Rachel and Alice are an extremely rare form of identical twins--so identical that even their aunt and uncle, whom they've lived with since their parents passed away when the girls were nine, can't tell them apart. The sisters are connected by an intense bond that goes way beyond their surfaces and borders on the supernatural: when one experiences pain, the other exhibits the exact same signs of stress, too. So when troubled Alice disappears mysteriously one night, good-girl Rachel knows something is wrong-especially when Rachel starts experiencing serious physical traumas, even though nobody has touched her.
What Rachel can't tell anyone is that she and Alice sometimes switched places, reveling in the possibility of being the "good one" or the "bad one" for a day. And that Rachel . . . is really Alice, continuing to masquerade as her twin. So then, what happened to her sister? Could whoever abducted her sister really have meant to take her, instead? And can she find the real Rachel before it's too late for both of them?
Warman (Between) crafts an entertaining, if sometimes meandering mystery with a swipe of Dumas's The Corsican Brothers. Eighteen-year-olds Alice and Rachel are "monochorionic monoamniotic" twins: they shared an amniotic sac and placenta. Not only are they identical, but they are also so close that they can feel one another's pain and emotions. They have posed as each other plenty of times, with studious Rachel often helping volatile Alice with her class work or taking a reprimand for her following one of Alice's wild nights. When Rachel goes missing while they have swapped identities, Alice has to keep up the pretense, even as she suffers the physical pains being inflicted upon her sister. Warman's unsettling narrative moves at a slow, deliberate pace with extensive focus on extraneous details; as Alice's world disintegrates into confusion and crisis, readers will question her reliability. Attention to secondary characters (notably the girls' aunt, and their friend Kimber) adds realistic dimension, and despite superfluous supernatural elements and a story line that leaves much unexplained, the novel's tension and pervasive sense of dread should captivate readers. Ages 12 up.