Sunday, 24 March 2019

Short Review: 'The Other Sister' by Dianne Dixon

Twin sisters, one beautiful, happy and and accomplished, the other plain, sad and lost. Or are they? Who are we, outside of our family? And how much do they dictate who we become? These are some of the questions Dianne Dixon attempts to address in The Other Sister. Part of me would warn against reading the blurb below because it will give away much of the plot twists that kept me hooked to this novel despite its flaws. Thanks to Sourcebooks Landmark and Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this book.

Pub. Date: 1/11/2016
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmarks
Morgan’s twin sister has everything, and she hates her for it. A terrifying crime reveals that those who know us best can either destroy us…or save us.
Ali and Morgan are sisters, fraternal twins who from the moment of their birth share a strangely intertwined existence. But then their connection is abruptly fractured by a series of startling changes that begin when Ali suddenly moves from Rhode Island to Los Angeles. Almost immediately she is raped, by a man wearing a very peculiar set of clothes. Then, years later, in ways that are both harrowing and transcendent, Ali’s life (and Morgan’s) is sent spinning into chaos by a bizarre discovery: the rapist’s clothing, neatly packed away in a small, brown suitcase. The suitcase is hidden in the attic of a house that Ali has only recently moved into.
How could this be? How, and when, did that suitcase get into that attic?
The startling answer to this question has its roots in a place of guilt, and of love—in the need to belong and the need to be free—in small accidents and dark crimes—and in an elusive search for atonement. 
The Other Sister tries to be a lot of things. On the one hand it is a family drama, on the other hand it is a suspense novel, and on an unexpected third hand it is a bit of a coming-of-age story. The story twists it way through the different genres, never quite settling and therefore never quite achieving a solid status. Dixon has too many ambitions for what is a relatively large book at almost 400 pages.
This book is very dramatic. Now, I love drama, it drives a plot forward, it brings out all the emotions, and it usually leads to scenes that stay with you for a long time. The Other Sister has drama aplenty but unfortunately it backfires. There are so many twists and turns throughout, subplots that don't seem at all relevant and then also fail to become more relevant later on, that you'll get lost. The biggest reason I kept reading was the sheer fun of it. The Other Sister felt like a soap opera, where something as tragic and horrifying as a rape happened one evening, to be followed the next by a suggested girls' ski trip.

My biggest issue with The Other Sister is the characterization. Now, one of my favourite novels is Wuthering Heights, so I have no issue with unlikeable characters. But I need them to be realistic, I need to be able to at least partially understand their motivations, the reasons behind their cruel behavior. The tension between Ali and Morgan is incredibly toxic and I could never imagine treating my sister that way. Dixon hops from one dramatic moment to the other, with characters seemingly going through enormous emotional upheaval without it ever truly coming alive. What also irked me was the treatment of the rape plotline. It is presented as something of a punishment for Ali, as if truly her life was perfect and she needed something bad to be able to appreciate how everyone suffers in their own way, or something like that. You can imagine why I wasn't a fan. I was expecting more, but in the end I only finished The Other Sister out of sheer stubbornness.

I give this novel...

2 Universes!

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