Identical - Ellen Hopkins Actual Rating: 1 and a half stars
I was kind and rounded up.

I finished this book last night and I'm still not entirely certain what I want to say about it or how I want to rate it. I wanted to sleep on it, mull it over - I'm still at a loss. So, I'm just going to start writing and hope that whatever spills out gives me an appropriate star rating.

What the back of the book says: "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. But behind the facade, each sister has her own dark secret."

First of all, during the entire book, I couldn't remember the girls' names, so I was calling them Twin 1 and Twin 2. I'm probably just going to continue that into the review, because that'll let me have more of a stream of consciousness, try to get this all out.

Twin 1 is being raped by Daddy, and Twin 2 wants to be raped by Daddy. I almost had to stop reading on page 25.
"...And if Daddy would just stand
still for me, I'd happily tap his core."


I threw the book against the wall at that point and walked away. I was pissed, and honestly, I still am. That was a clue that perhaps this book was written for the shock value, and not entirely for tackling the issue. I know it's a hard issue to tackle, but I've read books with similar subject matters and none of them have left me with a book on the other side of the room and twitching. Shock value is not synonymous with tackling difficult issues. One of the reviews I read on Goodreads, that I can't find at the moment - if you find it, let me know and I'll link to it - called this book "trauma porn." At this point I am inclined to agree.

Thank Gods after that point the I want to fuck Daddy, erotic language was largely dropped, because that's what made it seem like Hopkins was just trying to get a rise out of us. There were definitely other scenes that I felt were written for their shock, rather than their value, but nothing that got such a disgusted reaction from me.

Twin 1 is the "weak" twin, who can't say no, is the lead in the school play (Grease). Twin 2 is the "strong" twin, getting stoned daily, sleeping around with her dealers. Both twins have eating disorders of various types, and deal with their pain in less-than-healthy ways. Mom is always away, she's running for Congress, only returning for photo-ops. Daddy's a judge and he's also an alcoholic, control freak.

It was almost a 600 page book, and I had the big twist figured out in the first 150 or so. I think if I hadn't figured it out, I would have stopped reading. It made some of the shock value stuff seem less out-and-out shock value. I'd explain why, but if you still plan to read this, or are reading it and haven't figured out the big twist, I won't give it away for you.

I think that Ellen Hopkins is an incredibly talented author, I actually enjoyed the prose - and I am not a poetry person, not even a little. What soured this book for me is that I didn't think she was actually tackling the big issue, I think she was writing to get a rise. And she got one, but not in a good way.

I think that I'd be interested to read Crank, because that was based on her daughter, so it will probably be less shock-value and more actual value.