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A Reader of Fictions: The Stand Ins, Two - Okkervil River

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Stand Ins, Two - Okkervil River


Author: Jenny Valentine
Pages: 244
ARC Acquired from: Hyperion via NetGalley

Brief Summary:
Chap has never gone by any other name. He's a runaway, staying at a rundown hostel with a bunch of other luckless kids. Locked in a storeroom for fighting, the people running the hostel take an interest in him and try to figure out who he is. He refuses to give his name, but one employee recognizes him. She says that he is Cassiel Roadnight, which he denies. Then she shows him a newspaper article with a picture of a boy, one that looks precisely like him, who has been missing for two years. Desperate for love and to be someone, Chap decides to become Cassiel, without considering why Cassiel disappeared.

From the summary and the seriously creepy cover, I expected Double to be a thrilling, action-adventure ride. In fact, it's not. There is mystery and suspense, but the bulk of the novel was surprisingly understated. Actually, I liked Double better for that, for not taking the easy way out and focusing on the more obviously dramatic side of things.

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.

Rating: 3/5

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Anonymous Audrey (Bibliosaurus Text) said...

Ooh, I have a copy of this from NetGalley I need to get to. I'm glad to hear that you liked it, and that its subtlety worked for you!

February 13, 2012 at 9:01 PM  

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