Dead Ringer by Jessie Rosen (2015)
YA Fiction | Contemporary | Thriller
“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.”
Dead Ringer expected Publication Date: November 11, 2015
pooled ink Review:
Yes. Yes. YES. Dead Ringer is quite the YA thriller. It definitely managed to keep my attention and I downed the book in one sitting. It’s reminiscent of the TV show Pretty Little Liars except it’s not a clique of girls and it’s condensed down into one book…sort of.
My reactions while reading this book can semi-adequately be summarized as: Okay. Weird. Okay. Let’s see where this goes. Oh dang oh snap oh daaaaaang. Called it. Wait. Hang on. Whaaaaaaat?? Whaaaa?! Okay but I called that. Not that but that. Oh SNAP SNAP SNAP. Hey wait! Sasha? Yessss muahaha. Enjoy it while you got it.
I know that that is probably the least professional and least intelligible series of words but if you read this book then you’ll understand.
Rosen does a very good job with her character development, the plot outline, giving the reader just enough to keep going but not so much that they can do more than grasp at smoke as the puzzle begins falling into place piece by excruciating piece. Everything seemed well thought-out and thorough with a good grasp on the teen psyche. Obviously there are inevitably some decisions that just make me want to shout “Nooo!” but that’s probably largely due to the fact that I’m an adult and not in their shoes. Besides, characters do that every episode on television and as frustrating as they can be it somehow also keeps you coming back for more.
Okay so just one thing that was only semi-irritating is how everyone keeps emphasizing how Sarah was crazy and her actions were the mark of a sociopath, a freak, a crazy person, someone with serious mental issues. But honestly I feel like that’s overkill. Assuming a false identity and writing love letters to your crush isn’t that crazy of a thing. I’m definitely not condoning nor defending it and yeah it’s sort of creepy but honestly it seems a lot more like the desperate act of someone who has been lonely for too long and finally found someone who gave them 2-minutes of their time and a smile.
Maybe she was a bit off-kilter but dang they keep describing her on the level of “Dr. Wells” and his play on The Flash. Really this scenario sounds similar to A Cinderella Story, you know, that movie with Hilary Duff where she has an online chat relationship with a guy and it’s Mr. Popular/the guy she’s been crushing on since forever and then he finds out who she is and freaks out and is like ugh you played me and she cries because her heart is crushed and his cheerleader ex-girlfriend plots revenge on her…except no one died in that movie and in the end everything becomes a happily-ever-after because Disney.
Anyway, Charlie was cat-fished. Plain and creepy-simple. But at least it was just by another girl in his class, someone who really liked him and was just playing out a sad crush. I mean, it could have been a gross sweaty fat guy in Michigan, a creepy cougar lady in your town, or a psycho terrorist. I’m just saying, have a little perspective. Just because someone is super shy and quiet doesn’t automatically make him or her a psychopath. But then again it’s this freaked out mindset that really set the ball rolling now isn’t it? At least a teensy bit.
…okay once you get two-thirds of the way through and find out a very important piece of this whole mystery then yeah okay Sarah was a psycho. Run away!!!
That’s not really a spoiler in case you’re freaking out. But it is hard to write much without wanting to just give everything away and be like ahhhhhh!
Okay…so let’s bring it all in.
The characters are in high school and thus this book contains some predictable and typical high school drama and elements. The book alternates between three different points of view, which is really cool, well executed, and definitely adds to the overall level of this book and the route of its storytelling. Occasionally things are predictable, occasionally things smack you on the back of your head, occasionally things utterly blindside you, occasionally things make you giggle and smile, but mostly this book takes you on a crazy ride with many interesting turns.
Fast-paced, thrilling, and full of tantalizing secrets and threats Dead Ringer is more than a run-of-the-mill YA book and definitely keeps its cards close to its chest straight through to the end.
P.S. Pretty Little Liars plus A Cinderella Story plus a giant dollop of Jessie Rosen’s imagination brings you Dead Ringer. Creepy, romantic, cute, thrilling, and insane.
Purchase here: Dead Ringer
Similar recommended reads: Sanctuary Bay by Laura J. Burns & Melinda Metz
Meet Jessie Rosen!
Jessie Rosen is a writer, producer, and performer. She grew up in New Jersey, attended Boston College in Massachusetts, and began her writing career in New York. Her live storytelling series Sunday Night Sex Talk has received national attention. She was named one of “The 25 Best Bloggers, 2013 Edition” by TIME magazine for her blog 20-Nothings, which was also named in “The 100 Best Websites for Women” and “The Top 10 Best Websites for Millennial Women” in 2013 by Forbes.
Rosen is the oldest of four girls, which gives her a special window into the minds of teenagers. She now lives in Los Angeles, where she’s working on film and television projects, as well as her next novel.