Identical by Ellen Hopkins Review!

Started: June 12, 2016

Finished: June 14, 2016

Rating: 2 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): Kaeleigh and Raeanne are identical down to the dimple. As daughters of a district-court judge father and a politician mother, they are an all-American family — on the surface. Behind the facade each sister has her own dark secret, and that’s where their differences begin. For Kaeleigh, she’s the misplaced focus of Daddy’s love, intended for a mother whose presence on the campaign trail means absence at home. All that Raeanne sees is Daddy playing a game of favorites — and she is losing. If she has to lose, she will do it on her own terms, so she chooses drugs, alcohol, and sex. Secrets like the ones the twins are harboring are not meant to be kept — from each other or anyone else. Pretty soon it’s obvious that neither sister can handle it alone, and one sister must step up to save the other, but the question is — who?

I don’t know what to say.

I honestly never thought I would see the day where I give an Ellen Hopkins book less than four stars, but here we are.

Let me get something straight: I didn’t like this book, but I didn’t dislike it.

I am an avid fan of Ellen Hopkins novels, and I had high expectations for this one, the only one I haven’t read (except Traffick, which is still relatively new). I was very disappointed in this read.

I base my ratings on the Goodreads rating system, which means that I gave this book two stars for “it was ok”. For me, this means that this book was just meh.

I never thought a book from the author who gave us Crank, a beautifully written and incredibly structured story, could be so sloppily structured.

The characters were just plain unlikeable. There wasn’t a single one that I can say truthfully that I liked. I was indifferent to a lot of them, but it would have been impossible for me to like them. Honestly, the characterization was lacking and I found it hard to know anything about any of the characters. The characters were nothing special, and some of them just felt like they were often there for show. But the characters, however unlikeable they were, were nothing compared to the story as a whole.

The story just felt sloppy to me. The plot was never really driven for me at all, and at times I couldn’t even tell what the plot was. At the best of these times, I could grasp at threads of the plot, but never really latch on to anything. At the worst of these times, this book felt like a messed up slice of life novel, where the life that we are observing is full of darkness and horror. This unassuming plot technique works in some of Hopkins’ other novels (BurnedTricks, and Perfect, to name a few) but in this one it fell flat.

When the plot did finally pick up (about 400 pages into the novel), I started becoming more interested in the story. That is, until the twist. If you’ve read this book, you’ll know what I’m talking about, but since this is a spoiler-free space (unless I’m discussing part of a series), I’ll just be telling you what I thought about the twist. And here it is: it was terribly executed. There was no setup whatsoever for the twist, and it came out of nowhere in the story. This was used for shock value, and I expected more of this book than an unprecedented twist for shock. Usually it’s a good thing when twists are unpredictable and unwarranted. In this case, it simply served as an “Are you serious?” moment for me. There wasn’t any big reaction on my part, which falls on me as a reader (and I am not the biggest fan of shock value plot twists), not Hopkins as an author. I’m sure this twist caused a bigger reaction out of other readers, and that is perfectly fine with me. But in my opinion, this twist was not worth the time.

All in all, I was disappointed by this average novel, especially when all of Hopkins’ other works stunned me and honestly shaped me as a reader. I will still continue to have high hopes for her novels because this book is simply one book that I didn’t like out of many others that I loved. If barely-there plot development and shocking twists are the kind of thing that you like to read, then I would definitely recommend you give this book a try. It was simply not my cup of tea, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t someone else’s!

NEXT READ: The Ghost Files by Apryl Baker


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