Review: ‘Beta’ by Rachel Cohn

Review: ‘Beta’ by Rachel CohnBeta by Rachel Cohn
Series: Annex #1
Published by Disney-Hyperion on October 16th, 2012
Genres: Dystopian, Love & Romance, Mystery, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 331
Format: Hardcover
Source: bought in-store, Edelweiss
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.

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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)

reading progress






  1. giselle

    April 2, 2016 at 3:16 PM

    Thanks Michelle! I still have to read the sequel too. Thanks for letting me know that the sequel is better 😛

  2. Michelle @ Key to Book City

    March 28, 2016 at 6:39 PM

    I love your bookish photography, Giselle! Great review! I adored Beta but I see where your points are coming from. I would recommend reading the sequel, where the rebellion does come out! The sequel was EVEN BETTER than the first… and I rarely say that! 😀
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