Title and author: Double by Jenny Valentine
Date: February 21, 2012
Summary (from Goodreads):
When the sixteen-year-old runaway Chap is mistaken for a missing boy named Cassiel, his life changes dramatically. Chap takes on Cassiel’s identity, gaining the family and friends he’s always dreamed of having. But becoming someone else isn’t as easy as he hoped—and Chap isn’t the only one hiding a secret. As he teeters on the brink of discovery and begins to unravel the mystery behind Cassiel’s disappearance, Chap realizes that he’s in much deeper danger than he could have imagined.
After all, you can’t just steal a life and expect to get away with it.
Award-winning author Jenny Valentine delivers an explosive mystery where dark secrets, betrayal, and loss pave the way for one teen’s chance at redemption.
“Funny, the distant little roots of big and life-changing things, their humble beginnings. The phone call that causes a car crash, the delayed train that kicks off an affair, the whiskey shortage that turned me into nobody.”
What happened to Cassiel that his face is now on a missing flyer? Who is Chap, and why does he look a lot like Cassiel? This is the mystery that unfolds in Valentine’s new novel, Double.
First, let me say that as a whole, I enjoyed this novel. I did not love it, but I did enjoy it. The problem with reviewing a book like this is it is difficult to fully evaluate without ruining plot points, but I am going to try my best.
This novel seems to have a conflicted identity, much like our main character. It struggles between being plot-driven and character-driven. There are moments in the novel where the plot drives the action, and then it seems within pages Valentine switches and begins to have the characters drive the novel instead. For this reason, I struggled with reading it. Not because it was bad writing but because the book itself lacked its own identity. I believe this could have been solved with a third-person narration. For me, first person narration just did not work. It weakened the novel as a whole.
With that said, I want to start with the plot itself. It is an interesting idea – Chap, taking on Cassiel’s identity without really knowing who he really is. Many teens themselves struggle with the same thing – trying to figure out who they are in a society that wants them to be one thing while they strive to be someone else. For this reason I felt the author was clever because she creates this effect through the first-person narration, even if I did not prefer it.
The mystery of the novel is what kept me turning the page. I love a great mystery. I guess I am a closet mystery reader because I don’t really blog about it, but I love when an author keeps me guessing until the final page. That is what Valentine did with this novel. Though there were elements of the mystery that I felt were easily identifiable, there were a couple of pieces of the puzzle that I did not see coming.
For me the strength of the novel lies with the story of family: Chap and his grandfather as well as Cassiel and his family (mother Helen, sister Edie, brother Frank). I enjoyed how Valentine reminds readers of a very important fact: we all need one another, and many of us are willing to believe anything in order to survive. That is what I believe is the author’s underlying meaning, and that is why I enjoyed this novel.