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Friday, 3 September 2010

Review: The Double Life of Cassiel Roadnight

Author: Jenny Valentine

Release date: 5th August 2010
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Realism, Contemporary YA Fiction
Target audience: 11+
UK Publisher: Harper Collins

Summary from Amazon:
Two boys. One identity. He can change his life if he says yes…

An explosive new mystery from the award-winning author Jenny Valentine, The Double Life of Cassiel Roadnight is the story of a boy who assumes the identity of a missing teenager and in-so-doing unearths a series of shattering family secrets – and the truth about who he really is.

The Double Life of Cassiel Roadnight is a mystery, a thriller and a story of stolen childhood. In the beginning there is a boy who has been living on the streets and hiding from something. For two years, since he was 14, he has been lost and suddenly when he arrives at a hostel he sees an opportunity to assume another missing boy’s life. That boy is Cassiel Roadnight. And so, the narrator of our story lets himself imagine that being Cassiel will be his dream come true. He will have a family who love him, a home and a name to call his own.

The boy has a painful story to tell. From the age of ten up until he was fourteen, he was trying to escape the foster and residential care system. Everything he has believed about his life is ripped away from him and he spends those years not understanding why. Finally there comes a time when he realises that he has no name. He is nothing and no one. It is a really sad tale of disrupted childhood that will tug at your heartstrings.

But the story is about the double life of Cassiel Roadnight and how our lost boy takes that life and imitates Cassiel. I should say that the boy and Cassiel look very similar. The novel plays with themes of doubles and disguises, appearances and deception and identity and faces. It also poses question about family—what it is and what it means. It asks how do we become who we are.

At the very heart of the story are two mysteries. Firstly of the boy who tells the story: how did he get so lost? Secondly, of Cassiel: just why did he disappear that November night? The plot is intertwined around the two mysteries and the hidden past of the two boys. As the reader, you guess and double guess the truth behind the lies and the fear that is palpable in the narrative.

It is a touching and saddening journey that you take with the lost boy. It is also tense and chilling as the actions unfolds into a thriller. The Double Life of Cassiel Roadnight will tangle you up in its web of lies and deceit and keep you on your toes until the very end. Riveting!

Thanks to Harper Collins Children's Books for sending me the book to review.


Clover said...

Ooh! This review has made me even more excited to read this book. I adore Jenny Valentine! Have you read her other books? She's fantastic. So I'm fairly certain I will love this one too.

Irena @ This Miss Loves to Read said...

Wonderful review! I love thrillers, and this story of a boy assuming another boy's identity sounds so very intriguing. I can just imagine its complexity and the tension. Thanks for sharing!

Keren David said...

I've read that this is a reworking of Josephine Tey's classic Brat Farrar, which is a wonderful book.I'm really looking forward to see how Jenny Valentine has updated it.

So Many Books, So Little Time said...

I'm really looking forward to this. I love her other books, too. Have you read them? I recommend Broken Soup.

Christina/Book Addict said...

Great review, Becky. I haven't read anything by Jenny Valentine, but this one sounds interesting. Do you think middle school boys (ages 11-13) would enjoy this one? Let me know what you think.

Liz. R said...

Ooh, I've been looking forward to this one! Glad to see you enjoyed it :).

Dwayne said...

I would never have thought from the cover that this is as intriguing as it sounds. Great review Becky!

I Want To Read That said...

Ooh sounds good! I haven't read anything by Jenny Valentine but people keep recommending them. Might have to investigate:)

Becky said...

Clover, I haven't read any of Jenny's other books. I really must. I hear that Finding Violet Park is brilliant.

Irena, I am not usually a thriller girl but I loved the narrative voice in this novel.

Keren, I hadn't heard or read anything which said it was a reworking. I will take your word for it. I confess I haven't heard of that book...

Sophie, I hope you enjoy this. I am obviously missing out as this was my first jenny Valentine read.

Christina, definitely boys in the 11-13 age group will enjoy it but I would also say that it has cross-gender appeal. A great one for the classroom :-)

Liz R, it was such a great book. Hope you get to read it soon and thanks for stopping by. Welcome to my blog! :-)

Dwayne, I agree the cover is rather deceptive but do you see how this plays with the theme of the novel?!! Cool stuff!

Sammee, we need to begin our Jenny Valentine education!

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

You are an amazing review. Thank you for the excellent thorough review. You always paint clear pictures :)

Amy said...

I have only read one of her books but this sounds really good.