Jinny (Lost-At-Sea Book Reviews)'s Reviews > Double

Double by Jenny Valentine
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's review
Sep 12, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: arc-or-galley, thriller, ya-teens
Read from September 12 to 14, 2011

3.5 stars rounded up for awesomeness.

I requested this book from NetGalley a while back, initially because I thought it was a science fiction book. I didn’t read the description, just saw the cover and I mistook the little water droplets as 01010101 computer language stuff. Anyway, turns out this is not a science fiction book at all! There’s nothing sci-fi, dystopian, paranormal, fantasy, etc. about it at all. But, even though the book was not what I expected at all, it turned out to be a really fantastic read and I enjoyed it tremendously.

Double is about a boy named Chap who has been homeless for the last few years, ever since his Grandad died and he ran away from his foster care parents (there were many). He ends up in some sort of children’s home, where the workers are astonished to discover that Chap looks exactly like a missing boy from two years ago, Cassiel. They ask Chap if he’s Cassiel. Having nowhere to go and nothing to lose, Chap says it’s him.

Chap, now called Cassiel, is introduced to his new family, which includes a mom, an older sister and an older brother. They more or less accept him warmly. However, Chap is bothered and somewhat haunted by the fact that he has stolen Cassiel’s life. He begins to wonder what happened to Cassiel. All his wondering leads him to discover that the happy little family he has joined isn’t as happy as it appears on the surface.

The beginning half was kind of slow to start. It wasn’t bad, but it could have been better. The real meaty part of the story, the ‘thriller’ part, doesn’t happen until the halfway point when Chap starts wondering about the real Cassiel and starts discovering a bunch of suspicious things regarding Cassiel’s life. It’s not an action-type thriller, if that’s what you are thinking. This is more of a “Who’s the dangerous one?” kind of thriller, followed by Chap attempting to piece together what happened in Cassiel’s life before he disappeared. Unfortunately, I can’t really say why it got really good at that part without giving a big fat spoiler. If you like stories with family secrets, you’ll probably like this.

Chap is our first-person narrator, and I do wish he put a bit more emotion into his narrating. Even when he is speaking with the other characters, he doesn’t seem to have much feeling. Maybe it’s just the way his character is. I guess being homeless and tossed around the foster/social care system kind of deadened him a bit. In any case, I didn’t find him the most interesting, though I did find his back story incredibly sad and it was really easy to feel sorry for him.

Interestingly enough, Cassiel is described as having a rebellious and a bit of a mean-spirited personality, the complete opposite of Chap, so it was a little intriguing reading about Chap trying to pretend to be a person who is so different from him. As for the other characters, Helen, Edie and Floyd were both kind of ‘meh’ to me — they didn’t have very deep or interesting back stories and I think they could have been developed a bit more — but Frank was quite memorable. Even before Chap met him, I just got this vibe from Frank, and I knew he must be up to no good. However, since the reader is made to feel suspicious towards Frank from the beginning, Frank’s role in the story isn’t as shocking as it could have been.

I think my only real complaint would be that the mystery of why Chap appears to be Cassiel’s doppleganger is too predictable and easy to solve (it could be just me though). I won’t spoil it, but given the title of the book and the fact that this is not sci-fi or fantasy or paranormal or ‘strange’ in any way, it’s pretty easy to figure out. When it was finally revealed in the book, it did lose a bit of its punch, as I had already long suspected the reason. If you still can’t figure it out — well, then the twists in this story is definitely going to shock you!

Overall, this is a great book, good for a quick, suspenseful read, despite suffering from some predictability. And it’s got a nice message, I think: Even if you think your life sucks, there’s always someone out there who might have it worse than you. Chap’s life sucks, but taking Cassiel’s life doesn’t make him any happier — in fact, it put him grave danger! If you are interested in the story, I definitely recommend giving it a go, but by no means is this a must-read.

(This review originally posted at http://skyink.net).

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09/12/2011 page 164

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

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Laura Great review. I really enjoyed this book as well.

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