Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Doppleganger Chronicles 2: The Secret of Indigo Moon

Graphic novels are full-length chapter books, which combine text, comic strips, and an eclectic assortment of illustrations. G.P. Taylor's Doppleganger Chronicles are an excellent example of graphic novels at their best. The Secret of Indigo Moon tells the story of Erik Morrissey Ganger, and his friends, twins Sadie and Saskia Dopple. The three friends stumble upon mystery, excitement and danger at Dunstan's School for Wayward Children, in London, where they have all been abandoned by their parents.

Erik is the only boy at the school, and is in charge of guarding the tower children are sent to for punishment. While on watch one night, he follows suspicious strangers into a tunnel under the school. There, he finds a note left by the former headmistress, who has been missing for over a year. In no time at all, Erik, Sadie and Saskia are hot on the trail of a burglar, but their attempts to help crime-solving journalist, Dorcas Potts, seem to backfire. Soon, Saskia is kidnapped in a sarcophagus, and the children have only a short time to escape the tunnels, before sewage drowns them.

Throughout the book, Erik, Sadie and Saskia have to learn who they can trust. They quickly discover Potemkin, an evil magician from the first book, is back and intent on seeking revenge on the children, as well as completing his most profitable burglary yet. Although Potemkin is clearly evil, it is harder to decide whether to trust his sidekick, Straker, Lord Gervez, the school's wealthy neighbor, Ms. Potts, the journalist, and the current and past headmistresses of the school. Saskia relies on wisdom from Madame Raphael, a mysterious being who befriended her in book one. Saskia believes Madame Raphael is an angel, and welcomes her help in finding the Companion (an allegorical Jesus figure). However, Sadie and Erik do not believe in Madame Raphael, and are determined to solve the mystery and escape on their own.

As the book ends, Sadie finally meets Madame Raphael, The Secret of Indigo Moon is unraveled, and the children are given the chance to leave the school.

The graphic novel element means there are rarely two full pages of text together. Rather, we read a regular page, then have one or two comic-book pages, then have a page with large margins and one or two paragraphs, (perhaps with a phrase in extra-large, creepy font) and then a two-page illustration and then more text pages. There is no pattern to the spacing of text, comics, or illustrations, and the pages all have black margins, but some have black print on white background, and some have white print on black background.

What I Like: The graphic novel element is fantastic. A fun change for all readers, it can be a lifesaver for those who have trouble paying attention or reluctant readers. Struggling readers often get overwhelmed by the large number or words on a page and they also can lose track of the story among so many words. In The Secret of Indigo Moon, the pictures and comics provide welcome relief from so many words, and they support the text, to reinforce comprehension.

The story itself is fast-moving, exciting and has a dark, London feel to it. It definitely has a different tone than most Christian novels I have read. Its originality will make it a hit with good readers of all ages, as well readers who have more difficulty.

What I Dislike: The novel doesn't work as well as a stand-alone. I felt like I was missing important information much of the time, and I wished I had read Book One: The First Escape first.

Overall Rating: Very Good

Age Appeal: 9-12--I would say 8-teen, (although maybe not before bed for more sensitive readers).

Publisher Info: Tyndale: SaltRiver, 2009; ISBN: 978-1-4143-1948-3; Hardcover, $19.99

Buy it Now at for $16.99

OR Buy it at for $13.59.

Special Information: Amazon does have the "click to look inside" feature for this book, if you would like more information on the graphics.

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