Finding a fantastic thriller tends to be a challenge, since so many of them tend to fall short of their promise to, well, actually be thrilling. Dead Ringer by Jessie Rosen is a book that will captivate you, and completely change the game for those who enjoy YA thrillers. It’s fast paced, fun, and keeps you guessing with the many plot twists and elements that you will never see coming.
Almost two years ago, in a small town, a young girl named Sarah disappeared. They found several articles of her clothing in a river, and assumed that she had committed suicide. While they never found her body, everyone in town tried to put it behind them, saying that she was a mentally disturbed girl, and that it was a tragedy.
Flash forward to the present, and a new girl shows up at the school. Her name is Laura, and she bears an incredibly striking resemblance to Sarah…enough to make a lot of the kids at her school quite uncomfortable.
She is instantly befriended by the school’s soccer star, Charlie, and his group of friends, except for his on again-off again girlfriend, who is slightly spooked by Laura and thinks something is a little bit off. She also isn’t too happy with how Charlie has developed feelings for Laura so quickly…and how Laura also has feelings for Charlie. As events unfold and we learn more about Laura and the secrets that Charlie and Amanda are working so hard to keep, we are drawn into a dark world full of twists, turns, and surprises that you will never see coming.
This book is utterly amazing. It reminded me a lot of Pretty Little Liars, so if you enjoyed that series, I can guarantee that you will love this book, too. The chapters have several characters narrating them per chapter…for example, there will be a section told in Laura’s point of view, then a section told in Charlie’s point of view, and even a section told in Sasha’s point of view.
Sasha is an interesting character, and you don’t really learn about her until the second half of the book. I found her part in the story a little confusing at first, but trust me, it all gets wrapped up neatly by the end of the book. Secrets are revealed, and while there is a bit of a cliff-hanger at the end (sequel, please!), it isn’t anything that will really ruin the whole story, the way other books have done. It didn’t make me want to throw my Kindle across the room or anything, so there’s that.
While I loved all of the characters, even though we find out some things about some of them that ends up turning them unlikable, they were still fantastically written and fun to read. Laura was my favorite, and I loved her character and how she handled everything in the book. She was full of surprises!
The plot twists are incredible…I had my theories, especially developed during the second half of the book, but I was pretty much clueless for the first half, and I liked it that way…I like to be surprised when reading (and if you do, too…then this book will be right up your alley).
Check this one out – you won’t be disappointed!
Note: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Dead Ringer: Fiction Vs. Reality
by Jessie Rosen
Every author will tell you that when it comes to some details of their novel, life inspires art. In other words, some of it is 100% real.
The moment I found out that DEAD RINGER was going to make the exciting transition from book proposal to book, my mind started spinning with all the details from my own life that I’d been hoping to bring to the story. In some cases that meant giving real friends a little shout-out with characters named in their honor. In many cases that meant hiding true details to protect the innocent…or guilty. Here are just a few of the dozens of true tid-bits from DEAD RINGER, as well as a few pieces of fiction. After all, you can’t write a twisty thriller without keeping some of the way your crazy mind works a secret!
FACT: Englewood—where DEAD RINGER takes place—is a real town in New Jersey, and it’s just as posh as the story suggests.
I grew up in Central New Jersey, and the gorgeous, wealthy towns closest to Manhattan were always so intriguing to me. I loved the idea of writing about a picture-perfect environment that, in reality, is anything but pristine. Englewood is the town next to Tenafly, where my husband grew up. It didn’t hurt that it has a nice ring to it!
FICTION: There is no famous suicide in the real Englewood.
The idea of Sarah Castro-Tanner’s death being a famous Englewood event is complete fiction, as is the idea that it could be the first suicide in any town’s history. Sadly, high school suicide is a reality for almost every town in the country. I wanted to highlight that fact and talk about the very real issues that might lead a person to that point. In the light of it all, we’re learning about the powerful effects of bullying.
FACT: Charlie Sanders is TOTALLY based on a real boy.
Of course he is! Every author wants the chance to secretly write about her high school crush/relive the crush! In this case the name was changed (and no, I am not telling), but I created the character of Charlie based on a boy that I was so in love with as a freshman and sophomore in high school. I’ll come a little bit clean and reveal that we did eventually kiss…on the beach…at sunset (swoooon). But that was the end of that, sadly. His gorgeous smile and charming personality live on as Charlie.
FICTION: Laura Rivers is not based on anyone real…but she is based on someone from fiction.
I have always loved Hermione Granger for her confidence and self-aware personality. She knows who she is and what she wants, and she’s not going to let anyone get in her way. I wasn’t exactly like that in high school. I was always worried about what people thought and how I could be more likeable to everyone. When I started developing the character of Laura, I wanted her to be the opposite of that version of me and, of course, more like Hermione!
FACT: Every detail of Sasha’s hacking plan and execution is 100% possible.
I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t giving Sasha superpowers when it came to her hacking abilities. I did a lot of research to find out exactly what a real hacker can do—how they might monitor online chatter, how they could track individual people, etc.
FICTION: The average person could NEVER learn those hacking skills so fast.
Sasha is a genius and a phenom (hence her hacker handle). So if you’re considering becoming a world-class hacker in six months flat, think again. Sasha had a lot of help and a brilliant mind, but even she would probably struggle in the real world unless she was never, ever sleeping.
FACT: Charlie definitely could have moved to Englewood in middle school for his soccer career.
I grew up with soccer stars that switched schools as early as grammar school because they showed so much early promise. The fact that Charlie moves to Englewood just to be part of a winning team so colleges will notice is possible, and even likely. It also gave me great stakes for that character and a cool connection to Amanda.
FICTION: The apps CO uses to terrorize Charlie and his friends aren’t real.
I’m sure you could tell that SnapChat and Yik Yak inspired them, but I wanted to create original names and some unique capabilities to help with the storytelling. Who knows, maybe I’ll go into app development next?
FACT: The big reveal…
Okay. Without giving anything away I can confirm that the big secret you’ll finally know towards the end of the book is 100% possible. So when you’re screaming at your e-reader, “NO WAY! NUH-UH! THAT COULDN’T POSSIBLY HAPPEN!” just know that I did a lot of careful research to be sure it was absolutely, positively possible. Not that it isn’t totally crazy, but still.
I so hope you enjoy all the details of DEAD RINGER, fact or fiction. And if there are any burning questions still remaining, feel free to post them in comments, and I’ll work with Here’s to Happy Endings to see if we can’t get a few more answered. Thanks, guys!
Read DEAD RINGER and figure out what the big reveal is that Jessie’s talking about! Buy it on Amazon, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Kobo or direct from the Full Fathom Five Digital store (direct purchases give Jessie more royalties!).