Well, first I was lucky enough to get an egalley of this on Netgalley from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Book Group. Then, I found someone willing to do a book trade for this. I wanted a physical copy because I found out that the author was going to be in town with Cassandra Clare a couple weeks ago. So that was awesome, and actually what I read. But even cooler, was the fact that for the book tour, they went ahead and brought the published copies of this book to sell to those who attended the event. Here it is:
I still just read my ARC, and I am keeping my ARC, I had it signed to me. The finished copy that I bought I immediately donated to the school library where I work. It was so much fun listening to Sarah Rees Brennan ask Cassandra Clare the audience’s questions. I’ve seen Brennan in action before, back at the RT Convention when it was in Kansas City. So I knew everyone there was in for a hilarious time. One of the thing the two authors talked about was how Brennan laughs as she is writing parts that will make her readers cry. And I have to say that she must have been dying laughing as she wrote the end of this book, because I was crying a lot! As with all of Brennan’s books so far, I loved this one. It started out a tiny bit slow, but in no time, it picked right up and there were the types of characters that I love so much from this author, as well as a very interesting new world that she had created. The title is awesome, and it was neat to realize it is a quote from a Charles Dickens book, A Tale of Two Cities, which is fitting, because it has definite characteristics that make it a similar story.
The main character is a girl named Lucie. Lucie is really from the Dark city, the Dark New York, but because of how she went about saving her father from a horrible punishment, she and her father were brought to the Light New York, back to where he came from before he met her mother in the dark city. The notoriety Lucie got from this whole thing ensured that she was able to go to one of the best schools in town as well. It was there that she met Ethan Stryker, son of the most powerful men in Light New York. Ethan isn’t like his father and uncle, he is very sweet, and not as much into all the politics. When we first meet these two, they are coming back to the city on a train from a vacation. Somewhere along the way, during the night, Ethan is ripped out of the train by Light Guards who are calling him a traitor. Saying they have proof, an eye witness. Lucie tries to get the guards to back off by telling them just who he is. But the guards already know who he is, that is why they stopped the train and pulled him off. Before they can kill him, the punishment for his crime, another person steps off the train, a person who is basically Ethan’s twin.
In this future world, there are doppelgangers. These are created by magic, dark magic, in order to save the life of the person they are the exact copy of. But the doppelgangers are supposedly not good, they seem to have lots of dark magic, supposedly they have all the dark in them that has been taken away from the original to save the original. The person who stepped off the train to save Ethan is a boy named Carwyn. Seeing Carwyn, and knowing that they now don’t know for sure who is the person that was being traitorous, the guards let both of the boys back on the train, to go back to the city.
Lucie feels such a level of gratitude to Carwyn. But Carwyn is who he is because of his life, where he’s lived, knowing what he knew about his mother and family, the family who left him in the Dark city. While all of Ethan’s family wants him gone. If anyone sees him it would get out that his father created a doppelganger, something that is very frowned upon. So first the guards who tried to arrest Ethan disappear. While the Strykers want Carwyn to disappear, Lucie tries to be nice and show him she is grateful. But in her effort, she gives him a chance to feel normal for a while, by taking off the collar that all doppelgangers are required to wear. The only thing that really identifies him. Around this time, so many things begin to happen. Lucie must keep up her front, of who she is, and how she can take care of her dad. Her dad was almost broken in the cage they used for punishment on him. But all these things they’ve begun to feel can be their new normal take a turn for the worse when Carwyn disappears, and people start dying.
I really loved the two worlds. I would even love to know more about them. I would love to go back into the earlier world where Lucie’s parents were. Or learn more about what will happen after the end of the book. I feel like this is probably a standalone book, and it does end satisfactorily for that. But the wonderful characters, and the rich world building, made it a story I wanted to keep myself lost in as long as I could.
The night of the author presentation and signing, they wouldn’t let us take our own pictures with the authors, we had to just look for the pictures the professional photographer took. This really disappointed me with Cassandra Clare, as it was my first time meeting her. And the whole lining up and signature part of the event was very disappointing to me. Probably because it wasn’t my first one of those, and I know how they usually go. I’ve even been to ones with either just the library where it took place, and it went find there. I’ve been to some with the bookstore that was also a part of the event, and those have been fine as well. So I don’t know just how everything got to be so messed up. I do have to say there were some people/fans in line that didn’t seem to know how to act either, and when the person working in line was being really slow about putting the post its with my name inside my books, the people behind me tried to go around me. It was very irritating. I didn’t need the post its, the woman was being a pain, I already had the ones I needed, and I had the books arranged by what author they were for. And she wanted me to put all of the books together instead. Of course once I got up to the front of the line, the way she’d had it was wrong, just like I knew. Oh well, it was still great to listen to the authors, and get to talk to them for a minute in the line. Here is my picture as I got to talk to Sarah Rees Brennan. I’m in the background, you can barely see me. 🙁