Saturday, September 26, 2020

57. The Duplicate by William Sleator

Meezly lent this to me, a beautiful hardback version that she found at Dark Carnival.  She had bought it as a gift for my nephew but decided she wanted to read it first.  I had never read it, but I really feel like I must have read some of his books before.  They really look like the kinds of books I would have taken out of the library when I was in my early adolescence.  The story here is about a teenage boy who stumbles upon a strange device on the beach near his house.  He is in a bit of a dilemma because he has finally gotten a date with the cute girl in his class that he has a crush on (to help her with her math homework) but he forgot that he is supposed to go to his grandmother's birthday at the same time that evening.

He sees a seagull poke at the device and suddenly a second seagull appears.  Not sure what he saw, he takes the device home and starts testing it out and ends up with a copy of himself.  At first it seems like the solution to his double-booking but very quickly the logistical problems make having a second version of himself more trouble than benefit.  What clothes will they wear?  Who is going to eat dinner?  Who goes to school and where does the other one go.  Even more difficult, who gets to go on the date and who has to go to grandma's birthday party.

It's a quick read and aimed at adolescents, but it really does explore the issue to its peak and things get pretty dark.  I am sure there are equivalent books for young adult readers today, but I feel like a lot of them are quite safe.  Hunger Games, Harry Potter, they are all in a fantasy world.  Books like The Duplicate force you to ask yourself what you would do if you suspected your duplicate was actually plotting to kill you.  It's good.  I also like that the girl in the end is quite level-headed and cool.  A nice little interim read.  Now we will send it on to the nephew.  

Yes, reading his obituary, I do think I had read some of his earlier books. They sound really intriguing.

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