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Review of "Bad Twin" by "Gary Troup"

International communism. The bubonic plague. The mischievous “Others” from Lost Island. All of these things are worse than Bad Twin.

But not by much.

The author of Bad Twin, Gary Troup (the name is an anagram for “Purgatory”), perished in the crash of Oceanic Flight 815 over Lost Island. The manuscript was discovered by the fuselage survivors of the crash, and has figured into two episodes of LOST.

Bad Twin is the tale of two “mirror image” twins (identical except one is right-handed and the other is left-handed). The mystery starts at as a rehashing of The Prodigal Son, so much so that the characters discuss that parable looking for clues. Gradually more thematic elements are introduced and rehashed — from Shakespeare, Dante, and more. All of this should add up to a top-notch mystery, especially for LOST fans. It doesn’t.

The connection to the mythos of LOST is unclear. While LOST elements are mentioned — The Hanso Foundation, Alvar Hanso, the Widmore clan, and even Paik Heavy Industries, the book either takes place within a fictional world within that fictional world, or is even less related to the show than the online game, The LOST Experience. For instance, in the second season finale of lost the Widmore family played a vital role. However, Bad Twin is of negligible help in understanding it because the TV show focuses on the UK side of the family, while the book discusses the American side.

Bad Twin has some interesting twists, but most of the plot is either painfully predictable or merely arbitrary. An ending that would be controversial in a better written book, and the political implications thereof, are telegraphed early by the author. At the same time the last section seems composed of one “As it turns out” after another, as the author ties up one lose end after another.

As both an extension to the TV show LOST and a mystery, Bad Twin falls flat. If you want to spend more time on LOST, listen to the very good, free podcasts developed by the online community of fans. The Lost Podcast with Jay and Jack, the Generally Speaking LOST Podcast, and the theory-heavy LOSTCasts are all better than Bad Twin. Those expecting a fun mystery would do better to read Dean Barrett, author of Skytrain to Murder.

Do yourself a favor. Avoid Bad Twin.

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