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In her new novel Beta, celebrated author Rachel Cohn brings us another look at humanity through the concept of cloning. Beta is set in the future, on the island of Demesne. Demesne is literally the most luxurious place on earth, an island paradise whose very air and water are designed to keep its residents happy and healthy. The population of Demesne are wealthy survivors of Earth's Water Wars, elite citizens who have been granted the luxury of, well... luxury. But on an island full of the world's most privileged people, who does the work?
Clones. Violet-eyed and marked with special facial tattoos, Demesne's workforce is created by cloning dead humans and then removing the soul of the resulting being. Demesne's ultra-privileged residents can then be served by beings with no free will or pesky individual character. But Demesne didn't count on Elysia. Elysia is a Beta: one of the first ever teenage clones to be created. The gorgeous, polite ideal of what a Demesne clone should be, Elysia is snapped up immediately after her creation, purchased by a wealthy woman to serve as a nanny for her young daughter, a training partner for her teenage son, and a replacement for her eldest daughter, who has just left Demesne to attend college. Elysia is perfectly comfortable in her new home- after all, what does she care? Clones don't feel, right? Well, as it turns out, things aren't that simple. Not only does Elysia have strange, shadowy memories, she has a sense of taste, compassion, morality, and curiosity- all things that clones shouldn't have, placing her in a serious quandary: if she asserts her humanity, she will be branded as a Defect, tortured, and killed. But if she doesn't, she will be forced to live out the rest of her life being treated as an unfeeling object, and she will never find what she desires most: love.
Beta is a haunting look at what it means to be human, and what it means to have a soul- not to mention the start of what is sure to be a phenomenal young adult series. Best for ages fourteen and up.