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The First Escape (The Dopple Ganger Chronicles) Hardcover – September 1, 2008
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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
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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
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We all found the artistry in this book to be amazing! Also, while each book in this series is connected, the books easily read as stand alone stories.
I have to report that both of my boys and I LOVED this book. They have raced on to reading The Secret of Indigo Moon (The Dopple Ganger Chronicles)and are eagerly awaiting The Great Mogul Diamond (The Dopple Ganger Chronicles)in the series!
Each of the boys said they really liked the graphic novel parts along with the "regular" reading. They shared that the story is full of action, fun and just a bit scary. Each of them told me it was "a great read!"
Many thanks to Tyndale Publishing for the opportunity to read and review this book. My review is an honest reflection of my views on this book.
Sadie and Saskia Dopple feel trapped. As twin orphans, they feel oppressed at Isambard, their orphanage and want nothing more than to escape their imprisonment. When writer Muzz Elliott shows up looking to adopt, the girls think they've found salvation, but Muzz only wants Saskia and the adventure begins.
Sadie escapes Isambard (with the help of Erik Morrisey Ganger) before facing severe punishment Sadie escapes Isambard (with the help of Erik Morrisey Ganger) before facing severe punishment and possible imprisonment. Together, they attempt to find Saskia so they won't remain apart. Meanwhile Saskia finds trouble of her own as she uncovers a plot against Muzz Elliott and quickly realizes that she needs to escape a new prison of sorts.
Murder, intrigue, and close calls mark the pages of this introduction to the characters of this series, leaving the reader ready for the next installment.
The story begins at the school depicting a normal day of trouble-maker behavior among the children which quickly turns into a story of criminals, murders, and thievery. Without giving the story away, there are lots of twists and turns which make this story interesting.
I had mixed feelings about this book. The story itself is interesting. The plot was well written. The illustrations in the book are very colorful and peak your interest in the story even more. Parts of the book are written in comic strips. This book is 280 pages, which seems like a lot, but reading it was not at all slow. The pages are full of illustrations making this not a heavy read at all.
The part I disliked about this book was that it was sometimes hard to follow the story. Sometimes the story was on Sadie and then it would switch to Saskia. I felt like I had to go back and re-read parts to understand what was happening. Also, this coming from a Christian publisher, I didn't really see any kind of Christian message in it. They made one vague mention of "a voice crying in the wilderness" through a character that was a ghost or possibly an angel, but nothing more was said about God at all. Still, I think maybe there will be something more in the upcoming books that might lead into that, so the jury is still out on if I would consider this Christian fiction or not.
Nonetheless, this book was interesting, didn't lose my attention, and was really something different that what I'm used to reading. I enjoyed the illustrations the most. I wouldn't consider this book up there with Harry Potter, but it was interesting and I think teens would enjoy this book and its twists and turns.
Disclosure: To comply with regulations introduced by the Federal Trade Commission, Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes only. All opinions are my own.