The Literature Hub
Reviewed by Ashleigh
Author: Janice Harrell
Publisher & Pages: Scholastic, 222 pages
Audience: Young Adult
Blurb: And then there was one . . .
I took over my sister’s life after she died, slipped into her place without missing a beat. I wore her favourite fuzzy sweater, kissed her boyfriend, inherited her friends . . . and her enemies.
Elizabeth and Isabel hadn’t seen each other since their parents divorced when they were three. Isabel stayed with her father, a brilliant and reclusive author. Elizabeth ended up with her mother, a jet-setting socialite who hopscotched her young daughter all over the world. Then Isabel is murdered – and her twin wants to find out why. Because she was out of town when it happened, Isabel’s friends don’t know she’s gone. And if Elizabeth has her way, they’ll never find out. Only Elizabeth will know – and the killer.
Highlight: Each character has unique personalities.
Caution: Elizabeth’s attraction to her twin’s boyfriend seems rushed and/or forced.
Highlight: Read this book alone at midnight. It makes it that much more suspenseful.
Caution: At first, before you really get to know the characters, they can feel a bit flat.
Review: Twin Sisters would have been creepy back when it was first published. Today? Not so much. The book cover for this story gave me the impression that it would be a horror novel, but the story itself falls far from reaching that threshold. Rather, Twin Sisters is a novel of suspense, and at most it is a thriller. If you’ve read through the Highlight’s and Caution’s, you will notice that a highlight was to read this book at midnight, alone. Why? Well I read this book both in the daytime and at midnight, and reading it in the dark made it slightly scarier.
I’ve had Twin Sisters for a few years now, and I don’t even remember how I acquired this book. I’ve read it countless times, both as a teenager and now as a girl in her 20s. This book has never scared me, but it has unsettled me at times (again, read it at night). It wasn’t so unsettling while I was reading it, but once I started thinking about it. If you think about it, you’ll understand why.
The whole premise is that a twin steps into her sister’s place almost seamlessly. Elizabeth, the twin raised by their mother, hasn’t really had a chance to put down roots in her lifetime. Her life has been dictated by the whims of her mother. When Isabel dies, of course Elizabeth is sad, but she also sees a chance to settle down and have a normal life.
Isabel was raised by their father, an eccentric author who rejects human interaction at almost every opportunity. She didn’t have such a bad life with her father, and the two were incredibly close. It makes sense though, because Isabel had always felt rejected by her mother, which in turn made her resent her mother, given both Isabel and her father something in common.
If that doesn’t creep you out, maybe the way Elizabeth so easily pretends to be Isabel might. Feigning memory loss after a break in during the summer, Elizabeth brushes aside any inconsistencies in her behaviour with such ease that I was left wondering how well Isabel’s friends actually knew her. Isabel’s boyfriend’s non-reaction was particularly concerning. He claims to be in love with Isabel, devoted to her, but he doesn’t notice that Elizabeth has taken over. When he does find out that it’s Elizabeth and not Isabel, he declares his love for Elizabeth.
The whole relationship between Isabel/Elizabeth and Rob is weird. From Rob’s point of view, he’s dating Isabel and nothing has changed. Elizabeth knows nothing about Rob, and yet a few weeks after she becomes “Iz”, she declares her love for Rob. She’s not doing this as Isabel, but as herself, only Rob doesn’t know it. To me, it felt as if their relationship was forced. I suppose that was the point (Elizabeth is pretending to be Isabel after all) so that’s good writing by the author, but it did feel weird.
Is that the point though? Is this less a crime novel and more of a horror/thriller? Either way, Twin Sisters is a novel based around a crime, so that’s why I classed this as a crime novel.
I get the feeling that this novel was aimed at teenagers, because the characters felt a bit flat at times. Sometimes they seemed so real, but other times they were just words on a page. For a novel, this book isn’t that long. I feel that the characters could have used some more fleshing out, more development, and I am disappointed that this book wasn’t longer.
By the way, if you do read this book, I highly recommend reading the sequel Twin Terror, because the Twin Sisters ending leaves the story feeling unfinished. It stands as a novel on its own, but I do think that you will need to read the sequel for it to feel more finished. I haven’t read the sequel myself, but I plan on doing it as soon as I can hunt down a copy of it. I think the books may be out of print now, so second-hand bookshops may be the place to go.
I really enjoyed Twin Sisters, for what it was. It was an enjoyable, easy read, and I love reading this late at night.
Star Rating: 3 stars
Available in: Paperback