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Duplicity by N.K. Traver.


by N.K. Traver.

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415279,442 (3.93)2



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Not what I expected but an interesting concept. ( )
  Claudia.Anderson | Feb 22, 2016 |
No paperback release date
  Kristymk18 | Nov 12, 2015 |
“I had a horrible dream about someone hacking my computer and my reflection moving and taking out all the piercings in my face. And possibly worse, it had ended with the revelation that I’d be toting around a slacker sheet at school. I rub my eyes. Roll my tongue through my mouth. And freeze. I check my ears, my nose. No metal. You’re not dreaming.”

Duplicity lands the reading right in the middle of a relationship gone bad and a failing family.

Brandon the hacker is the boy mama always warned you about: tattoos, dozens of piercings, and a background that can have the FEDs on him in seconds. His favorite tattoo is one that pulls back his skin to show gears and wires, exposing himself to be just a machine. This tattoo is very important to how the character sees himself as well as his relationship with his ignorant parents.

Brandon’s parents are both married to their jobs and can’t understand why Brandon didn’t turn into a well balanced teenager on his own. They worry more about how his behavior will affect their business image than his future, and often ignore him until he acts out.

Emma is the good girl. Puts up with Brandon’s antics and isn’t afraid to do a little shoving back. The author also kept this character real and believable and not just one Brandon can fall back on.

Seb is my favorite side character! He/she is a hacker that is trapped in the program with Brandon but has figured out a few random hacks, including changing his/her avatar back and forth better male and female characters. He/she flirts with “Bran Bran” endlessly, making him completely uncomfortable, as she recruits him to hack their way out of the program.

JENA is a supercomputer that keeps the hackers trapped and monitored. She reminds me of Red Queen from Resident Evil. Her avatar is an innocent little girl, but her mannerisms and words are ominous and evil.

Obran is the name Brandon gives to the preppy duplicate that takes over his life. He does his homework, dresses nice, and helps his mother. What gets under Brandon’s skin the most is that with Obran his parents start to notice they have a son again, despite Brandon’s attempts to distract them from their jobs.

The story itself is amazing and made up of so many layers of sci-fi elements it’ll make fans drool: nanobots, sentient computers, downloaded consciences, overlords, hackers, and bodysnatchers (oh my!). It also brings up plenty of ethics questions so readers who like a good debate on morality would love discussions on this book later. The romance was there, but it didn’t take away from the main plot. Well done.

The story is setup so there might be a possible sequel, and here’s hoping!

Overall, Duplicity is an engrossing debut novel that will keep the reader enthralled throughout the story. I recommend to anyone who likes cyberpunk, young adult romance, and thrillers.

www.readingbifrost.com ( )
  ReadingBifrost | Mar 30, 2015 |
My Review: I have been extremely lucky in the past month or so to have had the opportunity to read YA novels with unique male protagonists. As an educator working with mostly reluctant readers, it is very difficult to find Young Adult books with interesting male leads that will keep teenage boys engaged. After having read The Tragic Age by Stephen Metcalfe and now Duplicity by the brilliant N.K. Traver, it almost feels like I hit the jackpot.

Without adding the science fiction element, the story is quite simple. Brandon Eriks is a 17 year old tattooed bad boy that gains pleasure out of hacking into bank accounts and credit cards for a nefarious organization. Of course he gets his cut, however he doesn't really need it since his parents have plenty of money. Brandon seems to fit the stereotype that comes with being tattooed and pierced-- he isn't doing well in school, he treats everyone with disdain, and is in constant dispute with his parents who start to think drugs might be the reason for his attitude and lack of motivation. Brandon doesn't care what anyone thinks; in fact, he has everyone thinking EXACTLY what he wants them to. Well, except for one anomaly-- Emma. Emma is the one person that sees beyond the attitude, beyond the tats and piercings. And for awhile, Brandon allows it. For once, he lets someone get close. But it can't last. Not with how his parents pick up and move every year. No, it's better for a clean break now rather than heartbreak later.

Then things get a little...crazy. One night while running a program to begin another "hack" job, his computer starts sending him messages. Personal, scary messages:


Thinking someone has messed with his computer, Brandon tries to brush it off until he starts to notice strange things happening to his reflection in mirrors-- his reflection doesn't follow his every move, instead it moves on its own, leaves messages through the glass, and starts to make physical changes to his appearance. Tattoos and piercings are removed (somewhat painfully), clothing replaced with a completely new "preppy" wardrobe, until finally, one day, it is HE that is replaced by his "duplicate". Now Brandon is on the other side of the mirror, watching this "replica" of himself take over his life. What's worse is the fact that Obran (the name Brandon gives his duplicate) appears to be mending the relationship with his parents, getting better grades in school, and getting a little too close to Emma. Why was he pulled into the mirror? Most importantly, how will he get out? That's something you'll have to figure out by reading this suspenseful cyberthriller!

If you like anti-heroes, then you will enjoy Brandon. He definitely isn't perfect and from the very first page you know he is partaking in illegal activities and makes no apologies about it. Bank accounts, credit cards-- he hacks into them all and is looking forward to moving on up to social security numbers very soon. So why should teenage boys pick this book up when the male lead is a slacker and on his way to becoming a criminal? Because despite his less than role model qualities, he is relatable. How many kids do you know have parents that work extra hours to keep their million dollar homes, brand new cars, their lake house but spend absolutely no time with their children? Parents that move every year, yanking their kids out of school, never staying long enough to lay down roots? That is Brandon's life. Despite his standoffish appearance and front he puts on, all he really wants is to be noticed by his parents. He wants to be able to stay in one place long enough to make long lasting friendships and relationships, however, keeping people at arm's length, especially Emma, is the only way to guard himself from being hurt when it is time to move.

Another aspect of Duplicity I liked is that Brandon and Emma's relationship is already established at the beginning of the story. I thought this was a unique twist to the book and allows us to get right into the action.

While there are not too many secondary characters in the book, the one that stood out to me was Seb. Once Brandon is pulled through the mirror into this alternate "landscape",  he eventually meets Seb, an androgynous, mysterious hacker that wants to work with him to get out and back to the real world. Seb has a particular set of skills that Brandon definitely needs to attain their goal, but he is unsure if Seb can be trusted. I'll admit-- I was just as wary about Seb as Brandon was. However, Seb was hilarious and definitely serves as the comic relief in Duplicity. And as the story unfolds, you learn there is more to Seb then meets the eye, things that will have your eyes widening in shock and pulling on your heart strings.

The science fiction element of the story was fascinating and the technology aspect of the story will grab teenage readers and keep them invested since we live in a world where our kids are more technologically inclined then us adults. But even less tech savvy people can enjoy this fast paced thriller even with the introduction of supercomputers and nano chips, etc.

Duplicity is an engrossing piece of literary genius-- from the concept to the plot, to the flawed anti-hero who wants to be seen but is terrified to get attached-- it is hard to believe this book was written by a debut author. The ending will leave you wanting more--is it open ended, left for you to draw your own conclusions or did the author subtly set it up for a possible sequel? I guess we all will have to wait and see. I have no doubt we will be seeing more of N.K. Traver.

Mia @ The Muses Circle ( )
  themusescircle | Mar 18, 2015 |
Source: Goodreads First-Reads giveaway

Themes: Family relationships; finding yourself; identity and our physical manifestation of it; questions of right and wrong and does the end justify the means.

Characters: All of the characters were written well and had depth and dimension. Even Brandon's parents, who were minor characters, had some dimension to them.

POV: Male first person. The book is written from Brandon's point of view.

Romance: I loved that the romance was more understated here. There are no makeout scenes, there is not instantaneous love connection. In fact, when we begin the book, the relationship between Brandon and Emma is already established and in question. The romance feels very authentic to what I remember as a teen: strong, almost overwhelming feelings and some hormones involved but also feeling insecure. The theme of identity is part of the romance as Brandon has to decide if he wants to change his appearance for Emma, and also whether Emma wants him to change.
Insta-Love: No Love Triangle: No

Plot and Pacing: I liked the general idea of this book: that a "better" version of Brandon swaps places with him through a mirror. I think it had a lot of potential and parts of it were exciting. Despite the great idea behind this book, I think it fell somewhat flat. The idea that there's some "Program" out there kidnapping hackers and placing them in a virtual jail seems beyond the realm of believability to me. Yes, I know, this is fiction but even if an idea is not something that could happen in real life, it has to come off as something that could happen in real life. I never really felt like that. Things were definitely explained, I just wasn't buying it. The beginning and the end were somewhat fast paced but I felt that the middle dragged quite a bit. The whole time he was in this digital world, I was just waiting for something to happen. The character Seb was the saving grace during that section of the book, injecting a little bit of humor into an otherwise somewhat boring sequence of events.

Cliffhanger: No. The main plot lines were all tied up although there were some minor questions left unanswered and I would not be surprised to see a sequel at some point.


I didn't love this but I also didn't hate it. There were parts of it I really enjoyed - the male POV, the realistic romance component, the great character development - but I just wasn't a big fan of the plot here. 3 Stars

This review was originally posted on my blog, Cherie Reads: http://cheriereads.blogspot.com/2014/11/early-review-duplicity-by-nk-traver.html ( )
  CherieReads | Dec 11, 2014 |
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