Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Dopple Ganger Chronicles

The Dopple Ganger Chronicles is (currently) a three book series following the troublemaking Dopple twins and their friend Erik on happenstance adventures.

I chose these books to read as a part of the Tyndale Summer Reading Program because I was intrigued by the style of the books. These books are intended to help the reluctant reader learn to enjoy reading.

Some pages look like what you'd expect in a normal book, but those pages are not the norm. Here is a sample of what is more typical in this series:

Well, I thought it was a great idea - part graphic novel, part regular novel...but how was the content?

Book 1: The First Escape

I was less than impressed with this book. While I loved the concept of the book layout (as sampled above), I did not like the fact that the Dopples were troublemakers who bullied their fellow orphans, and the only punishment they ever received was extreme, unjust, and from cruel headmistress.

Shouldn't we be teaching children how they ought to behave instead of giving them examples of bad behavior never handled appropriately? Where were the Christian values (after all, Tyndale is a Christian publishing company)?

It was also a strange book with a seance and creepy talking puppets. Thankfully, the hoax of it all is explained in the book, but it is not something I would want my young child to read. There is the unexplained very strange Madame Raphael (for whom more explanation is given in later books, but some things are just odd).

Also, the "mystery" wasn't what I expected. The book tells a story, but there's not much wondering whodunnit, or whosegonnadoit. Given the mixed style of the narrative, the book is much thinner than it appears (meaning the 200 some pages goes by fast). Overall, this is my least favorite of the DG Chronicles thus far.

Book 2: The Secret of Indigo Moon

My concerns about the twin's character, lack of showing what a family ought to be, and unfit punishment all remain for this second installment of the Dopple Ganger Chronicles.

There is more of a mystery feel to this book, but the storyline is not complicated. NOTE: I do not expect a complex story line for these books, I recognize they are aimed at reluctant readers. They are, however, marketed for youth/young adult, and I feel the story line level is more suited to children in elementary school. Of course, older children could also enjoy these books - especially if they are not used to reading in the first place.

Madame Raphael continues to raise questions (it's stated in this book that she is probably an angel) - and while she talks of The Companion, the kids don't know The Companion, and pray to her in times of trouble. Even though Madame Raphael tells them to pray to The Companion, I think children are more likely to follow the characters lead, which is to pray to the angel (concerning).

Book 3: The Great Mogul Diamond

This book is my favorite thus far in the Chronicles. 1. Because most of my concerns from the previous two books are not present 2. Because we actually start learning more about The Companion and 3. There are ethical/moral questions raised that I think are good for  youth to think about (like - is stealing ok to save someones life?)

Because of what G.P. Taylor did in this book, I'm reserving judgement for the series. I understand that he's probably trying to reach a broader-than-Christian audience and so slowly introducing Christian ideas into the series is likely to be more effective than jumping in midstream. If future books show continued character development and if they accurately incorporate Christian theology then I think this has the potential to be groundbreaking - and not just in terms of the illustronovella, which already is innovative and groundbreaking.

So I have mixed feelings about the Chronicles. My initial reaction to the first two books is tempered by the improved third book. One thing I would recommend for certain: read them in order. Otherwise, you're very likely to be lost.

I read all three books as a part of the Tyndale Summer Reading Program (which I explain in detail along with the  TyndaleRewards.com program here, if you are interested in signing up for Tyndale Rewards, you can do so here.) This post may contain affiliate links. This means that, at no additional cost to you, I may receive compensation for referring business. All opinions are my own. Thank you for your support!

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