You only have to look at the self-shot promotional video for Replica (which I did _after_ finishing the novel) to see that Jack Heath is a young author overflowing with self-confidence. And well he might be. Because Replica is a 200 page long tour-de-force.
The author has several sci-fi type thrillers to his name, and already quite a reputation in Australia.
He really knows how to write action scenes and paces the book like a pro. Anthony Horowitz fans will love it.
The novel’s opening is brilliantly conceived. Chloe (whose voice narrates the novel) is essentially a robot with artificial intelligence. She has, we understand, been cloned by the real Chloe, working secretly in the house basement. She has been programmed with the real Chloe’s memories and, because of the sophistication of the software, is able to experience a simulation of human feelings.
It takes a leap of faith for the reader to run with this idea and had Heath’s skill as a storyteller been in any way suspect the whole thing would have fallen on its face immediately.
But the artificial Chloe is made entirely believable.
I have to say I enjoyed the first half of the book (which concentrates on Chloe’s struggles to fool the parents and the real Chloe’s college friends that she is who she is claiming to be) rather more than the second (in which the thriller narrative takes over) but then I’m not the target audience.
Sandra Glover is a daring writer. Her prose pulls out subjects that desperately matter to young people. Her books are dynamic. Readers cannot sit on the sidelines allowing words to wash over them. The narrative must be engaged with. Readers make active decisions about what they believe and feel and thereby are responsible for crafting their own distinctive interpretation on what they have read. This makes the books perfect for discussion, for sharing and debating ideas and issues.