Double Hardcover – Feb 21 2012
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About the Author
Jenny Valentinestudied English literature at Goldsmith's College, which almost made her stop reading but not quite. Her debut novel,Me, the Missing, and the Dead, was a William C. Morris Award finalist and won the prestigious Guardian Children's Fiction Prize in the UK under the titleFinding Violet Park. She is also the author ofBroken Soup, a Best Books for Young Adults title. Jenny is married to a singer/songwriter and has two children. She lives in Hay-on-Wye, England.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Double is told from the point of view of Chap (Boy #1). His pain, his insecurity and his loneliness are described in a way that I was able to believe it Chap is desperate for a life, for a family but the life he steps in to is not as perfect as he imagined. He is immediately sucked in to an intrigue of why Cassiel is gone. Every step Chap takes, every word he says, he wonders - would Cassiel have said it this way? Will they know I am not Cassiel? Does she know I am not Cassiel? Chap has such sweet love and appreciate for his new "mom" and his "sister". The love he feels and appreciation he has for having a "home" was truly heartbreaking. It made my heartbreak for children who do not have a home or parents. This ache for love, for relationships was so well-described. Ms. Valentine captures very well the level of insecurity a young unloved and alone in the world boy would feel. My only complaint is there is too much of this fear and inner monologue going on in the story. But hey, it is told from the perspective of a teenaged boy, so it is believable.
In the background of the story is Chap's tale and this is where the beauty of this book lies. Through flashbacks, Chap remembers where he came from, "who" he is and why he is alone and on the run. So woven through the tension of who killed Cassiel and the whole will-they-know-I-am-not-Cassiel-thing is Chap's own background story.
Double has quite a few twists and turns which are done really well. I had a few theories about what happened to Cassiel, who caused his disappearance and why Chap was on the run. But I was only half right. This is a gripping and emotional tale that will likely keep you guessing.
There are young adult books that are clearly written for an older audience level, this is not one of those stories. This is a book that can be enjoyed by the older young adult crowd but is also appropriate for younger adult readers. I am grading it 3.5 stars because in the end, it was a simple story that while moving, was not fantastic. But, I am excited to have my daughter read this book and I am glad to have read it. I think it would make a fantastic movie.
There is no sex or romance in this story but there is a reference to being a virgin. There is some violence, but not graphic. This would be suitable for most 6th grade students and above.
Cassiel has been missing for years when 16-year-old Chap, who has been living on the streets, is mistaken for him and returned to Cassiel's family. We don't really know who Chap is or why Cassiel went missing or how it is that they could look so much alike as to fool Cassiel's own family. Chap doesn't understand this either, but since he's never really had his own normal family, he goes along with it. The mom is a bit batty, the big brother seems like he's hiding something, and the sister can be overbearing, but they've loved and accepted Chap without question, and he kind of likes it.
It's only when Chap begins interacting with some of Cassiel's friends that he begins to wonder what he's gotten himself into.
Double is a pretty easy read -- definitely for teens, but it's short enough and simple enough to appeal to young men and women who are intimidated by thick spines and complicated plots. This suspenseful plot kept me turning the pages wanting to know what had happened and why and how it was all going to end up. Fairly soon into the plot, I was rooting for Chap and wanted it to work out for him.
CONTENT NOTE -- There's a little mild cursing, and there are references to drugs (though not in a positive way), and some talk of sex, though no actual romance, so there's really nothing objectionable for an older tween, though it really felt like more of a book for 13 and up for some reason.
Another sixteen-year-old boy, known simply as "Chap," has been a part of the social services system for about as many years as Cass has been missing. Chap is called that by the man who raised him until Chap was taken into the foster care system -- a man Chap believed to be his grandfather. But who, really, is this elderly gentleman?
Take away two years and Chap's piercings, and anyone could see Cassiel; they look incredibly alike. Chap's social worker sees this when she finds a photo of Cassiel and sends Chap to live with Cassiel's family - mother Helen and siblings Frank and Edie. Chap believes himself a fraud, but this psychological thriller's twists and turns show readers something entirely different from what Chap -- and the readers -- believe at first.
This book is intended for teens, and, overall, it is teen-appropriate. However, there is some prescription drug abuse, occasional profanity, and some mild sexual innuendo. It is a fairly short, well-paced read that keeps readers wondering who Chap is and who Cass is and how things got so entangled.
When workers at the shelter show him a photo of a missing teen named Cassiel Roadnight, Chap is shocked to find that he and Cassiel look almost exactly the same. Take away the scars and piercings, and subtract a couple of years, and Chap could easily pass for the missing teen. With the shelter workers insisting that he is indeed Cassiel, Chap considers the opportunity. Here is a desperate family searching for one of their own, and Chap is available and qualified, at least as far as appearances go, to fill the slot. So Chap takes the chance.
Immediately, Chap finds himself with a home, mom, sister and brother. They are all immensely glad to see him and welcome him with open arms. Now all Chap has to do is figure out how to ride through this guy's life and not get caught. And someone hasn't made it very easy. Cassiel's room is wiped clean of any hints or suggestions of how to act, what his interests are, or who his friends are. His new sister already has commented on how much nicer he's become in the two years he's been missing. Then, a few clues begin to surface that indicate this normal, happy family isn't quite as it seems. Something sinister is lurking. Chap thought he had nothing to lose, but he's wrong --- he may just lose his life!
Jenny Valentine is the award-winning author of this new intoxicating thriller. Written in the first-person point of view, readers have the opportunity to become deeply involved with the sensitive and hurting main character of Chap. We can't help but feel sympathy with his deep longing for a family of his own, for someone to love him. The story offers lots of internal struggles like loneliness, remorse, longing, anger, fear, and the search for an identity. Valentine slowly reveals bits and pieces of both Chap and Cassiel's lives, piquing our curiosity before delving into a full-blown mysterious thriller with some surprising twists and turns. The cover design is also intriguing --- simple, yet enigmatic and eye catching. And I would like to include a warning of a bit of foul language for those who are concerned with such things.
Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman
Chap made a good narrator, very well conveying his own sense of discomfort and fear. He obviously isn't completely innocent, but he considers every action that he makes. It would be hard not to feel for a boy who misses his grandad, the only family he ever knew, from whom he was separated at the age of 10. Chap had to grow up fast, and has been unloved through so much of his childhood. Given these circumstances, it is totally convincing that he might choose to be someone else for a while.
My favorite characters were definitely Edie and Floyd, which I guess wasn't much of a competition, since the book doesn't have a huge cast. Still, I loved Edie, perhaps because her prickliness reminded me of myself. She's both so happy to have her brother back and so distrustful of how he seems different. Floyd is delightfully flamboyant, and incredibly smart.
More than anything, Double is about a boy trying to figure out where he belongs. The mystery plot is definitely secondary. The pacing of the book is somewhat slow, although I was not bored, so this would likely not appeal particularly to reluctant readers. If you're looking for an action-packed thrill ride, this is not the book for you. However, if you like to read stories of people searching for their identities, Double's worth a read.