3 out of 4 stars
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The lives of identical twins can be extremely complicated. Maggie’s Ruse by Anne Leigh Parrish is a fiction novel that revolves around the lives of identical twins, Maggie and Marta. They are both expressively creative; Maggie is an artist while Marta is an actress. They live together in the city while struggling to pursue their individual passions. One day, Marta’s friend, Josh drops by their apartment and Maggie decides to impersonate her twin sister. Josh doesn’t even know Marta had a twin. Marta walks in to see her sister kissing Josh, whom she secretly fancied. This causes a rift between the sisters, especially since Josh becomes smitten with Maggie and not Marta. Maggie decides to leave the city instead of disrupting her sister’s friendship with Josh. As they go about their separate ways for the first time in their lives, the twins have a hard time coping without each other. Can they overcome their burgeoning hostility and rekindle their sisterly bond or will they live independent lives forever?
There is something satisfying about reading a novel that is not assigned any particular genre. For one, you don’t know how the story will turn out in the end. This is what kept me interested in finishing this story. However, I think the plot dragged at times. This was apparent from a large number of mundane descriptions, such as what the characters ate, what they wore, or how many times they tried calling/texting someone. A few things were also given unnecessary significance like one character’s blue obsidian ring and another character’s bewilderment at seeing someone who looked uncannily like his deceased relative. These details were mentioned several times so I thought these would lead to exciting events in the plot, but they didn’t. The number of plot twists was few and descriptions of romance were severely lacking. This irked me because a romantic encounter was the main reason why the twins began feuding. These features of the book were the ones which disappointed me the most. This is why I deducted a star from the rating and awarded it 3 out of 4 stars.
Despite its flaws, Maggie’s Ruse contained unique and interesting characters. There were many characters in the novel, ranging from the twins’ friends to relatives, acquaintances, co-workers, landlords, and bosses. Somehow, the author provided intriguing backstories for all of them. They also had distinct personalities and attributes. For instance, one minor character named Carl had a strange obsession with photographing another pair of twins. Another character used to be an anthropologist in Kenya. I really enjoyed reading about these little side-stories that popped up whenever a new character was introduced.
The writing style was also a feature which I liked. The author wrote short, brusque sentences which allowed certain parts of the plot to emerge and end quickly. Since I am an artist, I also enjoyed the artistic descriptions of color and style. I got to see how the subjects of Maggie’s art changed as her life did. There was a scene where she made one single mark on a blank page and she felt as if her whole life was about to change. These little artistic details made her character relatable to me.
This book appeared to be professionally edited. There were only a few punctuation errors, but these didn’t detract from my reading. I would recommend Maggie’s Ruse to adults who may be interested in reading about other people’s interesting lives. Struggling artists and actresses may also find this story to be extremely relatable.
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