Jason 3:3, nickname, “Martyr,” lives in a tightly-controlled underground facility supervised by a team of scientists, in a community of other genetically-engineered boys. Within their blood lies the antidote to a toxin that has rendered the surface of Earth virtually uninhabitable. They believe they are humanity’s last hope. Martyr is nearly 18 years old, his DNA-encoded expiration date. He is content to die, knowing his sacrifice will enable the survival of thousands, though his fondest wish is to see the sky with his own eyes, just for a few moments. One day, an opportunity for escape presents itself, and he impulsively seizes it. What he discovers beyond the facility will reveal a terrifying truth, and a desperate hope.
Meanwhile, Abby Goyer is less than pleased about her biologist father’s new job, which has unceremoniously whisked them away to a little jerkwater town in the Alaskan countryside. She’s coping as best she can. The standoffish locals have her feeling like a freak, and she’s caught the unwelcome attention of J.D. Kane, the boorish, unfairly handsome captain of the football team. Just when she thinks her life can’t get any worse, Abby finds a strange boy hiding in her bedroom, shivering and bald, acting like he just dropped in from another planet.
And he’s a dead ringer for J.D. Kane.
Replication – The Jason Experiment, is a near-future tale of suspense in the spirit of The Island and Robin Cook’s medical thrillers, written by Jill Williamson, author of the award-winning Blood of Kings young-adult fantasy trilogy.
It asks a lot of profound questions along the way. What might happen when a person who is nearly a blank slate confronts a complex world that is nothing like he’s been led to believe? Is destiny governed by heredity? What is it that makes each of us a unique individual? Does morality impose limits on scientific experimentation, even for a noble cause?
Williamson moves the story along at a nail-biting tempo that kept me turning pages from beginning to end over three hours of a graveyard shift at work, no small feat. As in her other works of my acquaintance, she displays a knack for creating appealing characters. Abby is a smart, resourceful, and likable heroine, though I found her incessant mental gushing over boys a bit tiresome and stereotypical. Martyr was more three-dimensional, and I found his portrayal both believable and gripping.
This is also Christian fiction, and I thought Williamson did a good job organically integrating faith issues into the story via Martyr’s natural curiosity about the outside world, his own purpose in life, and Abby’s confident Christianity. That thread of the story didn’t feel preachy or overwrought.
Most of my gripes were minor and involved implausibilities in the story’s setup and some inconsistencies which would probably bother jaded old science fiction fanboys more than its intended teen audience. If you’re curious or have read the book and want to discuss this further, hit the comment box.
I think Replication strikes the heart of the envelope for teen fiction, though genre fans of any age would probably enjoy it. There’s some mild violence (and one horrific incident that happens offstage and is referenced indirectly), painful scientific experimentation on human beings, and a bit of chaste kissing, but nothing that would offend most parents or any teens in my neighborhood.
Published in 2011 by Zondervan, 294 pages, available in hardcover, paperback, and e-book at Amazon and Barnes&Noble.
>>This review is based upon a copy of the book provided to me free of charge by the publisher, a courtesy I appreciate, but which does not guarantee my recommendation. I strive to evaluate every book I review purely on its intrinsic merits.<<