Replica – what does that mean?

There are some books where writing too much in a review can spoil even the beginning of a novel. You could think here of the Book Thief, the Life of Pi and the Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (which was even published without a blurb). Replica is another title, where too much information early on would spoil the twists and turns the story takes.


Author Jack Heath and cover of Replica

That said, it can be revealed that Jack Heath’s tale is one that will grip you, and have you guessing about what is real, and where the next twist in the tale might happen. Indeed, the main character, Chloe, spends a lot of time trying to understand who she is, what her role in life might be, and what sort of dangers her family and friends might be facing:

Chloe wakes up to find all her memories have been wiped. And the only person who knows what happened is a teenage girl who looks and sounds exactly like her.  [Source:]

As more is revealed about where Chloe is and who she is dealing with, challenges arise in the story. Will the replica be able to fool her family? Friends at school? Will that protect Chloe and her family?

There are many questions to be answered, and changing circumstances to be overcome, as our heroine makes choices in how to act and who to trust. (Great to have an active female protagonist too!) The action in the story is fast and furious, creating a page-turner where you struggle to be able to place all the pieces togther. (Can you guess some of the twists and turns ahead?)

Cleverly scripted, Replica is another book from Jack Heath, who rose to fame as a young author. Having started writing The Lab when he was 13 years old, he was given a publishing contract at the age of 18. Other titles which followed, Remote Control, Money Run and his latest titles, the Cut Out and 300 Minutes of Danger are all action-packed thrillers for young adults, and always eagerly awaited by his followers.

Jack is an author who likes to share his love for reading and writing and has many videos to promote this. In this interview from 2012, he speaks a lot about his ideas for writing, how he does it, and why. His compulsion to write and his ideas leading up to the writing of Replica, a book set in Canberra about a robot who is pretending to be a human being… are interesting to hear, especially after the release of Replica:

Jack Heath: “Writing is what keeps me happy. (I’m) Just a guy who’s interested in stuff”.

Aren’t we lucky he is? What ideas can you pick up from this interview?

Author! Author! (Doctor? Doctor?) Slave of the Lamp – Paula Fogarty

slaveAuthors come from many diverse walks of life – and not all of them write their first book straight out of school as many would like to think:

  • # Toni Jordan (Nine Days) has worked as a sales assistant, molecular biologist, quality control chemist and marketing manager.
  • # Sarah Butler (Ten Things I’ve learnt About Love)  runs a consultancy which develops literature and arts projects.
  • # M.L. Stedman (the Light Between Oceans) was working in London as a lawyer in 1997 before hiring a writing coach…

So it is not surprising to discover that another debut author, Paula Fogarty, has ‘real’ job as a doctor – that she has worked in travel medicine for many years, and has a Post Graduate Masters degree in Tropical Medicine and Public Health.

It is also not surprising that Paula’s tale involves a magical genie and heroes of mythology, when you read that “her youth was spent devouring huge volumes of ancient Greek, Arabic and Nordic mythology.” In ‘Slave of the Lamp’, she uses her own interpretation of old tales, combined with adventure, for a young boy who simply wants to earn some money during his holiday break.

In this tale, genies (or ‘apprentice’ djinns, as Rufus might be called) are not all powerful and fearful. Neither do the old-school heroes like Aladdin measure up to our expectations. Instead, for example, Aladdin is a fat, deceitful and lazy son, who uses the djinns, Rufus and Gloria, to carry treasure from a magical cave for his, and only his, greedy pleasures. As a djinn, Rufus does not have the magical powers he first associated with the job he agrees to do, but he simply has to use his own cunning and ability to get by.

As with any tale involving a magical lamp, the fates and fortunes of the djinns within are determined by changing ownership of the lamp. So Rufus and Gloria’s journeys vary through different times and countries. Treasure hunting is a very risky business, which is why they are employed along the way in the endeavours for riches and power by others in charge of the lamp. However, there is the chance that the powers of human ingenuity, even in the shape of a naive 13 year old boy, may triumph.

Fogarty’s travels and exposure to exotic cultures, along with her passion for ancient mythology have surfaced well in this book. You can smell the different locations Rufus faces, you can feel the new situations he has to adapt to, and you cheer his knowledge of the many  diverse lands he comes across. His powers of observation and the decisions he makes are also admirable. Teen readers will love him.

‘Slave of the Lamp’ is a fun book, to be followed by many more in a series – one which will reveal many more of the wonderful places Paula Fogarty has visited. Whether they are real or imaginary locations remains to be seen – whatever the case, there are bound to be many more adventures in store for Rufus as he substitutes as ‘Slave of the Lamp’.