First impressions: Replika: Sky's Mission

Find out The Space Girls first impressions of SPSFC3 contestant, Replika: Sky’s Mission by Hugo Bernard.

As part of the Self-Published Sci-Fi Competition, my team (The Space Girls) has been given 25 books to read. Of this initial allocation (or ‘slush pile’), we are reading the first 30% and then voting Yes or No on whether we’d like to continue reading further. You can see our full allocation in my previous blog.

Here are the team’s first impressions of Replika: Sky’s Mission by Hugo Bernard. (You can find all of our first impressions posts here.)

The cover of ReplikaBook blurb

They hacked her brother’s brain.

Then sent him into the simulation.

Sky must now get to him first… the future of reality is at stake.

Earth’s ecological collapse is avoided when most of the world population agrees to permanently upload into a simulated reality called Replika. But the stability of the system is threatened when a group of neuroscientists hack their brains to interact with the simulations in unforeseen and dangerous ways.

Sky devotes her life to rebuilding the real world left in the shadows of Replika. But when she learns her brother, who disappeared under mysterious circumstances, is in danger, she must choose which world needs her most. All she wants is to find the brother she loves, but she will unwittingly get entangled in a ploy to redefine reality.

HUGO BERNARD masterfully weaves a thought-provoking and fast-paced sci-fi adventure with a highly original vision on how simulated reality will change our lives.

Goodreads / Amazon

Our first impressions

Nancy: Another book of the batch where the first chapter is very well written, but later ones are just okay-ish. Gave me a lot of vibes from a late 90s anime called Last Exile about isolating humanity in some way while everyone waits for the planet to heal itself from rampant pollution. I didn’t understand why there were characters that were whizzes using advanced neurotempering tech, but nobody, not even the smartest people like Viz knows how to make a bicycle. Nobody knows how to build even crude wooden shacks anymore when trees are abundant and there are hidden hologram machines with useful knowledge. Anyone could just ask the hologram AI how to melt iron with a kiln and rebuild cities. The book purposely retains all of the mysterious secrets about the Replika virtual reality world which felt a bit frustrating because the story seems so scattered. I would like to read the rest of the book because the writing is fluid despite these caveats. (Y)

Katherine: Interesting prologue with a 14-year-old kid about to go into a different reality, which he has to lose all his memories for (which completely sucks, to be honest). Lots of characters get introduced after that. There’s a woman being tortured for information and a guy working in a virtual pizzeria. The virt seems different to Replika, as you can keep your memories and dip in and out of the former. Terrorist stuff going down in Paris. By this point I wasn’t really sure where the book was going or what was going on, and I knew I was going to forget who all the people were.

A fair few places that should be semi-colons or new sentences. Dialogue sometimes felt a bit stiff. Leant towards passive descriptions not close to the PoV. While it does use pluperfect more than other books that shirked the tense, it still manages to avoid it when necessary.

Dropped it because at 30% Paris had gone dark, sure, and Sky had been asked to go into Replika for her brother, but I never got any sense of emotion from the characters, really, and it relied far too much on having the characters’ inner monologues tell me stuff, even when that stuff was repeated in dialogue a paragraph later. They still hadn’t actually gone into Replika and I didn’t even care that a character got kidnapped. They just meant nothing to me. (N)

Kerry: At 30% I wasn’t sure exactly where the characters we had met so far, what they were doing, where they were going (except Sky going to Replika at some point). Not one singular character captured me, the story didn’t excite me and I was happy not to read further. (N)

Claire: I didn’t feel a connection to any of the characters so far. People seemed to make confusing decisions, such as Sky going to Chicago and her mother lying about everything.

I was also confused about the climate crisis — this is mentioned once briefly. I guess everything is fine now? It seems odd that keeping so many people (or everyone?) in a weird stasis is considered better for the environment, when BitCoin for example is so bad for the environment due to the amount of power the servers require. I was also confused why people’s memories weren’t kept. (N)

Verdict: Cut

Please note that these opinions are the judges’ initial impressions of only a part of each book. A book being cut doesn’t necessarily mean it is bad or not worth reading.