What: Dead Ringer by Jessie Rosen
Who: Full Fathom Five Digital
When: November 11th 2015
How: A copy of this novel was provided by Full Fathom Five for review via Net Galley.
From the moment Laura Rivers steps foot into Englewood High, she notices the stares—and they aren’t the typical once-overs every pretty new girl endures. The students seem confused and…spooked. Whispers echoing through the halls confirm that something is seriously off. “That new girl looks just like her,” they say.
It turns out Laura has a doppelgänger, and it isn’t just anyone—it’s Sarah Castro-Tanner, the girl who killed herself by jumping into the Navasink River one year ago.
Laura is determined not to let the gossip ruin her chances of making a fresh start. Thanks to her charming personality and California tan, she catches the eye of Englewood’s undisputed golden boy, Charlie Sanders, and it’s only a matter of time before they make their relationship official.
But something is making Charlie and his friends paranoid—and Laura soon discovers it has to do with Sarah Castro-Tanner.
What really happened to Sarah? Why is Charlie unraveling? And how does Laura Rivers fit into it all?
After all, she’s the dead ringer for a dead girl.
I was debating whether or not to rate Dead Ringer two or three stars, but the mystery aspect of the book grabbed that extra star from me. The rest of it wasn’t so worthy.
I’ll go with the two star worthy parts first.
– The unaccounted for narrator. Dead Ringer is told through three different third person narratives. The fist is Laura Rivers, the girl who looks like Sarah Castro-Tanner, who is believed to have died by suicide 18 months prior. The second is Charlie Sanders, a boy who knows more than he’s letting about what really happened to Sarah. And then there’s a third narrator, who I didn’t except, and didn’t really see the need for – Sasha.
Sasha is a hacker stalking Charlie and his friends because she wants to know what really happened to Sarah that night. To be honest, I am not entirely sure that Sash’s perspective was needed, albeit in a few places. I think that a lot of her sections could have been cut out.
– The length. There was a lot of superfluous stuff that happened, and inner monologues that repeated themselves again and again. And then there were things that needed to be in there. For example: the progression of Laura and Charlie’s relationship was skimmed over. There was a lot of telling, and hardly any showing. Half of their relationship was developed through “Charlie had come over and watched movies with Laura after she texted about her parents fighting”. Why didn’t that scene actually happen? Same with Charlie and his mother. I think there were about three exchanges between them in the entire book.
I think that a lot of the repeated stuff could have been taken out, or at least replaced with scenes that should have been in there.
– The pacing. I think this mostly tied into my point about the length, but I felt like the mystery aspect of the book didn’t really come into play until the end. There were heaps of taunting emails and texts, and I think the creep factor could have been upped just a little bit to keep the plot from stagnating.
– The characters. I didn’t like any of them. I felt like Laura was pretty superficial, that Charlie was a childish boy, and that Charlie’s friends had potential to be interesting but were left out except for repetitive conversations about “that night”. Because I wasn’t a fan of Charlie or his friends, I didn’t particularly care that they were spiralling for fear of being found out. I felt like Laura had hardly any substance or role, for the most part, and I wasn’t entirely sure what I was supposed to be feeling for her.
But the mystery, I did like. Even though there were problems with pacing, I kept reading Dead Ringer because I wanted to find out everything. I wanted to know who was messing around with Charlie and his friends, and most of all I wanted to know what actually happened to Sarah Castro-Tanner. Although, some of the reveals had little to no lead up, so there was only a second to realise who was doing what before it was revealed. I think that these could have had a little more impact if there had been some slow trickle of information, or a few red herrings.
Dead Ringer is most likely going to be the first book in a series, because practically nothing was resolved at the end. I’m uncertain of whether or not I will continue, because I’m not sure what else can really happen to any of the characters, but I’ll wait and see.
© 2015, Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity. All rights reserved.
trigger warning: statutory rape resulting in pregnancy, and attempted suicide in this novel