ARC Book Review: Ringer by Lauren Oliver
ashley | I remember being really taken by Lauren Oliver’s Replica last year, but when I picked up the sequel, Ringer, I was having trouble remembering where we left off. I knew the gist, but certain characters and plot points were a bit foggy for me. Sadly, this made it hard to get back into, but I was so excited to be able to pick this back up that I persisted, and it paid off.
Like it’s predecessor, Ringer is divided into two parts, one for Gemma and one for Lyra. Like before, you can read these parts separately or you can switch back and forth between the two for a more linear story, depending on your preference. I love that this is an option, but like before, I chose to read Gemma’s story first, then Lyra’s, as I quite enjoy going back and filling in the blanks, not knowing at the time where the two stories will interweave.
Gemma is, understandably, having a hard time going back to her regular routine after having met her replica and finding out some other disturbing things about her life. She’s distancing herself form her friends and school work, she’s arguing with her parents and rebelling, she is obsessing over Lyra and the idea of twins/replicas/clones. When she discovers she’s been once again betrayed, she heads out to warn Lyra and ends up finding herself kidnapped instead.
The first half of the Gemma book weighs heavily on the morality of what it is Dr. Saperstein is doing, or planning on doing, with the replicas. Gemma makes the pro-life argument, while Saperstein defends his pharmaceutical actions. This was really interesting for me, considering I’m strongly opinionated with this topic and found each side presented strong, detailed arguments that made me start questioning a lot of things. I’m glad the book spent time presenting this dilemma. It wasn’t too overdone, but it was thorough enough that a point was made and questions were raised, giving the reader something more to think about.
Oliver did a great job with the child-like wonder of the replicas seeing “outside” for the first time. I enjoyed this part, like I enjoyed it with Lyra in the first book, though this time around, the wonder and awe was laced with a darker apathy and a more sinister approach to things.
Heartless and cold, these child-like beings were unpredictable and unreliable. I loved the combination, it had that really eerie feeling like a child in a horror movie. To compliment that, it was also interesting to see Gemma have to deal with this, to teach and to have patience and to explain how things worked in the outside world. She’s a child herself, in a way, and now she was thrust in the position to teach someone else how the world works. This created a nice balance. Until it all went horribly wrong.
Like I said, I liked going back and filling in the blanks by reading Lyra’s story second. While I didn’t notice as many variations in perspective as I did in the first book, where there was a bigger opportunity to explore the same situation from both sides, this take on it successfully blended two independent stories together into one timeline and I quite enjoyed following Lyra on her journey along the same linear path as Gemma’s story, and watching them overlap and then finally coming together.
That said, because of this format, I found that the story itself was quite short and while things that happened were significant, over all not a whole lot really did happened, which made it kind of slow in parts. Lyra was a great character, but she always felt very secondary to me, like she wasn’t given too much space to really grow as her own story line and existed to compliment the other story line, to fill in the gaps and provide explanations to the reader.
It also felt like some of the key turning points in the plot happened by luck, as opposed to a solid, believable event, which caused a few weak holes in a story for me. And though I believe this is the final book in this series, there were still a lot of open ended questions in the end that weren’t really touched upon, though I felt were significant enough to have mentioned before wrapping everything up.
That said, I did really enjoy this series. I liked the way it approached the whole replica idea from a more intimate and personal standpoint, how it explored the feelings of the replicas individually, as opposed to focusing on just one, or replicas in general. Oliver is a great writer and always has really interesting and unique ideas that I love exploring and this was no different.
today! october 3, 2017