review: Dead Ringer by Jessie Rosen

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Thanks to NetGalley and Full Fathom Five Digital for the ARC in exchange for an honest review. It’s appreciated, as always!

Official Synopsis
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.

Well… this reminded me of “Pretty Little Liars”, which isn’t a bad thing, but I think I’ve aged out of this demographic and genre, so I may not be the best judge.

Dead Ringer IS an interesting and well-written book. Told from three different perspectives, the book is about a core group of friends, and the way their lives are rocked by the arrival of a California girl who is the spitting image of a dead girl. Laura Rivers is surprised and dismayed at the looks she gets when she begins her first day at Engelwood High – people are afraid. Of her.

Turns out, Laura resembles Sarah Castro-Tanner, a troubled and depressed girl who killed herself by jumping off a bridge, leaving behind more lies than truth. Laura begins to date the high school’s golden boy, Charlie Sanders, who although freaked out by Laura’s appearance, still cannot stay away from her.

What begins as a fairly standard YA novel, soon becomes a quagmire of he said / she said / they said / what the hell is even going on. It’s unputdownable. Mostly, I just wanted to KNOW. I will admit I guessed the outcome, but that doesn’t make it any less shocking. I often guess these kind of plot twists, mostly because I try to dream up the least likely outcomes. I give props to Jessie Rosen for one of the more effed up characters I’ve met in fiction – rivaling anything Gillian Flynn could ever put down on paper. This person is cracked out beyond belief.

A few quibbles: straight away, I got by annoyed certain things – the Sarah/Sasha name similarity, the constant repetition of “Sarah Castro-Tanner”, how the book could have used a trim (it’s way too long), the often awkward phrasing for teenagers (who says things like “As your friend, I just want to be here for you, will you let me?” as a sixteen year old? That’s a paraphrase, but it sounds like a lot of things Laura says – especially to Becca) and really, it’s all a bit unbelievable. But it IS entertaining, and that’s worth a lot.


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