Replication: The Jason Experiment
By Jill Williamson
Published on December 27, 2011
Published by Zonderkidz
Source: Finished copy from publisher
Summary from Goodreads:
When Your Life Is Not Your Own
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.
It's been a long time since I've read any Christian fiction, and make no mistake, that's what this book is (if the publishing house didn't give it away in the first place). Years ago, the genre seemed to be swarming with either delicate-yet-forbidden romances, or stories about great evil and the people who fight against it (and also probably fall in love and get married while they're at it). So I was impressed with the choice to delve into science-fiction with Replication. I started reading the book expecting the worst, but was pleasantly surprised with it, in the end.
The whole book does a great job of fusing science with belief. Abby is a strong believer but also loves science and hopes to go to college to study forensic science. It's an interesting challenge to the stereotype of devoutly religious people being anti-science. I like that it supported the idea that you can be a person in a certain field but still be a person of faith at the same time. The book doesn't hold back from Abby sharing the Gospel with Martyr, who wants to know more about his purpose in life, or with her non-believer father. The scenes where she's telling Martyr about God are pretty touching and realistic.
Martyr was a great character. He's lived his entire life in isolation, in the tightly controlled environment of Jason Farms, so things change very rapidly for him once he escapes. He gets excited at the sight of an orange tie, because he had never seen that color before. A lot of his scenes involve him learning new words and concepts, or learning how the way the real world works, from television to dolphins, apartments to pregnancy. His innocence was very endearing, and I was definitely rooting for him the whole time.
Many of my problems with this book came from the fact that I simply am not the target audience for this genre. I mean, the book name-checks Sarah Palin and calls a character a liberal extremist because he agrees with stem-cell research, among other things. The "liberal extremist" is also a creepy sexist jerk who corners Abby, gets in her personal space without permission, tries to kiss her, and pretty much stalks her the whole time. It's like the author went out of her way to make him an extremely unlikeable character. The people who are in favor of cloning are so outlandish and evil that it shuts down any possible arguments about moderation.
If that's your thing, awesome, and you will probably have less moments than I did where I needed to step away before I got into an argument with a book. If it's not your thing but you can check your own assumptions and such at the door, I think Replication is worth checking out even just for the interesting world-building around the way of life at Jason Farms. The book raises a lot of interesting moral and ethical questions that are worth thinking about, regardless of which side of the fence you fall on with this issue.