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Doppelganger: Review

Title: Doppelganger
Author: David Stahler Jr.
Release Date: May 2006
Publisher: Eos
Pages: 272 pages
Genre: Fantasy
Goodreads Rating: 3.73 stars

Review: Doppelgangers are monsters that kill people and take the form of their bodies. This is usually preceded by meticulous research so that they can assume their lives as smoothly as possible, and then dispose of them once their limited time is up. One such nameless doppelganger has been abandoned by a mother who hates him, and goes off for the first time into the world. Except he messes up and kills a person, Chris, by accident, and now he has to figure out how to navigate this new life.

Chris seems to have it all - the wealthy parents, the awesome football skills, the respect of everyone in school, and of course, a hot girlfriend. But as the new Chris discovers, the life is far from perfect, with a destructive home life, a little sister he has to save, and the hot girlfriend no longer has the hots for him. Always different from other doppelgangers, Chris must now face a battery of challenges, from fixing the screwed up life he's landed in, hiding his secret and learning some, too, and above all, figuring out what it means to be a monster.

Despite being a monster, Chris remains a likeable character frustrated with his life and the world at large. Although he himself didn't have the easiest home life, he's shocked by the abuse the family had to suffer and learns that the real Chris wasn't as straightforwardly cruel as he initially appeared to be.

A romance develops between him and Amber, the real Chris' girlfriend, even as she uncovers the horrifying truths. The relationship could border on unrealistic, and often Amber appeared to be too accepting of what she discovers. The love seemed too sudden and strong for such a short period of time and especially given the circumstances.

This is a grim story that deals less with the fantastical aspect of doppelgangers and more with Chris adjusting to surviving the world. He struggles throughout the book with several problems, from the moralistic to those normal teenagers can relate to. David Stahler doesn't shy away from portraying the grittier sides of murder and its inherent issues, exploring the confusing sides of "right" and "wrong" without being too overbearing or eclipsing the story. Readers may prefer a better romance, but otherwise, Doppelganger was a suspenseful, chilling, yet surprisingly thoughtful read.


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