The First Escape

The First Escape

4.1 45
by G. P. Taylor
From the best-selling author of Shadowmancer comes an enthralling new series of illustra-novellas. The First Escape is the first book in the Dopple Ganger Chronicles, a six-book series following three children—Sadie and Saskia Dopple and Erik Morrissey Ganger. Sadie and Saskia are mischievous identical twins living at an orphanage, where Erik is


From the best-selling author of Shadowmancer comes an enthralling new series of illustra-novellas. The First Escape is the first book in the Dopple Ganger Chronicles, a six-book series following three children—Sadie and Saskia Dopple and Erik Morrissey Ganger. Sadie and Saskia are mischievous identical twins living at an orphanage, where Erik is their only friend. They are separated when Saskia is adopted by Muzz Elliott, a wealthy woman searching for her long-lost family treasure. While Saskia stumbles into the center of a crime only she can stop, Sadie and Erik embark on a quest to find her. This book is in an exciting new format called an “illustra-novella,” in which the story is told alternately in graphic novel format and plain text with occasional illustrations.

Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Lisa Martincik
The bratty Ganger twins might live in a wretched girls' orphanage, but at least they have each other. Until, that is, an heirless and reclusive author adopts Saskia. Separated, each girl seems to find even more trouble than they did together, and when Saskia stumbles into a burgeoning murder mystery, Sadie somehow knows she needs to reach her. The school's only boy, Erik Ganger, spirits Sadie away on a chase through city and across heath toward the looming Elliott mansion. Previously released as The Tizzle Sisters and Erik (Markosia Enterprises, 2007), this volume is now packaged to be the first in a series of Dopple Ganger Chronicles. The book's most striking aspect is its mix of text and art; pages of prose segue into a few eye-catching words in a different font and then switch to several pages of essentially color, comic-book narrative. These formats do not overlap but simply move the story forward as if nothing has changed. A statement by the original publisher claims that it is an attempt to hold children's attention. The story is certainly packed with enough elements to grasp a wandering mind, including dog chases, a creepy magician, and lots of exclamation. Amongst the hijinks and brisk pacing, the characters get short shrift, especially Sadie. Presumably later books will slowly flesh them out; likely this flaw is also why the characters start out as rather unlikeable. Daniel Boultwood's interior art is serviceable, complementing the manic drama and darkly slapstick story rendered in Taylor's crisp but uneven prose. Reviewer: Lisa Martincik
Children's Literature - Michael Jung
Dubbed to be a series of "illustronovellas" that merge elements of graphic novels, chapter books, and picture books, G.P. Taylor's The Doppleganger Chronicles pulls readers into a fantastic world of secret conspiracies and daring escapes. For identical twins Saskia and Sadie Dopple, each day at Isambard Dunstan's School for Wayward Children brings new opportunities to torment their headmistress Miss Rimmer. But when Saskia is adopted by the mysterious Muzz Elliot, Sadie finds herself alone against Miss Rimmer's sadistic enforcer Mr. Martinet. With the help of former thief Erik Morrissey Ganger, a desperate Sadie escapes and heads for Muzz Elliot's mansion. Meanwhile, Saskia uncovers a plot to murder her new guardian and meets an enigmatic friend who might be an angel. As Sadie and Erik try to lose Mr. Martinet, who is in hot pursuit of them with his giant bloodhound, Saskia must outwit a gang of would-be killers, leading to a climax involving hidden treasure, bold rescues, and a very unusual donkey. While the plot has plenty of funny and exciting moments, the real star is the book's design. Readers begin by reading a prose novel but find the book shifts into a graphic novel format every few pages. Some pages are built like picture book spreads with black-and-white illustrations, digital photos, and lines of oversized text that become their own type of artwork. Designed for today's visually-oriented audiences, this series can keep the interest of even the most reluctant readers. Reviewer: Michael Jung
School Library Journal

Gr 4-7

Part fiction, part graphic novel, and part picture book, The Escape is a tale of Saskia and Sadie Dopple, twin orphans, forcibly separated by an eccentric cast of characters; and ex-burglar Erik Ganger, who aids them in reuniting. Set in Britain in the early 20th century, the story has a gothic feel, if a slightly absurd one, reminiscent of Lemony Snicket's "Series of Unfortunate Events" (HarperCollins). Saskia is adopted by wealthy writer Muzz Elliott, whose grandfather lost quite a bit of gold at her estate. When criminals seek to dupe Elliott and replace her, both Elliott and Saskia are in mortal peril. Meanwhile, Sadie and Erik escape from the orphanage, only to fall into the clutches of an insane retired magician. The prose flows somewhat awkwardly into paneled storytelling and back out again, and while the style is innovative, the pacing doesn't work consistently in the two formats. Additionally, bits of religious philosophy seem tacked on rather than integral to the story. While fans of Snicket or Roald Dahl may enjoy the absurd tale, and the narrative's mix of prose, panels, and pictures is intriguing, the story itself falls short.-Alana Abbott, James Blackstone Memorial Library, Branford, CT

Product Details

Tyndale House Publishers
Publication date:
Dopple Ganger Chronicles Series , #1
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
10 - 13 Years

Read an Excerpt

By G. P. Taylor
Copyright © 2008 G. P. Taylor
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4143-1947-6

Chapter One IN THE DINING ROOM of Isambard Dunstan's School for Wayward Children, all was not well. Shards of lightning blasted from a black morning sky and burst upon the heath outside. Rain beat and battered against the leaded windows that reached upward in vast stone arches. Staring down upon a sheltered gathering of children was the pointed face of Isambard Dunstan himself. The noted explorer's likeness had been captured in stained glass for two hundred years, a look of dread upon his face and a scowl upon his lips. He had left the house to be a home for children abandoned by their parents, but no one who had the misfortune to live there was sure whether his action was a blessing or a curse.

A large wooden door swung open and a fat cook barged through.

In her stubby fingers she carried a massive pot of brown gruel that steamed and gurgled like the rumblings of a cow's belly. She glanced up at the image of Isambard Dunstan, who scowled at her as she began ladling the food from the dirty tureen into 166 bowls.

Every eye gazed hungrily. Sniveling noses sniffed each bowl as it was passed from one hand to the next. Fingers dipped quickly into the gruel and then popped into mouths as each child waited to begin breakfast.

"No one eats!" screamed the cook, spitting the words from her toothless mouth. "You eat when I eat and not a momentbefore." The fierce look on her face dared anyone to take one morsel without her permission. If there was one thing Mrs. Omeron hated more than children, it was children who ate before she did.

On the far side of the room, nearest to the fire, were two girls. Each was a mirror image of the other. Each stared about the room as she waited to eat. Around them, row upon row of neatly dressed girls sat silently in starched collars, gray jackets, and tall boots. The twins fidgeted, unable to keep still even for a moment. They moved in concert like two puppets connected by invisible strands.


Known to everyone who worked at Isambard Dunstan's School for Wayward Children as them, they were known to each other as Sadie and Saskia Dopple. Each was the likeness of the other in almost every way. They had identical ears, identical noses, identical lips, and even identical moles upon their chins. The only thing that set them apart was that Sadie had a yellow right eye and a blue left and Saskia a blue right eye and a yellow left. Apart from their eyes, the only difference between them was that Sadie thought before she acted or spoke. She was the quieter of the two-and in many ways the most dangerous. Together, they were like two wild cats that had taken human form, sent by an avenging angel to wreak havoc on humanity.

The children had been sitting at the table since six-thirty. Seven o'clock had come and gone, and still they waited. The porridge they were fed every morning had chilled to a congealed mush. In desperation, Sadie nudged Saskia and scoffed under her breath, "Old wart face, who does she think she is?"

"I think I'm the cook!" shouted Mrs. Omeron, whose ancient ears had become attuned to the sarcastic mutterings of children. With that, she picked up a spoon from the table and threw it at Sadie, hitting her upon the head with it before she could say another word.

Sadie looked stunned but quickly recovered. As she turned to look in the cook's direction, another smug face caught her eye. There, smiling at Sadie from across the table, sat the loathsome Charlotte Grimdyke.

"Something wrong?" Grimdyke asked with the lopsided grin of a baboon. "Get hit by a spoon?"

"You'll pay for that ..." Sadie said through her teeth, staring first at Grimdyke and then at the cook.

"Whatever," Grimdyke muttered again, holding the palm of her hand toward Sadie as if to stop her from speaking.

"Speak to the hand, MissDopple, speak to the hand."

Sadie knew this was not the time or place to bring about her vengeance. But when the moment came, she would bring torment to Grimdyke's life. In the meantime, there was no harm in having a little fun. Quietly and carefully Sadie put a hand on the bowl before her and set her spoon to the side as she gazed innocently at the ceiling of the refectory. Hanging from the thick oak beams was the swinging pendant of the only electric light in the whole room. It dangled like a gallows as it swayed from side to side, casting cold shadows across an even colder room.

All eyes were turned toward the large mahogany clock that clucked and crowed as it ticked the seconds. The children waited eagerly as the long hand swung slowly toward the half of the hour. No one spoke; no one moved. Every hand was poised, clutching a long spoon. Above their heads, the clock began to whir. Suddenly, there was the tightening of a spring and then the first strike of the hammer. But before the clock could chime again, the silence of the room had gone.

In one quick motion, Sadie scooped a large dollop of sticky brown porridge with her hand and plastered it on her forehead.

The door of the refectory crashed open to reveal the headmistress, Miss Rimmer, scowling and grunting under her breath like a raging bull. She was dressed in thick tweed, and a tight bun clung to the back of her head like a large wart.

Miss Rimmer had been the merciless ruler of Isambard Dunstan's School for Wayward Children since the previous headmistress, Olivia Dart-Winston, had disappeared a year before. Miss Olivia, as she was called, had simply vanished without warning or explanation, and Miss Rimmer had been quick to take over, turning the once-pleasant home into a place where discontent and rebellion reigned.

Now Miss Rimmer stood in the doorway shaking with anger. By her side grunted her only friend-Darcy, a short, fat dog that looked like a stunted pig covered with fur and drooling through a set of sharp and very serrated teeth.

"Who is responsible for all this mayhem?" demanded Miss Rimmer as she charged into the room, brandishing her cane.

Darcy lay sprawled upon the polished floor. Miss Rimmer, seeing that her precious pet was dazed and drooling, dropped Saskia to the ground and turned her attention to the animal.

"Darcy, darling, what has happened to you?" she asked in a voice that made the Dopple sisters want to be sick. "Is my Darcy hurt?"

"It was ... Sa ... Sa ... Sa ..." began Grimdyke, but she was mysteriously struck dumb as a hard-boiled egg bounced off the back of her head. Rimmer spun on the soles of her thick leather boots and looked at Grimdyke, who held her head and spluttered into tears.

Like a hungry lion, Rimmer eyed the room, searching every face for a sign of weakness and some clue as to the culprit.

"Don't think I don't know who would do such a thing," she bawled as she looked at Sadie. "Some people here have forgotten what it is like to be grateful. Think, my dear, frail children. Where would you be without Isambard Dunstan's? On the street in a cardboard box, living under the arches of Charing Cross? Picking through the trash bins in St James's Park? Think of it, children. Without me that would be your life.

"None of you deserve to be here-none of you." Rimmer paused as she lifted her disoriented pet from the floor and looked into the dog's dazed eyes. "Some of you ... some of you have outstayed your welcome, and if I could rid myself of you I would. Wait until the day you are sixteen and I see you slide down the banister and into the street for the last time.

"Then-then-will you rue the day you treated me and this poor, unfortunate animal so badly."

Miss Rimmer sniffed and held out Darcy for all to see as she nodded her head like a great actor at the end of some fine speech.

Charlotte Grimdyke began to quietly applaud, cooing like a pigeon. Miss Rimmer gave her an approving smile. Behind her, Saskia folded her arms, raised a thin black eyebrow, and rolled her eyes.

"Don't think I have finished with you," Rimmer said as she spun again, almost casting Darcy across the room and only just managing to hold on to her by the tail. "I will see both you and your troublesome sister in my office at eight o'clock. Be not a minute late-or else!"

Saskia looked at the floor and swallowed the laughter in her throat like a gulping frog. Tears began to slowly roll across her white cheeks, and her lips began to quiver as she fought to keep the laughter in. Thinking Saskia was about to cry, Miss Rimmer threw her a look of disgust as she rushed from the room, muttering under her breath.


Excerpted from THE DOPPLE GANGER CHRONICLES by G. P. Taylor Copyright © 2008by G. P. Taylor.Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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The First Escape (Dopple Ganger Chronicles Series #1) 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 45 reviews.
Virginia76 More than 1 year ago
Twins Sadie and Saskia live at Isambard Dunstan's School for Wayward Children, along with their friend Erik. The twins cause trouble until one is adopted. The other twin and Erik miss her and escape to find her. I thought the storyline was dark. Most of the adults are pictured as evil and the children are troublemakers. There is a murder plot as well that the children must solve. I would not want my daughter to read this book due to the storyline and the absence of God in the story. I did not enjoy the half novel/ half comic strip format either though the drawings were good.
kristen4mk More than 1 year ago
I was really interested in this concept - and I'll be frank, it took some getting used to - but now I have to say I like it. I think it mixes things up a bit and will definitely catch the interest of those who may not describe themselves as "big readers". Isambard Dunstan's School for Wayward Children is the setting for this first book in the Dopple Ganger Chronicles. Identical twin sisters Sadie and Saskia Dopple were left at the school by their mother (an actress), and as of yet she hasn't returned for them. They tend to get into a bit of trouble and gain too much notice from the headmistress. One day, a well to do author (who appears to be a sponsor of sorts to the school) 'adopts' Saskia - but not Sadie. They have never been separated before and are definitely not ok with this turn of events. Sadie and their friend Erik Morrissey Ganger escape the school to find Saskia, but not before stirring up enough trouble to chase them to the mansion that Saskia is now living. While there, they discover a horrible plot and can't decide who is telling the truth - and it may just cost them their lives. Compared to C.S. Lewis and Harry Potter and set in the UK, at first read this novel seemed pretty dark to me. However, I am starting on book 3 now and I've since changed my mind. I can recommend this book & series to a pre-teen or teen who can handle some on-the-tense-side scenes, or an adult who wants to try something new! I do think it requires (especially for younger or more impressionable readers) some adult-who-has-read-it-too discussion. Check it out, you might like it!
LovenGod More than 1 year ago
I should note this is a review for a book from years ago, when I researched the site where I received this book, I noted that my review had never been posted, so I am re-doing this review. This was a hard book for me to get into, first I didn't receive my physical copy of the book, then I had to read it online, so it was not my favorite way of reading a book. I am old-school enough that holding the book in my hand is part of the thrill of the story. Secondly, this book is dark. Darker than I would have let my children read when they were the target age group for the book. I also was not overly fond of the styling of the book. Over-all, I give the book a 3.5 star rating. This book was provided for review purposes from the publisher, (the e-copy) No payment was received for this review.
BeachNana8 More than 1 year ago
This story of twin girl orphans is probably the most interesting mystery I’ve ever read because it combines regular prose with pages of comic book type cartoons that continue the story. Plus, the story itself is fascinating. A lady comes to an orphanage and wants to adopt one girl but not her twin. With Muzz Elliot saying its one or none, the adopted girl Saskia is taken in a Jaguar with a driver who appeared to dislike all people and animals that might get in his path. Although a jaguar and driver might indicate wealth, the pushing, the coldness of the lady who wouldn’t even smile at her but called her an idle, lazy, vicious brat left her feeling miserable. And poor Sadie was pushed inside a high tower room without food and water to make her miserable since she had made Mr. Martinet miserable in the past. Neither of the twins was happy. What would happen? Would they find a way to get back together?
KMarkovich More than 1 year ago
Riveting novel! I loved how it interspersed writing with graphic novel pages. Quick moving, exciting adventure for twins Sadie and Sasha Dopple and fellow orphan Eric. I can’t wait to read the next book!
EmilyAnneK17 More than 1 year ago
The First Escape is the story of the mischievous twins Saskia and Sadie Dopple and their friend Eric Morrisey Ganger. The twins live at the orphanage-school under the horrible headmaster. But their life is torn apart when Saskia is adopted by a famous author, Muzz Elliott, while Sadie is left at the orphanage. How far is Sadie willing to go to be with her sister? And what secrets do Muzz Elliott and her strange old house hold? The book is written in a strange mix of script and graphic novel that brings it to life effectively and adds to the novel in a way that neither script nor comics can do separately. The script focuses on description, highlighting aspects of objects and scenes that a photo, showing everything cannot. The graphic portion of the book shows cut and mysterious characters. It can show what a character is doing while talking without breaking away from the dialogue while eliminating the need for dialogue tags. I love all the drawings and have never read a book quite like it! Also, the story was intriguing and unpredictable, full of danger, adventure, and mystery. The characters where unique and interesting. Some things I would comment on include the three teens’ behavior. They disobey authority, play mean practical jokes, lied, and steal. Some of the behavior was under threat of death, but not all of it. Also, the adults, except two, were mean, crazy, weird, or just plain evil. Is that what we want our children to think of s from reading the examples in this book? For another thing, there is a séance and other creepy or haunted things in this book. All of these things are explained as optical illusions, megaphones, and wires—magic tricks. One woman teaches one of the twins a little about the Creator, who she calls the Companion. This woman eventually vanishes before their sight and they think she is an angel. In all, the book is a fun, mysterious adventure that I think every kid will enjoy…if they can get past he the bad examples
amybooksy More than 1 year ago
The First Escape is great for older kids. I loved the graphics and illustrations. I think the older kids, mainly the boys, would enjoy this book. The interesting story with the graphics make a good combination. I did have a hard time keeping up at times but I did enjoy it. I will be looking to see if the library has the rest of the series to see what else happens. 4 stars.
teenbooksjc More than 1 year ago
I like to be up to date on what teens are reading nowadays, especially when you work with them. Not sure what to think about The Doppleganger Chronicles: The First Escape but intrigued nonetheless by the plot and a huge fan of anything British, I decided to check it out. At first I was annoyed by the alternating text and graphics, but then I started getting into it. I realized I actually liked it a bit and could see how kids who don't like to read long pieces of texts without pictures would actually enjoy it! Saskia and Sadie are identical in every way, except for their eyes, one has a blue left eye and a right yellow eye, and the other has a blue right eyes and a left yellow eye. They were left by their mother, an actress, at Isambard Dunstan's School for Wayward Children, which seems to only have girls with the exception of Erik, who was abandoned on the front steps when his father left to get something and never returned. The School is actually quite a terrible place, but the twins rule the school. When a wealthy reclusive writer wants only Saskia, Sadie and Saskia are separated. Saskia stumbles into a conspiracy and Sadie and Erik are trying to find her and help. Saskia also meets a mysterious woman who gives her advice and teaches her to eat peas with a fork, who she believes is an angel and who tries to guide her to the Companion (one can only assume she means Christ, although this is never explictily said, nor even really implied other than a few vague descriptions). It is a fine book, well-crafted. The design, pages of text and then pages of a graphic novel, are fantastic and give the book a creative feel. Definitely worth reading!
cherryblossommj More than 1 year ago
When I first saw this book in a local Christian bookstore, I thought neat, what a cool cover, and then noticed the spine was such a bright orange. That is not something you normally see… Then I started flipping through it. The book is half novel and half graphic novel. It is amazing! This would be the absolute perfect tool from that child that you know who refuses to read but it drowning gleefully in the new craze of manga and comics.
thedeena63 More than 1 year ago
This book was not my style of reading material, but I'm not the target audience. Still, I can see how this unique novel would have appeal to reluctant readers, fans of comics and manga and lovers of fantasy fiction. The book is categorized as illustra-novella, a fancy term for a story told through word, picture and cartoon/comic illustrations. The artwork is crisp and edgy, and the story has a rapid pacing that keeps the readers attention. Practically every page is a unique experience, which will delight young readers. My son loved reading "The First Escape" and is looking forward to the other novels in "The Doppleganger Chronicles" series. My thanks to my friends at Tyndale Publishing for my free copy in exchange for an honest review. Check this one out, moms and dads. You might be pleasantly surprised.
SophiesMindset More than 1 year ago
Cool concept - story concerning The Dopple Ganger Chronicles is (currently) a three book series following the troublemaking Dopple twins and their friend Erik on happenstance adventures. I chose these books to read as a part of the Tyndale Summer Reading Program because I was intrigued by the style of the books. These books are intended to help the reluctant reader learn to enjoy reading. I thought it was a great idea - part graphic novel, part regular novel...but how was the content? Book 1: The First Escape I was less than impressed with this book. While I loved the concept of the book layout, I did not like the fact that the Dopples were troublemakers who bullied their fellow orphans, and the only punishment they ever received was extreme, unjust, and from cruel headmistress. Shouldn't we be teaching children how they ought to behave instead of giving them examples of bad behavior never handled appropriately? Where were the Christian values (after all, Tyndale is a Christian publishing company)? It was also a strange book with a seance and creepy talking puppets. Thankfully, the hoax of it all is explained in the book, but it is not something I would want my young child to read. There is the unexplained very strange Madame Raphael (for whom more explanation is given in later books, but some things are just odd). Also, the "mystery" wasn't what I expected. The book tells a story, but there's not much wondering whodunnit, or whosegonnadoit. Given the mixed style of the narrative, the book is much thinner than it appears (meaning the 200 some pages goes by fast). Overall, this is my least favorite of the DG Chronicles thus far. Book 2: The Secret of Indigo Moon My concerns about the twin's character, lack of showing what a family ought to be, and unfit punishment all remain for this second installment of the Dopple Ganger Chronicles. There is more of a mystery feel to this book, but the storyline is not complicated. NOTE: I do not expect a complex story line for these books, I recognize they are aimed at reluctant readers. They are, however, marketed for youth/young adult, and I feel the story line level is more suited to children in elementary school. Of course, older children could also enjoy these books - especially if they are not used to reading in the first place. Madame Raphael continues to raise questions (it's stated in this book that she is probably an angel) - and while she talks of The Companion, the kids don't know The Companion, and pray to her in times of trouble. Even though Madame Raphael tells them to pray to The Companion, I think children are more likely to follow the characters lead, which is to pray to the angel (concerning). Book 3: The Great Mogul Diamond This book is my favorite thus far in the Chronicles. 1. Because most of my concerns from the previous two books are not present 2. Because we actually start learning more about The Companion and 3. There are ethical/moral questions raised that I think are good for youth to think about (like - is stealing ok to save someones life?) Because of what G.P. Taylor did in this book, I'm reserving judgement for the series, but I am still extremely hesitant to say I recommend any of the books. I understand that he's probably trying to reach a broader-than-Christian audience and so slowly introducing Christian ideas into the series is likely to be more effective than jumping in midstream. If future books show continued character development and if they accurately incorporate Christian theology then I think this has the potential to be groundbreaking - and not just in terms of the illustronovella, which already is innovative and groundbreaking. So I have mixed feelings about the Chronicles. My initial reaction to the first two books is tempered by the improved third book. One thing I would recommend for certain: read them in order. Otherwise, you're very likely to be lost.
thecraftyhome1 More than 1 year ago
The Doppleganger Chronicles are a series of books by best selling author G.P. Taylor. They are children's graphic novels and are fabulous. This was my first fore-ray into graphic novels and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The First Escape is the first in the series. Sadie and Sasika Dopple are twin orphans at the Home for Wayward Children. There antics are constantly getting them into trouble, but one day a wealthy old woman comes to adopt a child but only wants and picks Sasika. Sasika runs into quite the mystery at her new home and Sadie has many adventures while trying to find her sister. This is a great children's mystery/adventure book and a great way to get reluctant readers to read. I highly recommend this book.
Nicnac63 More than 1 year ago
This series is very unique. The mix of storybook and graphic novel engages young readers and makes it a fast-paced, and distinctive read. The story begins in a rather dark (dreary) place at the Isambard Dustan’s School for Wayward Children. Explorer Dustan left the building to house children who are unwanted and abandoned by their parents. The school’s cook is cruel and resentful of the children, which makes for a captivating opening scene. Twins, Sadie and Saskia Dopple, or THEM, as the other children call them, each have opposing yellow eyes, and wreak havoc on the place. The main trouble ensues when only one of the twins is adopted. I’m somewhat surprised that The First Escape, (Dopple Ganger Chronicles Series #1) is a Tyndale book, seeing as they are known for their Christian based books with positive messages. This book does carry a message, but not in the way I expected. That’s not to say that young readers won’t be enthralled by the storyline and comicbook-like artistry. The characters are absorbing and it’s easy to become immersed in their plight.  All around, this is an interesting read. I recommend parents read it first, to insure their young readers are equipped for the shadier side of fiction.
J4Life5 More than 1 year ago
I chose this book to read as part of the Tyndale Summer Reading program. It was a very quick read and the illustrations made it go even faster. I saw immediately how the pictures and different fonts would appeal to kids. Graphic novels hold great appeal for children and tweens and I've read several along with my children. I was a little surprised that the storyline was so dark, especially for a book published by Tyndale. The characters were interesting, and I appreciated the idea of Sadie going off to look for Saskia, but adults were not held in high esteem or a positive role models. The illustrations made me think of vampires or gothic characters which are popular characters for books. Kids love these kind of scary books that are reminiscent of R.L. Stine's Goosebumps. I am not sure if maybe I missed the message, but it would have been nice to have more than just you are never alone or family is important. I can't help but compare this book with the T.J. and the Time Stumbler series also published by Tyndale that has a much brighter message. I would recommend that series over this one. Overall, although this wasn't my favorite book, I can see the appeal it would have for the target audience and I think kids would love it. I hope the second and third books have a clearer message and a more positive feel.
iblog4books More than 1 year ago
Time for a confession. I had no idea what an "illustro-novel" was until I read this book. Oh, you don't either? Well, it's part book, part graphic novel. I gave it a shot because it was unique, and I'm trying to branch out this year. I'm so glad I did! This was a great story, and I was completely caught up in the book within a few pages. Eric and the Dopple sisters were a force to be reckoned with, and I enjoyed their antics. While the style of the novel was vastly different than anything I've read before, the story itself was reminiscent of the old mystery books that I loved when I was younger—Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, the Boxcar Children. Good, solid mystery without being too over the top. I loved that Christian elements were gently introduced and am interested to see how this plays out in the rest of the series. This is a great series for resistant readers. The books are action-packed so the plot moves along pretty quickly, which is key for hooking those non-readers! Parts of the stories are a bit "dark and twisty" but I think that upper elementary and middle school students will thoroughly enjoy them. Good grief, I'm way past that age and I LOVED them! This is a solid 5-star book, and I'm happy to recommend it! (5 stars)
pinkgirlLS More than 1 year ago
I thought the mix of story and cartoons in The First Escape was interesting, even though it did make it a bit harder to read. I read the first half of the book to my three young girls (3-7 yrs.). However, it kept on getting darker and then it started to hint about ghosts. I stopped reading it to them and finished it myself. The story is well-written, but has some serious themes like murder, a séance, magic, etc. And I had a hard time liking the twins, who are the main characters, because they are so disobedient. I want to read books to my young girls that have heroines they can aspire to. This is a story for older kids.
AnotherBibliophile More than 1 year ago
Fun, but I felt that it was somewhat dark for a kids’ book, and the characters were strange. There were crimes, intrigue, and death threats toward kids, but if you are OK with that, it was quite interesting. I was surprised to find comic strips among the text pages. The artwork was quirky. I read the hardcover version, borrowed from the library. It was better than I expected but I would not recommend it to my grandchildren. The adventures were hair-raising, with adults who are far from role models. I didn’t know what to make of the vaguely supernatural references toward the end, but they were done well, to lead into the next book.
lmbartelt More than 1 year ago
Great start to a great series This is the sort of book I might not have read until much later, like when my kids are older and want to read young adult fantasy/adventure books, but I'm so glad I picked it up as part of Tyndale's Summer Reading Program. The first of the Dopple Ganger Chronicles, The First Escape is part book, part graphic novel. Great illustrations, including some words emphasized for effect in illustrative form. I loved it. Author G.P. Taylor's reviews call him "hotter than Potter" and "the next C.S. Lewis." Seems like he has big shoes to fill. I've yet to read any Harry Potter books (chastise me -- they're on my neverending to-read list) so I can't vouch for that, and it's hard for me to put anyone in the same tier as C.S. Lewis when it comes to fantasy/adventure/children's fables. However, I would hand these books to middle-grade kids without reservation. There are two more books in the series and I can't wait to dig in. If there's a downside, it's that the illustrations sometimes made it hard for me to understand what had happened. But I think that's more because I'm not used to reading graphic novels. A great start to what I hope is a great series!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TheStephanieLoves More than 1 year ago
Complimentary copy provided Tyndale Blog Network in exchange for an honest review Graphic novels have been viewed with skepticism by literary critics, but I personally think they're amazing vessels for storytelling, especially for the sake of reluctant readers. I, as a kid, loved reading, but I know I was a part of the minority; many kids, especially today with so much 'vital' technology, are disinclined to read because they find it boring or they get restless. Fortunately, The First Escape may help invigorate such book cynics. Set in a rather gloomy gothic setting, presumably Victorian-era Britain, The First Escape intertwines each Dopple twin's adventures after being, for the first time, parted from her lifelong fraternal counterpart. As sisters, they pretty much share the same heart, the same brain, so it's terrifying for both of them, to have to be separated. This motivates Sadie to escape the dreadful Isambard Dunstan's School for Wayward Children in order to find Saskia, and Saskia to escape her new home, as much as she is glad to have been adopted. The First Escape tells an adventurous and vibrant, yet at the same time, hair-raising and chilling story through beautiful and child-appropriate illustrations. This is definitely a children's novel in both content in style, but I would save it for the more mature readers, because there is some daunting material, stuff that easily frightened children may freak out over, or find very disturbing. Just because it's a graphic novel, doesn't mean it's a picture book, or just for young kids; I would recommend it for children ages 8 to 12. Taylor's writing is so-so, nothing spectacular, but his treading plot is full of twists and turns with a heart-pumping, completely satisfying ending, that ensures the reader that the story isn't over quite yet. I hope I do get the opportunity to read the next installment of this titillating series. I absolutely love the structure of the book. It's not just in comic strip form; the pages consist of comic panels, yes, but also straight pages of prose (as you'd see in a regular novel), as well as artistic depictions of words splayed out across pages, in swirls and shapes of all kinds, surrounding illustrations... simply beautiful. I was definitely impressed by the innovative stylistic choices of the combination of pictures and words. The First Escape is composed of two different exploits and adventures — Sadie's story, and Saskia's — but they parallel (as well as juxtapose) one another nicely, and come together eventually to illuminate this Gothic revival-era children's story. It reads like a folk tale almost, with prevailing morals, and a Christian undertone (note: Tyndale is a Christian publisher and this book does have Christian connotation about belief in a higher power, blah blah, but I wouldn't say it is an overwhelming theme. God is never directly mentioned, so I think it's mostly up to the reader and the way he or she will interpret this message. I personally just considered the 'higher being' to be a potential version of one's own soul, although I knew it was implicating God. To each one's own). I think middle grade readers, especially those who don't like to read in the first place, will be intrigued by Taylor's exciting, eerie, and paranormal story and amazed by the earthy, but still penetrating illustrations that enrich it.
Louisa_May More than 1 year ago
I was very interested in this book b/c of it's unique IllustraNovel format and because, honestly, I usually think very highly of Tyndale. I was surprised to be immediately struck by how disturbing and actually evil-looking the pictures are! I couldn't believe that Saskia and Sadie Dopple were the main characters in the book. They were terribly creepy and not at all likeable. All three kids, including the Ganger kid, are rebellious, messed-up trouble-makers. They dabble in seances and deal with murder. No "sinner" in the book seems to have any redemptive qualities in the end, and there seem to be no real consequences to their rebellion. The story is dark and it's supposed to be kids Christian fiction! I was shocked to read that the author has won awards and is a minister. With such a platform, he could surely be putting his talents and godly-wisdom to use with books that will change children's lives for the better instead of possibly damaging their impressionable hearts. I'm not some kind of mom who thinks my children should never be exposed to worldly things, but I do not think rebellion, darkness, and occultism should be condoned. This book doesn't just condone these things. It seems to encourage them. I'm very disappointed in Tyndale for continuing to publish and market this series.
Thursday4 More than 1 year ago
Sadie and Saskia are rebellious, flippant teenage girls left in a dysfunctional and abusive orphanage by their actress mother. Together, using verbal and physical violence, they rule the roost over all the other orphans until the day they are split up by a wealthy woman who only wants one child. The plot follows the journey Sadie and Saskia take to reunite, aided by the solitary boy at the orphanage Erik who is the son of a thief. Let me be clear: This is not a Christian book. There is no reference to Christ, to Christianity, to Faith, to the Bible, to Christian behavior, to witnessing, or even to God. However a significant portion of the plot is spent describing magic and seances, along with the appearance of a "spiritual guide". Occult and New Age beliefs permeate this text. The Bible is very clear that Christians should have nothing to do with witchcraft and the occult. The plot is depressing and disturbing. In fact, approximately the last third of the book dealt with nothing but the repeated attempted murder of the three main characters Sadie, Saskia and Erik by different, equally disturbing means. Aside from the murder and spirituality, the story also depicted disrespect for authority, cruelty to animals, destructive behavior, theft, drugging people, lying, and abusive punishments by adults. The story did not exactly promote these things as good behavior, but there was nothing to seriously condemn it either. None of the evil characters ever received their comeuppance, and none of the 'good' characters who did bad things received anything other than a positive reward. The conflicted morality of this alone will be muddle the waters for younger readers The novel switches between graphic novel style pages, traditional print pages, and pages with more illustrations/images than text. The highly stylized font, pages, images, cover, are very dark and brought to mind Halloween decorations. I found switching between images and text distracting to say the least. At one point the formatting requires you to either read upside down or turn the book upside down. Every time I felt I had found the rhythm of the book, I found myself switching to a new format. The constant refocusing required to follow the storyline added confusion to an already chaotic and dark plot. How this book comes to be written by an Anglican pastor and published by Tyndale I have no idea. It is not a bridge book designed to reach out to non-Christians for the simple reasons that the supposed moral "Family is important" is poorly and inadequately portrayed throughout the book, and Christ, Christian behavior, and Christian love are not represented by or in this story. My best guess is that this book is aimed at non-Christians who are non-readers or read primarily read graphic novels. I would not recommend this book or this series to anyone, and I sincerely regret introducing this author's work to my family under the guise of Christian literature.
GHott More than 1 year ago
I started this one evening with the kids and barely managed to get them in bed two hours late... Then, well, I finished it because I couldn't wait. It was the perfect mix of print and graphic novel to keep me, my two boys, and my daughter enthralled.
BookLover321 More than 1 year ago
So I don't normally go around reading children's books, but I have to admit that in this case I am very glad that I did. In The First Escape, which just so happens to be the first book in G.P. Taylor's The Dopple Ganger Chronicles series, the author introduces you to Sadie and Saskia Dopple. The Dopple sisters are practically identical twins, except for the fact that Sadie has a yellow right eye and a blue left eye, and Saskia has a blue right eye and a yellow left eye. Not only that, but the girls are completely inseparable and can practically read each others minds; which is kind of a dangerous combination when you are dealing with two mischievous teenage girls. That is, two mischievous teenage girls who live at Isambard Dunstan's School for Wayward Children. Now, for those of you who are not in the know-how, Isambard Dunstan's is a school filled with many many girls and one boy, who goes by the name of Erik Morrissey Ganger, all of whom have been abandoned by their parents. The school is an awful, dismal place, and of course, to pass the time, the Dopple Sisters are constantly causing mischief, which doesn't exactly endear them to the staff, or their fellow occupants. Then one day Muzz Elliott shows up and decides to adopt Saskia, leaving Sadie behind at the mercy of the hateful staff, who lock her up in the tower room and formulate an evil plan to send her away forever to prison. With the help of Erik, she escapes and together the two of them race to find Sadie, who is also in a world of trouble after discovering a wicked plot to murder Muzz Elliott. This is an incredibly fun book for tween and teen readers that will keep them engaged and will leave them wanting more. Not only that, but the book is an illustra-novella, which means that it has a great mixture of comics, illustrations and pages with plain text. This was my first time reading a book like this, and I have to say that I found it quite fun and enjoyable! Needless to say, this was a wonderful book and I highly recommend it.
hannah97 More than 1 year ago
The First Escape, the first book in The Dopple Ganger Chronicles was great. I loved how the book changed from graphic novel to regular novel. It is an epic read!