Emily May's Reviews > Identical

Identical by Ellen Hopkins
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Feb 24, 2011

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bookshelves: young-adult, 2011
Read from February 15 to 16, 2011

This book was... disturbing. Very disturbing. I really like the author's style and I think the use of verse is highly effective and contributes something to the story that I never imagined possible... but. And there is a but. I felt this book, unlike Burned which I loved, just went too far. It made me feel uncomfortable, too much so. I can't explain, I usually really like books that are controversial and stretch boundaries but... a man performing oral sex on his daughter while her twin watched and secretly wished it was her? The revulsion I felt was too much. Way too much.

I thought the plot idea was great, very interesting and a rather dangerous subject area to delve into (child abuse, amongst other things). Basically, it's the story of identical twins, almost completely alike except one is the reluctant centre of her father's attention... sexual attention. The other twin feels unloved by her father and longs to please him... even sexually. That was the part of this book that made my stomach churn, not so much the abuse of one twin but the incestuous desires of the other.

I read it in a few hours and was gripped in a manner that can only be described as 'horrified'. I couldn't put it down, like the inability to look away from a road accident even after seeing a mangled body. Perhaps it should be given more stars, but I didn't really enjoy this book. Who knows? I'll probably read it again in the future and I might decide to revise this rating. We shall see.
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Reading Progress

02/15/2011 page 109
19.0%
02/15/2011 page 109
19.0% "I never imagined how much I'd love these books in verse!"

Comments (showing 1-40 of 40) (40 new)

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Sruthi I haven't read this, (I tend to check the reviews with less starts first), but I have read other books dealing with the same type of issues. Stars ought to reflect the quality of the work, how moved you are by it, what you've learned, not just enjoyment. Indeed, it would be hard to say you enjoyed a book that is just horrific in terms of subject-matter.

Hope this helps if you choose to re-read and re-valuate your opinion.


message 2: by Emily May (last edited Apr 14, 2011 08:57AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Emily May Sruthi wrote: "I haven't read this, (I tend to check the reviews with less starts first), but I have read other books dealing with the same type of issues. Stars ought to reflect the quality of the work, how move..."

On some review sites I would agree. However, I am basing it on the options you get when hovering over stars on goodreads: 3 being "liked it", 4 being "really liked it", since neither of these were true that is why I gave the book a lower rating.


Sruthi Hmm, "like" to me incorporates all that. But I see what you mean.


message 4: by Raven (new)

Raven i read one book of heres. and was horrified i didnt like it but i couldnt put it down. i was scared for the characters and anger was a common emotion as i read. i want to read another but am afraid of feeling repulsed by what she touches on


Emily May I know what you mean katherine, her novels always seem to be quite dark. which did you read?


message 6: by Raven (new)

Raven I read burned. It is good but often i found myself shocked by what happens and the ending horrified me. It was disturbing and very very dark. Honestly, im okay with dark but having one ray of light happen and then be demolished really sent me reeling.


Emily May yeah, I read burned. there's no actual solution, just one problem after another after another. didn't you sort of feel like "what's the point?" it wasn't as if it was about overcoming hardship and abuse because there was no 'overcoming'.


message 8: by Raven (new)

Raven Exactly. And to be honest, i tend to read books for the enjoyment and the escape from life. i like haunting and dark books but i love to see how they turn out. If it has to be bad i have to learn something. In burned, i didnt find any good thing, it was just horror after horror i know thats the way life is for some and sometimes we have light but who wants to read to escape and find a book that shows only the side of life that is horror?


Alec I know I said your review on IMPULSE was a little harsh but I have to say the oral sex may be a bit unecessary. Again, I haven't read the book yet, but want to. I think it's wrong that a girl should be looking at her father sexually and should be running like a mad person, screaming, "Help!!!!!!" So, I agree with you here. Sexual abuse is bad, but the book gives insight on what it is, so I am not so sure.


Kortney Do you realize that the entire book was just from one twin's perspective? She had multiple personalities after her sister died and her father started doing that stuff to her.


Emily May I have read the book. My concern is what message is being sent out by a young girl fantasising about her father going down on her.


message 12: by Alec (new) - rated it 5 stars

Alec Thanks for the spoiler even thought I'm only HALFWAY THROUGH THE BOOK!


Emily May Don't go posting that on my review, you want to thank anyone for the spoilers: go do it on her profile!!


message 14: by Alec (new) - rated it 5 stars

Alec Sorry!


Susanna Grant YES. throughout this book i was so so so disturbed by the fact of her father doing that. but in all honestly its reality. things like this happen and i think thats the beauty of it. Its the story of this girls issues! and while it gives me shivers when i read it, its absoloutly beautiful.


Rachel i think what i like about her books is how she showcases all the confusing and ambiguous feelings that come out of trauma (e.g. the part of kayleigh--her body--that responds naturally to sexual touch despite the shame and trauma that she's experienced it with her father. i think probably in real life that things are not as clear cut as we wish them to be. kaylegh was a traumatized child who's stuck between society's expectation she love her father, his sexualized demands on her, her own sexuality, and her secret shame and confusion. it would be hard for her to only feel the hate and disgust we feel for her father. and i like that about ellen hopkins. she keeps it real and delves into the hard stuff and knows that most of the time, the sort of problems people experience in her books aren't completely "overcome". sometimes they don't get better at all.


Emily May Thank you for your thoughts, Rachel. I do agree that I like how the problems aren't so easily overcome, it feels more realistic that way. I think perhaps this is just personal preference and I don't have a strong enough stomach for this level of honesty.


message 18: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Thanks for the review - I had a feeling it was going in that direction at around page 20 so I thought I'd pop in here and check some reviews. I have put the book down as scenes like that give me nightmares. Thanks again. x


message 19: by Malia (new)

Malia Which Ellen Hopkins book do you recommend I should read first? They all sound a bit...rough, but somehow kind of fascinating too.


Emily May I remember I really liked Burned. Hopkins is great in small doses but, once you read too many, I think they all seem to sound the same (i.e. all really depressing).


message 21: by Malia (new)

Malia Emily May wrote: "I remember I really liked Burned. Hopkins is great in small doses but, once you read too many, I think they all seem to sound the same (i.e. all really depressing)."

Cheers, that's the impression I got. I'll give it a try.


Jacob Crowley I've read this book several times.
What confuses me is why people say it goes "too far" or makes them "uncomfortable." That's Ellen Hopkins. You're not supposed to be comfortable. You're supposed to feel what people who go through this feel. It's to help you understand the thoughts and feelings behind these issues so you can stay away from being in these situations, if at all possible. Maybe not growing up, but in your own life, when you have your own family.


Emily May It's probably because I read this a few years ago. Since then, I've read books far more disturbing than this. I no longer consider Hopkins' work particularly disturbing, but I do stand by my opinion that she is extremely overrated. She uses too many shock tactics to drive her stories, the plot has no real depth beyond one depressing occurrence after another.


Yasmin A co-worker at Barnes & Noble lent me this read, and told me it just got weirder and weirder. I have read some crazy stuff out there, so I was skeptical on how disturbed I would be. I read Crank as well as Impulse. Both provided their fair share of tears, but this actually inspired fear and anger inside of me. I am giving it five stars because nothing has ever sent me reeling like this book has. Ellen Hopkins went beyond the limits of what she is known for. Kudos to her for reaching her goal every time!


message 25: by Katie (new)

Katie Mcconomy I just met Ellen Hopkins today. Thanks for this review. I wanted to read one of her books but it looks like this isn't the one for me.


Emily May Katie, I would highly recommend Burned. That's my favourite Hopkins book :)


January You know the twin didn't really watch right?! It was in her head....


Emily May Yes, I know.


Nicole Neustadt I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Even if it was a little disturbing at parts it clearly wasn't disturbing enough to make you stop reading, but instead caused you to get sucked in even further. I think that is what the author was going for when she wrote it. The books purpose was to inform young readers about touchy topics like child, drug, alcohol, and sexual abuse, and the author was able to do just that by writing the book so cleverly. The author, Ellen Hopkins, wrote scenes in the book so graphic and twisted it might make the reader cringe but it effectively grasped their attention and showed them nearly first hand what some people unfortunately suffer through.

Another reason why I thoroughly enjoyed the book was the style of writing that was used. I love the way the book is written in verse. It made it easy to read and understand and being a dyslexic I certainly enjoyed that. Originally I thought that the verse style writing was strange but now I wish more books were written that way.


Emily May Hi Nicole, thanks for sharing your thoughts! I'm glad you enjoyed it :) I agree that I was surprised by how powerful verse can be when I first picked up an Ellen Hopkins book.

I think (and I realise this is just my personal opinion) that I just find Hopkins' work to be a little melodramatic. I understand that really bad things happen to people and I appreciate it when authors don't sugarcoat that, but I think sometimes Hopkins weakens the powerful message by making the grittiness seem like a plot tool. Sometimes I feel like she includes scenes to shock us, rather than relay an important message... but I really do understand why people love her books.

Ah well, guess we can't all love the same things ^_^


message 31: by MiMi (new) - rated it 3 stars

MiMi I had just gotten this book at the library without researching it on goodreads first and decided to read it. I read the back and it seemed pretty good, but no I completely agree with you that it was insanely disturbing. I could not handle to read anymore so I just read the spoilers for the ending online and it's interesting but why did she have to make the book so disturbing?


message 32: by MiMi (new) - rated it 3 stars

MiMi I honestly don't know how or why I made it 200 pages. I should have given up before then. The level of disturbance in this book was and is hard to stomach


Melanie Rose Clearly a large amount of you are not familiar with this author. this her style. Don't bash it, just don't read it if it disturbs you.


message 34: by Ramel (new)

Ramel I like the author's style as well and the use of verse. This was the first Ellen Hopkins book that I have read. I didn't like the abuse but, I guess it is knowledgeable to be aware of someone's thoughts who is going through such a horrible time.
This book disturbed me a little too. I didn't like that Raeanne felt the need to please her monster of a father. Also, I have never experienced sexual abuse so I guess I wouldn't know the thoughts that go through a victims head.
Overall I agree with you and your rating.


message 35: by MiMi (new) - rated it 3 stars

MiMi Well I was eventually able to continue reading and ended up loving it. I did not intentionally try to "bash it" however even people who are pretty ok and unaffected by the book, have to admit it is disturbing


message 36: by Zoe (new)

Zoe Thank you very much for this review! I had planned to read it but now it seems like it would upset me and just create a knot in my stomach because of how real this kind of thing is and how much I've heard of this type of abuse from people I know.


Jamie I always love your reviews. My library finally had this book in, and it was the only one I hadn't read yet--holy cow! I love Ellen Hopkins, and her controversial books... Although, I do find unsuitable for teenagers (which is where it is catalogued at my library). I definitely couldn't imagine a very young teenager getting ahold of this one! Shew. Very surprising twist, and the disgust I felt definitely was like the car wrecks you speak of.


message 38: by Brenda (new) - added it

Brenda thank you for this review. I'm interested in reading some Ellen Hopkins, and I like the idea of identical twins, but I'll have to decide if I can handle this one.


message 39: by Jess (new)

Jess Thank you so much for your review! like some of the previous comments, I intend to read Ellen Hopkins, but I don't know if I can handle this type of story. Just like you, I love when authors push the envelope, but I think this might be too much even for me.


message 40: by Carolina (new) - added it

Carolina Morales Interesting review!


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