Each month the RT editors select one book that is not only compelling, but pushes the boundaries of genre fiction. This book stands out from all the others reviewed that month. October 2016’s RT Seal of Excellence — the editors’ pick for best book of the month — is awarded to Replica by Lauren Oliver.
Where to start with Replica? Oliver combines two equally enthralling narratives in this “flip book”: one misfit teenage girl with dirty family secrets and one teenage girl raised in a research facility as a lab rat. Weaving together serious social and personal issues, Oliver shares a riveting story that needs to be read to be believed. Gemma and Lyra’s stories are both fascinating, and while I chose to read Lyra’s story in full first, once I was finished with both I had to go back and check out their chapters side by side. There is no wrong order to read this story, so pick up your copy and join me in hoping and waiting for more! — Emily Walton
Oliver’s two-in-one novel is a feat of fiction. She takes the story of two girls, told from their POVs, and tells them simultaneously. You just have to literally flip the book over to read the other side of the story. The way the two tales weave together, revealing bits of the other girl’s story while still maintaining a cohesive narrative, is a true testament to Oliver’s talent. YA fans will also enjoy the two clever takes on common YA storylines: girl finds out something extraordinary about herself; girl lives in a closed society with no knowledge of the outside world. Oliver weaves them together, giving us an original offering via the combination. No matter how you read this, beginning with Lyra or Gemma’s story, or flipping in between, you’ll really enjoy this one. — Elissa Petruzzi
The other Seal of Excellence nominees were:
As soon as I was through the first chapter I began to feverishly email my coworkers, demanding that they read Tessa Dare‘s latest. Do You Want to Start a Scandal contains all of the tidbits I love to see in a historical. There’s a young, inexperienced heroine who is smart as a whip, wholly independent and in no need of a man or marriage to lead a fulfilling life. She’s complemented by a jaded, recently jilted member of the aristocracy who just happens to be a spy for the government — AND I REALLY LOVE A HERO SPY! The whirlwind romance begins with Charlotte trying to warn the hero off. She knows her mother is going to throw her into the marquess’s path, and the more she gets to know him, the more determined Charlotte is to make Piers see that he deserves true love. Of course, he’s already found it, but it takes some time for Charlotte to see the big picture. And here’s the best part — in this story, the hero is chasing the heroine. It was so fun and refreshing to see the hero struggle with insecurities about the relationship and to shoulder some self-doubt. It made their HEA that much sweeter! — Kristin Wise
Beautiful is yet another great addition to Christina Lauren’s series. One of my favorite parts was that we get to see so many of our other favorite couples in action, not just briefly swanning through a scene, but for real hanging out with Pippa and Jensen as they stumble their way toward their HEA. It’s lovely to see these not-so-opposites-after-all attract, and on an envy-worthy winery road trip no less. I was swooning from not only this couple, but the drool-worthy scenery. Someone plan a romance convention in wine country, stat! — Elissa Petruzzi
They say Rebecca Zanetti is the master of romantic suspense, and her latest release, Deadly Silence, proves she is living up to the title. This Sin Brothers spinoff — my first introduction to her work — provided an emotional, dark backstory and a relationship that develops as danger abounds. Ryker and Zara’s sexy and suspenseful tale is one you need to add to your TBR this month. — Danielle Valente
Congratulations to the winner and all of the nominees! You can find all of our Seal of Excellence winners here.