Feb 18, 2013

Replication: The Jason Experiment, by Jill Williamson

Disclaimer: All reviews are the result of my personal opinion from a Christian stand-point. These reviews are provided for those who share my beliefs and morals, to help guide what fiction a reader may wish to pick up. For those who do not share these beliefs, please refrain from hateful comments. It is due to rude commenting that I must now include this note prior to all reviews. For more information, visit my purpose behind this blog. Thank you for your understanding.

Intended Age-Group: recommend 13+
Issues of Violence:  fist-fights, action violence, topic of suicide, scientific experimentation
Intimacy Level: kissing, emotional connections
Swearing: none
Recommendation: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Picking up a book by a favorite author in a different genre has its risks. Since I can only read Jill Williamson's Blood of Kings trilogy so many times (I may or may not be reading it again right now...*guilty face*), I eventually had to move on to her semi-recent release, Replication.

What if everything you knew was a lie? Martyr---otherwise known as Jason 3:3---is one of hundreds of clones kept in a remote facility called Jason Farms. Told that he has been created to save humanity, Martyr has just one wish before he is scheduled to 'expire' in less than a month. To see the sky. Abby Goyer may have just moved to Alaska, but she has a feeling something strange is going on at the farm where her father works. But even this smart, confident girl could never have imagined what lies beneath a simple barn. Or what would happen when a mysterious boy shows up at her door, asking about the stars. As the reality of the Jason Experiment comes to light, Martyr is caught between two futures---the one for which he was produced and the one Abby believes God created him to have. Time is running out, and Martyr must decide if a life with Abby is worth leaving everything he's ever known.
Initial Reaction: *****
When I read the back of the book, it intrigued me, but didn't quite make me salivate. It's considered science-fiction and I'm always a little wary with that genre (I'm more of a fantasy fan). When I finally started the book, I devoured it the next day.

The first pleasant surprise was the terrific characters. I laughed out loud multiple times (read this in seclusion if you're uncomfortable with other people hearing you, because you really can't avoid it) and couldn't help but be a nerd and read chunks  aloud to my husband. He laughed out of courtesy since he couldn't laugh from context.

Characters: *****
Abby Goyer is a spunky redhead with a strong likeable personality who cares about her dad with the usual teen frustration of poor communication. Suffering from the recent death of her mother and a surprise move to Alaska, Abby steps into a new small-town high school mid-junior year and meets JD -- the jock with a brain. Their interactions are hilarious. I looked forward to every encounter solely for the fact I knew I'd be laughing at some point and admiring Abby's (or should I say Jill's) sense of humor.

Martyr is one experiment in a lab of fifty-five identical Jason clones. His only wish is to see the sky before his expiration date in a couple weeks. A new doctor arrives and makes it possible for Martyr's wish to be granted. The lab-constrained, systematic life meant for Martyr is completely altered when he starts questioning his purpose in life.

Plot: *****
The plot is thick with tension as Abby's and Martyr's worlds collide. What I love most is how believable and realistic the story is. If someone really did have a lab of human clones, how would an outsider react? How would the lab be conducted? How would police react? Jill hit the speculative nail on the head.
I repeat: believable, which means I was sucked in like the victim of a black hole. 

Something Jill Williamson does with her books is to include a discussion guide at the end. This makes it a great read for family or to children (especially as class reading) because it has intentional messages to discuss. 

Mature Content:
The romance in this book remains at a very tentative teen level. Abby is the object of two boy's affection: one is forceful and actually forces Abby to kiss him at one point. The other is gentle and sweet and she kisses him first. The differences between affection are nice to see to help other young readers see what is an unhealthy attraction (JD Kane) and what is closer to healthy and right (albiet, very very new) with Martyr.

There's another story told by a character about a woman who was "broken until she died" by a mob of the clone boys who wanted to touch her. Though the conclusion is never blatantly stated, it sounds a lot like rape. It's very sad, but makes sense with the story and the group of psychologically and physically abused by the lab.

Lastly is some fist-fighting, gun-shooting, and attempted suicide. The story deals with action-violence in a very realistic way, touching on the issues teens today often face. Yes, suicide and fist-fights are some of them.
Spiritual Content: *****
The Christian themes in the book are strong and well-explained. Abby has a growing faith in God. Martyr has never heard of God. I love how Abby tackles his tough questions with her own hesitancy. I also love how the questions from other non-believing characters don't beat around the bush. They ask the hard questions, too. They point out what seem like obvious flaws. Jill Williamson doesn't spoon feed Christianity like it's vanilla ice cream. The fact is, relationship with Jesus is intricate, and this book captures that without trying to answer every question.

Other issues addressed have to do with ethics. Abby's stance and view on stem-cell research is stated clearly and strongly throughout the book, partially from an ethics level and partially from a personal belief level. I like how integrated the ethics are in a story-like manner, especially from a high-schooler's point of view.

Overall Recommendation:
I definitely recommend this book. Some people recommend it only to Christian teens or Christian readers, but I believe it's a great read for anyone and everyone. But it's not just a good read from a Christian standpoint, it's also a fabulous book with deep characters, a catching sci-fi plot line, and action, action, action! I love Jill Williamson's writing.

Enjoy! I'd like to hear your thoughts if you read this book.

Nadine Brandes is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. She writes stories about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. Her debut dystopian novel, A Time to Die, released September 2014 from Enclave Publishing. When Nadine's not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, she is out pursuing adventures. She currently lives in Idaho with her husband. You can find out more about Nadine and her books at http://nadinebrandes.com.

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