Friday, March 27, 2015

Novel Review: Duplicity by N.K. Traver

Rating (Out of 5): ~4-4.5
Genre: YA Sci-fi/Tech Romance
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books (St. Martin's Griffin)
Release Date: March 17, 2015
Spoilers?: Not really.

Goodreads Synopsis:

A computer-hacking teen. The girl who wants to save him. And a rogue mirror reflection that might be the death of them both.

In private, seventeen-year-old Brandon hacks bank accounts just for the thrill of it. In public, he looks like any other tattooed bad boy with a fast car and devil-may-care attitude. He should know: he’s worked hard to maintain that fa├žade. With inattentive parents who move constantly from city to city, he’s learned not to get tangled up in things like friends and relationships. So he’ll just keep living like a machine, all gears and wires.

Then two things shatter his carefully-built image: Emma, the kind, stubborn girl who insists on looking beneath the surface – and the small matter of a mirror reflection that starts moving by itself. Not only does Brandon’s reflection have a mind of its own, but it seems to be grooming him for something—washing the dye from his hair, yanking out his piercings, swapping his black shirts for … pastels. Then it tells him: it thinks it can live his life better, and it’s preparing to trade places.

And when it pulls Brandon through the looking-glass, not only will he need all his ill-gotten hacking skills to escape, but he’s going to have to face some hard truths about who he’s become. Otherwise he’ll be stuck in a digital hell until he’s old and gray, and no one will even know he's gone.

Huffington Post lists N.K. Traver's Duplicity as part of one of the great YA book trends to look for in 2015!

The Cover:

I rather like this cover. I like how it shows there's two sides to him, and that he's the main focus on the cover (without him being some steamy half-naked man). It could have given more hints to the technological aspect, instead of the mirrors (though mirrors do play a large part), but overall it's pretty good.


  •  "'You do what makes you happy, you keep people around who make you happy, and you don’t second-guess yourself when some jerk makes a pissy remark.’” (Hardback, pg. 64)
  • "'Um, it’s funny to say, considering they’re your parents… but sometimes if you want things to change, you have to set the example.’” (Pg. 162)


I’m actually surprised with how good this was. Given the idea of him being a hacker with a doppleganger trying to take his place, plus a good girl falling for him, this definitely sounded like something I would enjoy. But I wouldn’t usually have picked it up immediately. Now I’m glad I got it, because it was awesome.
Brandon is a hacker, and a very good one at that. He’s secretly making some big money doing it. But very few people know about it, including his parents and the girl he likes. To most people, he’s just a bad boy slacker, with his tattoos and piercings. But then he gets caught, and the Project makes a duplicate personality to take his place while he lives in a digital hell for twenty years.
We’re not given a whole lot of sci-fi explanation for the digital world or how exactly they take him and create a new one and switch them. But we’re given some explanation for how that happens, for how they watch people and hack into things. And it’s mostly just horrible and creepy, the way they work, and how they think they’re doing the right thing.
I really liked Brandon. He’s sarcastic and very hard to get to know. His struggle with being good or bad was very honest and well done, I thought. He’s always been on the bad side, doing everything for himself, and not getting close to anyone. But Emma pushes him, and then he meets someone in the digital world that he grows close to as well. I thought his progression was nice to see.
I really liked Emma. She’s a good girl, with good grades and all that, but she sees a side to Brandon that no one else does. I honestly would have liked to see more of her, but it was nice to see Brandon fighting for her, and deciding to go for it.
Brandon’s parents frustrated the hell out of me. I’m glad they were such a big part of the book, especially since they have such a large impact on him. 
I loved this book, honestly. Brandon was a great main character and I liked him from the very beginning, and his character progression was great. The whole digital world was very interesting, and kind of fun to learn about. I loved Emma. But then the ending happened, and it’s not even really an ending at all. I love the psychological aspect of it, of maybe he’s really just crazy. But it gives no closure, and I’m still upset about what happened to Seb. All I have to say about it is that there better be a sequel.

A review copy was provided by the publisher, St. Martin’s Press. Thank you!

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