'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Tuesday 21 July 2020

Review: The Twin

I see this book as Lotte and Lisa’s (also known as The Parent Trap) evil twin. It starts with the identical premise of twin daughters of divorced parents reuniting – but diverges from then on.

Ivy lives with her dad and when her mother dies, her twin sister Iris returns to live in their house. Ivy is a straight-A student, star of the school’s swim team, with a nice bunch of friends and an adoring boyfriend. She works hard, hoping to make it to Stanford University.

When Iris comes to live with them and attend Ivy’s school, Ivy is welcoming but also strains to manage the grief of losing their mother and adjusting her life to accommodate Iris.

Everybody is super nice to Iris, of course, as the child who lived with the mother at the time of her death.

But Ivy gradually notices a few inconsistencies between what Iris says, and what she does. Such as not appearing to grieve. And gradually inveigling her way into Ivy’s friendship group, despite initially dismissing Ivy and her crowd as being too serious and instead wanting to party her way through school.

I generally enjoy psychological thrillers: the main character wonders if they’re going crazy – or whether somebody is out to get them by playing subtle mind games. Daphne du Maurier did it perfectly with My Cousin Rachel. And The Twin follows this pattern.

Ivy gets wrong footed and undermined. Cracks start to appear in her peer group. Her doubts and constant second guessing distract her from studying. She gets blamed for some serious misdeeds. Her perfect life starts to unravel. Is Iris behind it? And if so – why?

As a reader, my experience was that suppressing my analytical tendencies greatly enhanced my enjoyment of it, in a veging-out-in-front-of-a-telemovie type of way. There were a few 'it’s not what it looks like' moments. And Ivy’s friends incorporated (and eventually favoured) Iris into their social sphere a bit too quickly. I also rolled my eyes at how rapidly some brief angry outbursts altered Ivy’s reputation from 'reliable' to 'unstable' (has the author never seen the dramatics that happen daily in a typical high school?).

Nevertheless, the reader is firmly allied with Ivy and the betrayals hit an emotional chord in the reader. Preston raises the stakes and maintains the intrigue and I was able to read it quickly. Plus there was a clever twist on the final page I did not see coming and that is to Preston’s credit.

This book will appeal to fans of teen soap operas.

Title: The Twin
Author: Natasha Preston
Publisher: Penguin Random House, $19.95  
Publication Date: 3 March 2020
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9780593124963
For ages: 12+
Type: Young Adult Fiction