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The First Escape (The Dopple Ganger Chronicles) Hardcover – September 1, 2008

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 and up
  • Series: The Dopple Ganger Chronicles (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Tyndale Momentum; First Edition edition (September 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1414319479
  • ISBN-13: 978-1414319476
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #604,758 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 4–7—Part fiction, part graphic novel, and part picture book, The Escape is a tale of Saskia and Sadie Dopple, twin orphans, forcibly separated by an eccentric cast of characters; and ex-burglar Erik Ganger, who aids them in reuniting. Set in Britain in the early 20th century, the story has a gothic feel, if a slightly absurd one, reminiscent of Lemony Snicket's "Series of Unfortunate Events" (HarperCollins). Saskia is adopted by wealthy writer Muzz Elliott, whose grandfather lost quite a bit of gold at her estate. When criminals seek to dupe Elliott and replace her, both Elliott and Saskia are in mortal peril. Meanwhile, Sadie and Erik escape from the orphanage, only to fall into the clutches of an insane retired magician. The prose flows somewhat awkwardly into paneled storytelling and back out again, and while the style is innovative, the pacing doesn't work consistently in the two formats. Additionally, bits of religious philosophy seem tacked on rather than integral to the story. While fans of Snicket or Roald Dahl may enjoy the absurd tale, and the narrative's mix of prose, panels, and pictures is intriguing, the story itself falls short.—Alana Abbott, James Blackstone Memorial Library, Branford, CT
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Billed as an “illustronovella”—a mix of prose and graphic novel—this first entry in the Dopple Ganger Chronicles boasts an enticing design, moderately successful story, and Taylor’s signature blend of frenzied atmospherics that’s equal parts mayhem and mystery with a modern Victorian sensibility. Orphaned twins Sadie and Saskia Dopple are separated when Saskia is adopted and bustled off to live in a creepy mansion. Sadie escapes the tightfisted rule of the orphanage to reunite with her twin, and the children are beset from all sides by menacing grown-ups whose plots, while not always clear, are always nefarious. The points in which the action shifts from paragraphs to panels can seem arbitrary and disjointed, leading characters to sometimes speak things aloud that are better left to straight description. The brief cameo by an “angel,” who alludes to higher-purpose adventures, suggests the series’ religious theme. That hint is so understated here it may go entirely unnoticed, but expect a higher religious profile in subsequent books. Grades 6-9. --Ian Chipman

More About the Author

A motorcyclist and former rock band roadie turned Anglican minister, Graham Peter (G. P.) Taylor has been hailed as "hotter than Potter" and "the new C. S. Lewis" in the United Kingdom. His first novel, "Shadowmancer," reached #1 on the "New York Times" Best Sellers List in 2004 and has been translated into 48 languages. His other novels include "Wormwood" (another "New York Times" best seller which was nominated for a Quill Book Award), "The Shadowmancer Returns: The Curse of Salamander Street," "Tersias the Oracle," and "Mariah Mundi." Taylor currently resides in North Yorkshire with his wife and three children.

Customer Reviews

This was my first time reading a book like this, and I have to say that I found it quite fun and enjoyable!
It has text (to the reading level of my other books and equivalent to Pullman) as well as full page illustrations - word art - graphics and manga comic strip.
I wasn't really a fan of that back and forth and also never really got to know the characters well enough to like any of them.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By S. Stevenson VINE VOICE on September 13, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I'm always on the lookout for really good new books, and when I saw G.P. Taylor's newest book: THE FIRST ESCAPE, I thought it looked like it'd be pretty good. I had seen the cover art for some time and definitely wanted to read through it. When I finally did get my hands on the book, my emotions were mixed.

I knew that this book was a "new" format called the Illustra-Novel, and being a fan of comics / manga, I thought it sounded pretty good. While the cover art for the book looks great, I will say that when I saw the graphic novel sections, I was disappointed. First off, I'm a fan of old-school animation (not super old, mainly I'm thinking eighties, early nineties -- when animation was smoother). The drawings in the comic blocks are very squared off and modern-looking. Something I almost detest in modern cartoons. So initially it was a bit of a jump to get into it and get past the drawing style.

One thing I must point out is that this novel format is not revolutionary. All the buzz around the book is about how it's a mix of traditional novel and comics and illustrations. There have been other books before this one that have pulled off the same feat: THE INVENTION OF HUGO CABARET being one -- combining text and full page illustrations, where each page is a comic block in itself. And there are also the SPROUSE BROS. 47 R.O.N.I.N. books that contain sections in traditional comic-book format. I thought both of those pulled off the idea a little better than THE FIRST ESCAPE did. I will say however, that there are some very interesting graphics every now and again -- that I wish there had been more of -- where a real photo was used and then almost brushed to give it a very eerie, gothic look.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Linda Creibaum on June 1, 2009
Format: Hardcover
You know before the end of the first page that "The First Escape" will be a dark story, and it is. The illustrations are spiky and dark, the humor is dark, the protagonists are dark, and the villains even darker. No innocent victims, the Dopple twins instigate mayhem at every opportunity at the School for Wayward Children where they live.

"The First Escape" of G. P. Taylor's "Doppleganger Chronicles" had been on my read list for a long while because of the intriguing name and the publicity comparing it to the J.K. Rowling and Phillip Pullman series of novels. In fact, this tale reminds me more of Lemony Snicket's "Series of Unfortunate Events," but with Taylor's twins Saskia and Sadie Dopple plus friend Erik Ganger substituting for Snicket's Baudelaire orphans. In this adventure story the three teens plunge from crisis to catastrophe and back again beginning even before Saskia is taken for adoption and Sadie runs away from the school to find her. Every few pages reveal a new misadventure or narrow escape, and there's the rub.

The award-winning author spends so many pages on the calamities that there is little left for character development, and the incidents in Taylor's illustronovella often go far beyond the bounds of simply bad taste--literally. He gives a sketch of the facts as to why the children are at the school, but few personality traits displayed are of the heart-warming variety. We never really get to know the characters, and I still wonder why Erik joined the twins he initially seemed to dislike.

I thought the plot was interesting, the end was satisfactory, and some of the tricks with the type fonts were intriguing.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Carrie D. Fox on June 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover
An amazing new book is out for tweens and teens. "The Dopple Ganger Chronicles: The First Escape" is a harrowing tale of two girls that live in an orphanage. They are twins who like to cause a bit of trouble here and there but when a woman comes in who wants to adopt only one girl there is uproar and we get to see the tale unfold of Saskia and Sadie Dopple and their friend, Erik Morrissey Ganger, a former thief. Saskia gets adopted by a rich, but slightly strange woman. While we watch as Sadie and Erik escape the orphanage to find Saskia we also watch a tale unfold at the mysterious mansion that Saskia has been whisked off to. As Saskia stumbles on a plot that puts her life at risk and Erik and Sadie have a gang of enemies chasing them, the three all have to make decisions on who to trust and what to believe. The book is written well and has an interesting feature: it contains comic book illustrations of some of the action and adventure! This book will be interesting to both girls and boys because of that feature I think. I had my 10 year old daughter read it and she absolutely loved it. The comic book illustrations amused her and she called the book, "awesome and very exciting" and declared the illustrations to be "very cool." I enjoyed it as well, so I think that it is a great book for all ages even though it is aimed at youth.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Bogart on November 23, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Saskia and Sadie Dopple are a pair of trouble-making, rebellious 14-year-old identical twins, abandoned teenagers in the care of Isambard Dunstan's School for Wayward Children. When Saskia is adopted by the wealthy and eccentric Muzz Elliot, Sadie finds herself on the run from the law as she searches for her sister, accompanied by Erik Morrissey - a teenaged caretaker at Isambard Dunstan's.

The First Escape represents the first in a new series of illustra-novels from the pen of bestselling author G.P. Taylor. Illustra-novels straddle the divide between a traditional novel and a graphic novel, alternating pages of traditional text - text intertwined with graphics and standard comic pages. A team of artists and a talented adapter have tackled Taylor's written work, the finished result an impeccable fusion of design, art, and story.

The main strength of the illustra-novel is creating a strong visual theme, and The First Escape oozes stylistic cohesion. The dark cover, orange spine, and carefully black edged interior pages lend an eerie impression to the title on first glance. While the maxim "Don't judge a book by its cover" is oft touted, the opposite can be applied to this work.

While we find the story contents in line with the overall design features there is a striking difference between the cover art and the comic panels scattered throughout the novel. The cover illustration by Paul Green featuring a fluid depiction of Erik and Sadie differs immensely from the angular, blocky style found in the comic panels drawn by Daniel Boulton. Trench coats, voluminous trousers, black boots and the dim, nearly monochromatic palette contribute to a film noir flavour.
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