Review: Double Vision

“I had a feeling I wasn’t going to have much of a social life in this remote town. This did not look like a place fun ever visited.” page 5

Double Vision (Twintuition #1) by Tia and Tamera Mowry.
Scholastic, HarperCollins, New York, 2016.
Tween fantasy novel, 204 pages.
Lexile: 690L .
AR Level: 4.6 (worth 5.0 points) .

Identical twins Cassie and Caitlyn Waters are both struggling with their mom’s sudden move to small town Aura, Texas. Nerdy Caitlyn’s eternal optimism is strained, while pessimistic, fashion-conscious Cassie is trying both to break in to the popular crowd and to convince their mom to move back to the big city. But as their twelfth birthday nears, both girls start having strange visions of the future…

Twintuition: Double Vision by Tia and Tamera Mowry.

We first got this book when it was released, around when I started this blog. This review was challenging. You all know how I feel about novels in two voices. I have loved some, but those tend to be few and far between. While I intellectually understand the need for shared narration, it just didn’t work for me here. The story moves back and forth between the two twins who have some commonalities (family, love of music, having strange visions) and many differences (messy vs. clean, nerdy vs. fashionista, optimistic vs. pessimistic). Yet I never felt like the two voices were fully distinguished and was constantly checking to see whose viewpoint we were in. Thankfully that was announced in the header of each chapter – I just wished the main characters had more specific voices.

The every chapter alternation also felt awkward, especially in the beginning before the plot started moving. Because of the attempt to keep chapter lengths consistent (which I do appreciate… as long as it doesn’t mess up the narrative flow), often one character or another would be summarizing events or briefly skipping back in time to fill in from their perspective.

Since the girls start off barely speaking to each other, it’s also challenging to remember who knows what about different things going on in the plot. Once they start reconnecting over the visions and sharing information, the narrative flow and distinction between the girls become less of a problem, so I hope the other challenges are also less of a concern as the series continues.

Although the characters are meant to be in sixth grade, this read a lot more like high school. On the first reading, this really bothered me. The second time around, I was better able to understand that this is probably exactly what the intended audience is looking for – stories that feel like teen stories but without the grit and mature content of most YA.

Since physical contact is needed for visions, it’s an excuse for arm touching, hand grabbing, and shoulder bumps. Cassie finds a boy cute (the feeling appears mutual), and some flirty behaviors occur. One character’s underwear is seen. Cassie is a bit of a mean girl, and humiliates another student to try to boost her popularity. She doesn’t face much consequence, which is more realistic than most MG fiction. Other points of concern are stealing, gossiping, and lying, although those are more negatively portrayed within the story. There is also a physical injury on page.

I liked that the main characters are Black, although there aren’t many culturally specific details. Even the main jock/heartthrob is probably Latino, with the name Brayden Diaz, but most characters are either described as white or not at all. As a parent, I also appreciated the girls not being able to get a smartphone until high school. While this becomes more and more unrealistic every year, it’s nice to see kids who only have a basic phone portrayed who are still normal and even popular.

At six dollars for a new paperback, these are relatively inexpensive. Scholastic doesn’t have a great record with diverse books, but they are also the only publisher in some places due to their book fair models and programs for giving away books. Back when I worked in schools, it was nice to have a few suggestions to steer kids and their grown-up towards.

This introductory book is mainly about the girls coming to terms with their new home and powers, and starting to reconnect with each other. Actual magical effects and how the powers came to be aren’t explored much at all. Caitlyn spends some time researching, and hints are dropped that will presumably come to fruition in the next installment, but this story doesn’t explore the fantasy aspect much.

Although this wasn’t quite what I enjoy as an adult reader of middle grade novels, it’s an extended exercise in wish fulfillment for tween girls. Friendship drama, flirting, a bit of heroics, catty banter, cool fashion, magical powers, and a life like high school without the gritty parts. Hand this to girls who like the Twitches movies.

Author: colorfulbookreviews

I work in a library by day and parent the rest of the time. I am passionate about good books representing the full spectrum of human diversity for every age group and reading level. This blog is my attempt to help parents, educators, and librarians find the best children's books authored by or featuring characters of color.

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