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VINE VOICEon October 19, 2008
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Kaeleigh and Raeanne are identical twins, 16 years old, mirror images; physically alike but in personality very different. They are half of a deeply dysfunctional family. Their mother, a politician running for office in Washington, has left them in every way possible; their father, a judge, numbs himself with whiskey and pills before coming to one daughter's bed while the other alternately hates him for it and longs for his love.

Kaeleigh, soft-centered, binges and cuts herself, can't feel worthy of the young man who loves her; and finds her only common ground with an 80-year-old woman who lives in the residential center where she works part-time. Raeanne, on the other hand, is tough and cold, has sex with dangerous boys for drugs, steals booze and oxy from her father, and purges to free herself from the venom of her past.

The unbearable events that poison the twins' present are rooted in the past, but just how far back? The car accident when they were eight years old, or further back in their parents' youth? The foreshadowing is woven through the present story, and even if the reader glimpses the truth before full disclosure, the book's worth rests not in its revelation but in the escalation of pain resulting from the family history.

I had not read any earlier books by author Ellen Hopkins so I was unprepared for the highly original design concept of this book. Done entirely in free verse in the alternating voices of the sisters, the words on the page are arranged in patterns that reflect the tone of the story. Letters, hearts, teardrops; tight intense verses; jagged word explosions on the page; and most interesting of all, where the story transitions from one twin to the other, the words on the facing pages mesh together like the teeth of a zipper. I found it literally impossible to put this book down and read it in one long session. The originality of design hooked me, but the intensity of the story delivered a punch that will stay with me for a long time.

In publisher-speak, the category "Young Adult" refers to readers approximately 12 to 18 years old. Identical would be better suited for the more mature reader toward the upper end of that range, having explicit scenes involving sex, alcohol and drug abuse, purging and cutting. Any adult wanting to understand the pressures and realities of teen life will find this book enlightening, and for everyone else it's a fast, riveting read; dark, but beautifully paced and crackling with painful truth. Five stars at least.

Linda Bulger, 2008
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VINE VOICEon December 22, 2011
Raeanne and Kaeleigh are identical twins. Identical on the outside, at least, but inside, the girls could not be more different. Kaeleigh harbors a secret, Raeanne harbors one as well. As Kaeleigh deals with her fathers unwanted affections, Raeanne pines for them. As Kaeleigh binges, Raeanne purges. As Kaleigh pushes boys away, Raeanne juggles multiple partners. What happens when all the secrets bubble to the surface?

I have read many of Ellen Hopkins' young adult books, but this was, by far, the most powerful of them all. This book focuses on trauma, and the effects it can have on the lives of everyone involved. Trauma spanning generations, states, political affiliations. There is also an emphasis on seeking wholeness in unlikely and unhealthy ways. We see brokenness in nearly every character in the book, each of them using different means to feel whole again.

I thought the character development was so incredibly done, particularly once the secrets are all revealed. This is one of those books that, once you know the ending, you are compelled to go re-read it again, looking for all the hidden clues. And Hopkins is a master of hidden clues. I found this writing to be really brilliant, and it reminds me why I love novels written in verse form so much.

I know that books with tough subject matter are questionable for young adult readers, so parents should be fully aware of the content before allowing their children to read it. This book is probably most appropriate for young adult readers at the older end of that spectrum, late high school to early college age.
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on May 14, 2013
Ellen Hopkins is definitely one of my tops for favorite authors. Anything she writes I just devour. `Identical' was no different, it was a non-stop, drama filled; punch you in the gut kind of book. I couldn't put it down. Ellen writes her books in such a unique poetic way and yet they pack such a punch that they hit my emotions much harder than any book written in regular verse.

`Identical' touches some very tough issues. Incest, death, attempted suicide, and eating disorders are just a few of them. The girls in this story are identical twins and they go through hell and the sad thing is there are girls all over the world that live through their own personal hell every day. This is their reality. That is one of my favorite things about Ellen's books; she hits on dark subjects and sheds light on them. It makes them more known, when a lot of people live in a world of denial.

`Identical' was such a great book, I don't even think I can do it justice in words. The ending was such a mind warp, let me tell you! It was crazy! I did not see that coming in any shape or form. It was a shocker. I won't give any of it away because it is just too good to spoil.
You will just have to read it for yourself and trust me you don't want to miss this book!
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on April 3, 2015
this book was haunting, tearful and very realistic. hopkins books always tell a story about how we as humans stuggle to be perfect and how we hide our true selves just to impress people. identical really touched at my heart in so many ways that it cant be put into words. hopkins books are never overly dramatic, and its even better because when reading this and her other books you know that somewhere in the world there is someone who is in the same situation that the charecter in the book is in. so its like shes telling there story without really knowing them. i really recommend this book for everyone to read.
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on November 19, 2014
I loved it. I don't think the twist was a surprise, but the reveal was great. The book was well written and intriguing. I would have gone five stars but I wanted more vengeance. I wanted our lead characters to go Freddy Kruger on some people. But even without full blown carnage, I really loved the book.
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on June 4, 2014
Love it! This is the 2nd time I have purchased this book. I gave this one away as a "just because" gift. Ellen Hopkins is one of my FAV writers... it's a teen book but I'm not a teen and I still enjoy her books. Actually... I think I will read this again right now!
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on January 14, 2014
This book makes you hurt for both of the twins each for different reasons knowing the whole time their problems stem from their absent mother and twisted father. The plot twist in the end will surprise you and keep you really thinking. I love Ellen Hopkins as a writer and Crank and Glass are two of my most favorite books and she did not disappoint with Identical I definitely recommend it !!
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on January 5, 2013
I've never read another book by this author,but I decided to give it a try. A really liked this book. The writing style was something I've never come across in a book like this before. Took a few pages to get used to reading that way, but it caught on. The story was intriging. I definitely figured out the ending beforehand because of subtle things. Very enjoyable. The package arrived on time and in great condtion.
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on April 6, 2014
I always think the Ellen Hopkins book I just read was her best by far, and then I start the next one.

This is now my newest favorite of her collections. Though that could change as I'm now reading Perfect.

Her writing style is flawless. Every story has it's fill of emotional baggage, and devastating plot twists. She leaves you sitting at the end thinking, "WOW what did I just finish reading." And I love every page of it.

This story didn't fail at leaving me emotionally wrecked and wanting more. There was a good amount of foreshadowing, but I was still blown away in the end. I love both of the sister characters in their own special ways. I loved how raw and real she is with all of the issues at hand.

YA perfection as always.
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on December 28, 2012
I have read all of Ellen Hopkins books and I love every single one. She writes books that make you really sit down and take a look at your life. She has an amazing ability to write books that appeal to young adults. She was the very first author I read when I started getting interested in reading. This book is amazing and well written.
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