagegen den Versuch des Aufgreifens vieler ernsthafter Themen, die besonders Teenager betreffen und wie dabei jedoch immer wieder nur an der Oberfläche gekratzt, sich im schlimmsten Fall sogar noch darüber lustig gemacht wurde.
Magersucht, SSV, Sex, Vergewaltigung, Mobbing, Drogen, Selbstmord etc.; alles findet hier auf den spärlichen 400 Seiten Platz, doch auf nichts davon wird auch nur annähernd tiefer eingegangen. Und wenn dann Sätze fallen wie: „Steh hier nicht so dumm rum oder ich ritz dich“ (S. 123), dreht sich mir der Magen um. Übrigens ein Satz, welcher genauso gemeint ist, wie man ihn auf den ersten Blick versteht.

Was sollen junge Leser aus diesem Buch mitnehmen? Liebe auf rein körperlicher Basis zu definieren? Bitte nicht! Die Ausgrenzung anderer Menschen oder Lebewesen nicht zu tolerieren? Dies wäre eine schöne Moral für dieses Buch gewesen, doch durch die schwache Darstellung der Protagonistin wird dies in meinen Augen hinfällig. Sogar das Gegenteil ist am Ende der Fall, denn auf den letzten Seiten entwickelt sich Elysias Charakter in eine Richtung, die Unterdrückung und Zwang sogar noch akzeptiert.

Dieses Buch ist einfach verwirrend, widersprüchlich, frustrierend, beängstigend leichtsinnig und hat mich am Ende einfach nur stinkwütend zurückgelassen.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
662 reviews2,254 followers
July 26, 2012
Elysia is a new beta, one of the first trial teenage clones. She is sold to the Bratton family to be a replacement for their daughter Astrid who moved away. Elysia is to play with her new "brother and sister" Ivan and Liesel. She must also call the woman who bought her "mother." Clones are made and sold to work on the island. They have different tattoos on their face according to their jobs. They have no feelings so the drugged air does not affect them and they will work hard. Demesne's island has separate rules from the rest of the world but there are people that protest clones and the island.

Elysia enjoys her new life until she begins remembering things from her clones life, and she starts tasting, and feeling. If anyone found out she was a Defect she would be destroyed. Elysia hides her love of chocolate and her feelings. She has memories to access but still has to learn slang and about the world. Owners don't want their clones to feel and rebel. Elysia likes hanging out with Ivan and Liesel and then she meets Ivan's friend Tahir and wants more. She wants to be with him. The Bratton family loan Elysia out to Tahir's family and they have more in common than she thought but she also can't stop thinking about her clone's lover. Elysia's clone, Zhara, had to die in order for Elysia to be created. In this world sometimes people even offer to die for money so clones can be made. Very disturbing.

Tahir was an interesting character but at times kind of boring. I didn't fully understand why Elysia loved him. She was attracted to him but he was cut off and distant from his accident. Elysia was determined to make him feel for her the way she felt for him. It seemed like it was only a physical attraction. I guess she is a clone and doesn't understand love yet but I felt like she shouldn't have to work so hard to make something work. He does have a backstory that allows things to come together between them. I just never felt to connected to his character but I felt bad for his situation. The clone characters were always interesting but just kind of hard to connect with. There was some humor in their naivety and when Elysia was learning slang.

The family that bought Elysia don't seem too evil at first. But as we see the way they treat clones I slowly began to hate them. There were some very disturbing scenes where clones are used for sexual things. I should warn there is also a scene where Elysia is forced as well. The world building of the island was different. It is for only the richest of the rich. The entire island is meant to be so relaxing and luxurious that even the water is drugged and calming. Even with the entire island being a drug the citizens still also take a drug called raxia. That was beyond crazy. The book held my attention but the treatment of the clones was very sad and disturbing. There are some Defect clones that are planning a rebellion but we don't learn too much about it in this book, it mostly revolves around Elysia learning and growing. There is a shocking cliffhanger.

"But surely this chocolate provides it; I think I love it even more than that stupendous concoction called macaroni and cheese. I wan to round up all the chocolate souffles on the dinner table and devour every one."

"Lambs here are created from the poorest people. They voluntarily sacrifice their lives to be turned into clones."
"I can't imagine why they would do that."
"They do it to provide financially for their loved ones after their soul extractions."

"Sarcasm: well mimicked. But no, something even more exciting. I'm trying to make my own 'raxia."
"Why? Is not the kind you illegally obtain satisfactory?"

"Tahir!" Ivan exclaims. Ivan and the lone figure called Tahir do the 'bro fist-and-shoulder-bump think indigenous to the Whoa! species.

"She gave him her heart and he walked all over it." Dementia pauses while I try to image Tahir placing his foot on Astrid's beating heart.

"Guess what?"
I shrug. These humans and their guessing games are starting to annoy me.

"He is so tall and so-freaking-gorgeous. I totally get why she was obsessed with him. I data check this horrible sensation and discover what it is. Swooning is what I am experiencing for this man I just a moment ago so impulsively slapped.
I refuse."

"I am given no choice about where I would like to go, or how I am just told. More and more, I understand why human teenagers become rebellious. It must be so they can take control of their own lives."
Profile Image for Greg.
69 reviews44 followers
November 4, 2012
It's a little futile to talk about YA dystopia novels, much like horror movies, procedural TV shows, romance novels, and tween pop. Each genre has its formula firmly in place and an audience who views formula not as laziness, but as a salve against an unpredictable world. There might be small tweaks to the formulas here and there and the occasional meta hat-tip, but by and large it's mostly the same ol' shit. So Beta was pretty predictable save the ending when , unfortunately I have this medical condition where sequel-baiting, when an ending has no other purpose other than to try to force you to watch/read the sequel, makes me want to slap a puppy. Think of the puppies! Don't sequel bait. Okay, seriously. I hate sequel-baiting.

Rachel Cohn does do what she can with the plot, what little of the interchangeable parts she can futz with. Beta is very well paced as Cohn takes her time world-building (predictable dystopia disguised as utopia, but still) before she speeds up Elysia's discovery of Defects until the ending seems inevitable (also predictable), yes, even . Cohn builds to that moment even though it was uncharacteristic, but characters were weak across the board. Foreshadowing include the Governor's treatment of Tawny and Elysia, Ivan's reaction to seeing the Governor and Elysia, and Ivan's increased 'raxia use with the added testosterone.

I think Beta's greatest weakness is Elysia's voice. Cohn tries to show Elysia's descent into Defect-ness and possibly the Awfuls by varying her diction, incorporating more and more teen lingo. I didn't think either aspect of Elysia's voice worked. Cohn can't decide whether to pitch Elysia's voice as robotic or childlike so her voice never quite settles down. Then when the teen voice kicks in, Elysia's already-wobbly narrative becomes completely untenable. It's worse because we take all our cues to her character from her voice, so a weak voice means weak character.

This is a disappointment for me. Cohn is a much better writer than this.
Profile Image for Kathylill .
162 reviews173 followers
August 18, 2013
I so much enjoyed the story and characters and the world building. This is no run of the mill dystopian young adult romance. This novel actually had more chocolate flavor to it than plain vanilla.

What I liked was the slow development of characters and social interaction in this book. There is no insta love attraction but romance slowly emerges into the novel. I really enjoyed reading the unhurried and vivid description of the island and its inhabitants.

When I think about the romance and love interest in the book, … to me it shows that nothing in this world is perfect and no amount of money or science can make the world perfect. You have the richest of the rich who created a perfect environment, but under the surface people’s heart can still be broken, people can still be unhappy. It is from Elysia’s perspective, a very naïve and “unawakened” perspective we start to see deeper into this perfect world. Lies are better than truth, the rich country club ladies drink heavily alcohol from morning to evening, and the brother abuses his sisters while the parents don’t care to see. Money can’t buy you love, can’t make the dead resurrect or love you again. A clone is not the same person as the one providing to its genes.

I have to state, that this book really was surprisingly different from the mass dystopian YA novels out on the market following the same pattern over and over again.
Profile Image for i..
331 reviews33 followers
April 2, 2013
One of the very few disadvantages of using an e-reader is that you can't really enjoy beautiful covers just like the one on this book,but it is also true that you are less likely to buy a book because of the cover.

Beta is more than a beautiful cover,though.It's the story of Elysia , a clone with no soul who starts having human feelings and desires even if she was created in a laboratory.And it is also the story of the people who surround her .

Demesne , the island where the novel takes place , is like heaven on Earth,but unlike in heaven good deeds are not necessary to get in , only wealth .The rich and the powerful do as they please on the island and despite being human and having souls their behaviour is rather inhuman .

Are clones better than the humans who created them?Are they really capable of feeling love and what about hatred?.The book answers some of these questions and ends with a cliffhanger that makes you want to continue reading.

May 14, 2021
After reading (and enjoying) many others by this author I came to my egalley of Beta with high expectations that the book utterly failed to live up to. While the world is interesting the character development felt poorly paced. This would have normally still earned 3 stars from me but for two major issues: a race of characters in the book that are genetically modified to be the "best elements of human kind" and are therefore utterly Aryan and worshiped by normal people for their beauty AND a nasty anti-choice message at the end that makes no sense in the context of the book's major themes of imprisonment and choice.
Profile Image for Adeline.
65 reviews
January 25, 2021
This book belongs on my "was-poop" shelf for several reasons: Number one, there is no plot, I mean, literally nothing happens for 85% of the book an then the last 50 pages an entire plot that is filled with holes tries to form itself. Second, the rules of the setting make no sense, some people are clones, some people aren't, some people are pretending to be human but are actually clones, but there is no explanation for why the clones even exist in the first place. Third, the author decided to shove her very strong beliefs, very blatantly right at the end. The way it was done just irritated me. It had no connection to the story and was simply bad writing. This book was just annoying and I regret making myself finish it.
Profile Image for Dichotomy Girl.
2,008 reviews129 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
May 13, 2019
So, my library e-book of this expired when I was at 40% of this, and I couldn't put it on hold again, as it looks like the library's e-book license also expired. As I don't care enough about the rest to buy it. This is going to be a DNF for me.
Profile Image for Christina (A Reader of Fictions).
4,230 reviews1,650 followers
February 16, 2014
Originally reviewed on A Reader of Fictions.

Before I got to read this one, I saw a few non-flattering reviews roll in, so I was on my guard, prepared for another in a string of disappointing reads. Thankfully, I enjoyed Beta pretty much all the way through, although I am definitely immensely skeptical about where the series is heading.

Beta takes place on an island paradise, home to only the richest and most fashionable of people. These people are so rich that they have clones, programmed to be emotionless and get work done perfectly, to take care of them, because, honestly, human butlers and nannies are just so last season. The rest of the world is not so nice, and is very different from the one we know today. Details on that are somewhat limited in Beta, but I hope to learn more about the Water Wars and what the cities are like in later installments.

I do need to talk for a bit about the concept of the clones to serve this island. Honestly, I don't get it. They talked about why they needed them: because good labor is too difficult to find, since the island didn't have natives and travel to the island is exceedingly expensive. That's nice and all, but I'm FAIRLY CERTAIN that producing clones is about 80 billion times more expensive than that. Also, the whole process seems suspect to me. For one thing, the person being cloned is supposed to be dead, which makes me wonder where all of the hot, dead people are coming from. Another problem with I have with this is the whole business about how they separate out the soul from the body. Did I miss when we figured out where the soul is? Has a physical soul been located in the future?

Betas are not supposed to be able to feel or taste anything. They should be, essentially, like robots. Elysia, our heroine, is a beta, a test clone for the new teen line. Because she is gorgeous (stacked), she sells quickly and goes to serve as a companion in the home of a wealthy family. It quickly becomes apparent that Elysia is not what a clone should be, which I am thankful for, since her first person story would have been VERY boring were she actually the way clones are meant to be.

Thankfully, I did not find her narration boring at all. Cohn's writing often amused me and I really liked the rhythm of it. Basically, she used the beginning clone section for comedic value. Even early on, it's apparent that something is wrong with Elysia's programming because she is so incredibly curious. As such she asks lots of inappropriate questions. For additional reader amusement, she interprets things very literally, like wondering where a girl 'puts out the sex.' This humor was obvious, but I must admit I was still entertained.

Cohn makes an attempt at twists, and there are several in here. Most of them I saw coming from miles away. Pretty much as soon as a character was introduced, I would predict that x and y would happen to them and then a hundred pages or more later, it would. The twists at the end did get me, though, I will admit. Basically, there are enough surprises that she'll likely catch you off guard once or twice.

For most of the book, I was okay with the romance. Just okay. I don't especially care for either guy (yes, a love triangle, and one that I suspect I will come to loathe). Tahir sounds totally dreamy. Were I Elysia, I would be all over that one, because he sounds delicious. Besides, he's actually there, which helps. Still, I did not really experience any feels at their romance. Mostly, I just wanted her to enjoy herself, because why the hell not. The other boy has a history with her First, aka the girl she was cloned from, and she knows him from a brief memory. He holds no appeal for me. Still, the dynamics of the love triangle were interesting enough thus far.

Did you notice that I have mentioned THE END a couple of times as having been somewhat distinct from the rest of the novel for me? GOODNESS GRACIOUS, THE ENDING. I really wish that I could talk about this in detail with you guys, but I won't because spoilers. Here's what I can say. Things get darker, which I give Cohn props for. Something I thought was coming but kind of didn't think would happen because it usually doesn't in YA DID happen, and it was painful. That part of the end was good in a painful way.

THEN there's some things that I am just all kinds of not cool with, which sucks because I had such a pleasant reading experience up to that point, despite my nitpicking above. What it comes down to is that some trope-ish things happen all in a row and I am REALLY concerned about whether I will like the next book at all. If anyone has read this book, I would love to discuss!

So, for the review skimmers, I will say that I enjoyed reading Beta quite a bit, but I am not altogether sure how I feel about it. A lot will hinge on whether you like Cohn's writing and what happens in book two.
Profile Image for Brina.
1,951 reviews119 followers
March 20, 2013
Die Autorin Rachel Cohn war mir spätestens seit "Dash & Lilys Winterwunder", das sie zusammen mit David Levithan geschrieben hat, ein Begriff. Von daher war ich besonders gespannt, wie ich den Auftakt ihrer neuen Reihe "Beta" so finden werde. Leider konnte mich das Buch nicht so von sich überzeugen, wie ich es im Vorfeld erhofft habe.

Rachel Cohn hat mich bislang mit ihrem Schreibstil begeistern können, bei "Beta" war dies leider nicht der Fall. Ich weiß nicht, ob es am Plot direkt lag oder sogar an mir, aber ich hatte von der ersten Seite an das Gefühl, als wollten wir einfach nicht zusammenpassen. Sehr schade, denn die Kurzbeschreibung klang sehr vielversprechend und ich habe mich auf ein paar angenehme Lesestunden eingestellt, doch leider war es gegen Ende dann doch eher eine Qual als ein Lesevergnügen. Der Anfang war noch relativ gut und ich habe versucht, mich auf die Geschichte einzulassen, doch je mehr ich gelesen habe, umso mehr wurde ich enttäuscht.

Leider waren auch die Charaktere mindestens genauso flach wie die Geschichte selbst. Elysia fand ich am Anfang eigentlich ganz nett. Sie ist ein Klon und sollte somit eigentlich keine Gefühle haben und ist nur geschaffen worden, um den Menschen als Sklavin dienen, allerdings ist sie anders, denn sie kann Gefühle empfinden und dies sollte laut Meinung der Menschen nicht sein. Sogenannte Betas, wie Elysia eine ist, werden lediglich geschaffen, um den Menschen als Sklaven zu dienen, jedoch steckt in Elysia weit mehr. Sie hat ihren ganz eigenen Kopf und hinterfragt Dinge, so möchte sie u.a. keine Sklavin mehr sein und ist auch dazu bereit, um ihre Freiheit zu kämpfen. An sich eine sehr schöne Einstellung, aber dennoch hat mir bei ihr einiges gefehlt. So hätte ich mir u.a. mehr Tiefe, sowie Ecken und Kanten gewünscht. Tahir hat ebenfalls auf den ersten Blick einen netten Eindruck gemacht, allerdings konnte ich nach einiger Zeit nicht mehr viel mit ihm anfangen, da er mir viel zu flach erschien. Man merkt zwar, dass er ganz anders als die anderen Jugendlichen ist, die ohne sämtliche Perspektiven in den Tag leben, aber dennoch wurde ich mit ihm nicht warm.

Selbstverständlich darf bei so einer Geschichte eine Liebesgeschichte nicht fehlen. An sich war diese ganz nett beschrieben, jedoch habe ich weder Elysia, noch Tahir die Gefühle abgenommen. Alles wirkt sehr oberflächlich, stellenweise auch kitschig. Es wirkt schon fast so, als hätte diese Liebesgeschichte unbedingt noch ins Buch hinein gemusst, damit das Buch dicker wird. Das Potential ist sicherlich vorhanden, nur leider wurde es an so vielen Stellen nicht genutzt, bzw. nur sehr lieblos umgesetzt.

An sich ist die Thematik sehr interessant. Klonen ist nach wie vor ein Thema, bei dem sich die Geister scheiden. Ist dies wirklich ein Schritt in die richtige Richtung oder ist es vielleicht doch nur ein wahnsinniger Eingriff in die Natur? Dürfen Menschen überhaupt die Macht haben, andere zu klonen? Das Buch kann sicherlich zum Nachdenken anregen, wenn man sich voll und ganz auf die Geschichte einlassen kann, doch leider wollte mir dies nicht so ganz gelingen. Interessant ist jedoch, dass es sich bei "Beta" um kein typisches Jugendbuch handelt. Gut, es gibt eine Liebesgeschichte, aber diese verläuft stellenweise so ganz anders, als man es in anderen Jugendbüchern her kennt.

Wirklich schön ist jedoch das Cover, das mir direkt ins Auge gesprungen ist. Die Farben und das Gesicht passen gut zusammen und geben ein schönes Gesamtbild ab. Die Kurzbeschreibung ist ebenfalls gelungen, schade, dass der Inhalt da nicht mithalten konnte.

Insgesamt konnte ich mich mit "Beta" leider nicht wirklich anfreunden. Schwache Charaktere und ein recht flacher Plot konnten mich leider nicht an das Buch fesseln. Sehr schade, denn Potential ist definitiv vorhanden. Die Folgebände werde ich dennoch nicht mehr lesen.
Profile Image for Melliane.
2,023 reviews340 followers
December 15, 2015
Mon avis en Français

My English review

Après avoir lu de nombreux avis vouant les mérites de ce livre, j’étais vraiment curieuse d’en apprendre plus.

On découvre dans ce roman l’île de Demesne, une île très étrange et différente des autres. En effet, tout y a été modifié pour répondre aux multiples attentes des personnes qui peuvent se permettre de payer un séjour. Et pour cela, l’air même a été modifié pour être de meilleure qualité, c’est-à-dire possédant une grande teneur en oxygène, chose qui est connue pour relaxer et rendre heureux les gens. Mais tout est fait pour avoir ce genre de conséquences. Que ce soit la légèreté de l’eau, la beauté des paysages ou encore la culture du chocolat. Mais il y a quelque chose de plus, quelque chose qui rend cette île encore plus particulière. C’est la seule à fabriquer et produire des clones humains, des êtres utilisés à partir de personnes décédées récemment. Ces êtres sont censés être obéissants, sans émotions, sans goût, seulement prêts à tout pour faire de leur mieux dans la fonction qui leur est attribuée. Mais voilà qu’apparaît dans ce monde Elysia. C’est l’une des premières versions béta, une adolescente. Personne n’a jamais eu l’occasion de tester une jeune fille telle qu’elle, tous les autres modèles étant déjà adultes. Alors quand une femme veut l’acheter pour l’utiliser en tant que compagnon, c’est-à-dire en tant que « fille », Elysia est plus qu’heureuse de quitter le magasin où elle attendait que quelque chose se passe. Elle va ainsi découvrir le monde et ce qu’il s’y cache.

C’était vraiment intéressant de découvrir par les yeux d’Elysia comment Demesne était régie. Notre héroïne comprend très vite qu’elle n’est pas comme les autres clones et que sa différence pourrait bien la mener à sa perte. Elle va cependant continuer sa vie, évoluant, apprenant, découvrant ses sentiments et espérant pouvoir un jour atteindre la liberté. J’ai beaucoup aimé ce personnage, elle est si naïve en début de roman. Elle ne cherche qu’à comprendre le monde et y participer. Et même si les gens avec qui elle vit la prennent pour leur « fille », ce n’est qu’un mot et les sentiments de chacun envers les clones ne changeront pas. C’est assez triste de voir qu’ils ont tous peur des Défaillantes, ces clones qui dérivent de leur tâches, qui commencent à ressentir, à vouloir, à changer. Mais Elysia ne se laissera pas faire et fera tout pour être acceptée.

En commençant le roman j’ai beaucoup pensé à un film, The Island. Un film datant de plusieurs années mais qui partait un peu d’une idée semblable. J’ai beaucoup aimé ce petit roman, c’est intriguant de connaître les subtilités de ce monde et des personnages qui nous sont présentés. Tout le monde cache quelque chose et ment pour préserver leur secret. Nous apprendrons tout petit à petit et j’avoue qu’il y a des révélations que je n’attendais pas vraiment. En fin de romain j’ai d’ailleurs été assez surprise (bien que j’eus établi cette hypothèse) et c’est vrai que je suis maintenant assez curieuse de voir ce qu’il va advenir à nos personnages.
Profile Image for Jessy Rey.
111 reviews4 followers
July 4, 2014
Ich habe selten erlebt, dass jemand aus einer guten Idee so ein flaches, langweiliges, enttäuschendes und widersprüchliches Buch fabrizieren kann.
Elysia ist ein BETA – ein Klon einer First (eines Teenagers, der verstorben ist) nur in einer besseren Version. Quasi. Sie hat keine Gefühle und ist seelenlos, gibt keine Widerworte, schmeckt nicht und kann generell nichts tun, was ihrer „Familie“ missfallen könnte. Der perfekte Diener, oder nicht?
Es ist eine Zukunft auf der Insel Demesne, alle sind reich, alles ist toll und so weiter und sofort.
Irgendwann stell sich heraus: Oh, die seelenlosen, gefühlslosen Sklaven haben doch Gefühle. Man erwartet jetzt natürlich, dass Elysia irgendwie gegen ihr Dienersein aufbegehrt. Aber nein, sie macht einfach weiter. Gibt sich mit den reichen Jugendlichen ab, deren einziges Ziel es ist möglichst heißt und toll und genial auszusehen.
Und ich kann euch sagen: Ich wäre vor Langeweile fast gestorben, habe mich von Seite zu Seite gequält und da es ein Wandernotizbuch war, die Seiten mit bissigen Kommentare gefüllt.
Rachel Cohns Stil ist ebenso langweilig, mittelmäßig und wenig mitreißend. Sie verliert sich dauernd in irgendwelche Beschreibungen, wiederholt sich dutzende Male und saugt sich irgendwann anscheinend einfach irgendeine Handlung aus den Fingern.
Als Leser schaltet man irgendwann ab…. Bis ja bis! Tatsächlich etwas passiert und man verwirrt aus der Wäsche schaut. Ein Zeitsprung und kawumm, der Versuch es spannend und schockierend zu machen. Leider ein absoluter FAIL.
Selten so eine wirre, unlogische, langweilige Story gehört. Die Protagonistin konnte ich auch absolut nicht leiden, Elysia handelt einfach DUMM. Anders kann man das nicht sagen. Ein plötzlicher Love Interest taucht natürlich auch auf. Und dann noch ein zweiter. Oh und ein dritter. Den wollen wir ja nicht vergessen.
Korallenfarbende Lippen – wie oft ich dieses Wort gelesen habe. Da würd ich ihr die Koralle gerne gegen den Kopf feuern.
Fragen werden nicht beantwortet, es werden eher neue aufgeworfen. Immer weiter, bis man ungefähr so dort sitzt:


Und ja, Rachel Cohn hätte die Möglichkeit auf viele ernsthafte Themen einzugehen und nutzt keine davon sondern geht eher noch in die andere Richtung.
Eine Generation aus Idioten wächst heran, die an einem Pseudo Aufstand mitwirken und absolut auf das Aussehen fixiert sind.
Und dieses Ende. Absolut. Die Krönung! Wer es bis jetzt nicht verstanden hat, wird jetzt gar nichts mehr verstehen.
Hab ich schon erwähnt, dass ich das Buch nicht mochte?
Ich fand BETA wirklich grausam, kein Buch lässt diese bösen Gedanken in meinem Kopf so aufleben, wenn ich daran denke.
Profile Image for Jillyn.
732 reviews
July 14, 2014
The island of Demesne is a utopia. Humans aren't bothered with trivial things like work, only luxury and leisure. Instead, the work is done by clones- servants cloned from the recently deceased. Void of souls and feelings, they are perfect for a life of servitude. Elysia is a Beta clone- one of the first few teenage clones in existence with a rampant threat of defects. On the island pf perfection, defects mean death. But Elysia isn't like other clones. She can taste food. She can remember memories from her First's life. She learns that there are others out there, others who are planning a revolution. Elysia must choose her side, and risk everything in order to claim what clones were never meant to have- a life of her own.


I think this book was absolutely stunning. It had a little bit of everything: rebellion, romance, dystopia, pretty backdrops for adventure. This was a well rounded, action-packed read.

+The cover is beautiful. It's shimmery and perfect, just like the island contained within its pages.

+I loved the protagonist, Elysia. She was a cute amount of naive mixed with bravery, determination, smarts, and most importantly, hope. She was constantly trying to play a role that was different then expected, and it left me cheering her on. I wanted her to be happy with a life of her own, away from certain nasty characters that I won't spoil.

+ The island is vividly described. I achieved 'raxia (the state of bliss felt on the island) just by reading about such a perfect place. After all, who wouldn't kill for a chance to lounge by the pool and have others tend to the work? Everyone would- and that's what makes this form of sci-fi terrifying.

- My only real criticism is the bipolar attitudes of non-clone characters. I believe that it was due to the heavy drug use, but in some spots it left me a bit bitter and confused as to why certain characters behaved the way they did.

+- This point is neither positive nor negative, but I felt that there was a lot going on. There's a large amount of characters and races, and I really needed to pay attention to what was happening. For me, this wasn't a quick read.

This book is a great young adult science fiction novel. I am severely disappointed that book two isn't out yet, but I will definitely be picking up a copy as soon as humanly possible.

I recommend this for the YA audience who enjoys dystopian books or science fiction. Those who enjoyed Cinder or Uglies- give Beta a try.

Thank you to The Reader's Antidote for my copy of this novel. This review can also be found on my shiny new blog, Bitches n Prose.
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