Review: The Twins by Saskia Sarginson

The Twins - Saskia Sarginson

The Twins by Saskia Sarginson reminded me why I switched from reading adult to YA literature. I don't have time in my day to be bored to tears.


Let's talk about something more interesting:


Today was an exciting day. We finally got the keys to our new apartment. Our very own apartment. This is my first time buying a property and I'm so excited. My eyes are alight with the interior design possibilities.


I am banning the TV from the living room! *gasp* instead I am filling the room with bookshelves. Now, don't get me wrong - I have nothing against television. I quite like television. However, I pretty much exclusively watch reality TV. I hate dramas, I despise plays, I loathe soap operas. They're just so fucking contrived. You know what really gets me? The lighting. Nobody's life is lit like that!! It removes any ounce of believability from these TV programmes, and makes it impossible for me to connect with any of the characters.


Throughout reading The Twins all I could imagine was the settings lit like these goddamn TV shows - You know what I mean? That spotlight on the face for a tense moment; soft, yellow lighting from below for an emotional scene. And don't anybody bring fucking candles into the equation - a single candle does not light up an entire room people!! The whole story felt clunky, forced and fake just like those shitty TV dramas that grate on me so painfully. The dialog was awkward and stilted. I imagined the characters glancing at each other uncomfortably as they spoke, and then clumsily bumping hips and elbow as they struggled to exit stage right. Urgh.

There is nothing likeable about any of these characters, largely down to the fact that they are so achingly two dimensional. I could feel the author trying so hard to make them living, breathing people; I could almost see her bent over her writing desk, white knuckled hand clutching an inky pen, trembling with the effort it took to force pen to paper, a bead of sweat slowly slipping it's way down her forehead. Calm down Ms Sarginson!! I understand it's her first novel, but there's no need to try so hard to impress.


Viola and Isolte are twin sisters, raised by their free spirited and somewhat alternative mother in the Sussex countryside having fled the commune in Wales they once called home. The book is written as a series of flashbacks and present day scenes as we piece together the mystery of what set the twins on two very different paths - Viola towards battling near fatal anorexia, Isolte towards a successful career as a fashion magazine editor. Seeing her sister suffering and nearing the end Isolte makes the journey back to their home town to uncover and finally put to rest the secrets of their past yadda, yadda, blah. It's tedious. Sure some of the description is alright, quite lyrical in places but it's like you get stuck in it, trapped in a pool of golden syrup trying desperately to wade your way free. Help!! Help me!! I'm drowning in it!! It's all too much.


The way the thing is put together gave me the brain ache. The POV switches and the narrative switches and the time and place switches. ENOUGH WITH THE SWITCHING!! It made reading very slow going as I'm trying to reorient myself about twice a chapter because suddenly we're first person, from Viola's point of view in the present day - no wait!! now we're in a flashback to her childhood finding a pus-eyed, bloated rabbit on the path (yes- really!!) and then suddenly we're third person following Isolte's life but hang on a minute!! - she's daydreaming about the past and is it first person? No now it's third person. Yeah, oh-kay Ms Sarginson. That's enough now. Back away from the writing desk, try to get some rest. Writing the story this way is so overwhelming and incredibly disruptive to the flow. It just doesn't read comfortably. The transitions between past and present were not even approaching smooth and I don't think encased in a fog of perpetual confusion and discomfort is the way the author intended the book to be read somehow. But unfortunately that's what happened. Tru fax.


I think the biggest issue I had with this book is the complete lack of plot. Now, I'm no expert but I kinda thought enjoying a plot was an integral part of the whole novel-reading experience. So to be wandering around aimlessly staring at the clouds and then the woods and then the clouds again, occasionally bumping into supporting characters and reminiscing a bit along the way ..... Well, that's not really my idea of enthralling, engaging fiction. I've bought apples off this cart before - a book touted as an engaging contemporary read, told though the medium of flashbacks and I've been sorely disappointed. So what tempted me to once again take a bite out of this poisoned apple?! Who knows!! Maybe I'm nuts.


Hey!! Would you look at that!! We did end up talking about the book after all!! Well I do enjoy a bit of snark. One thing I love about reading is every book is such a personal experience. One person's car crash is another person's plane ride to heaven. I guess that's what makes the world go round. That and recycling - never forget to recycle. I even have a t-shirt which reminds me of this fact.


Ciao for now my friends!!