Title: The Twinning Project
Author: Robert Lipsyte
Tom and Eddie are twins separated by 50 years and different planets. Tom’s life in 2011 is one of getting kicked out of multiple middle schools for being difficult. He plays the violin well and loves neat little techie gadgets—especially if they explode. Eddie is his complete opposite: a sports player, friendly to a fault, focused on teamwork. But when an alien plot threatens them both, they’ll have to learn to live in each other’s worlds.
I liked this, but the plot could at times be a bit of a mess. Tom amused me. He’s got a way of saying things that sets people off, refuses to follow stupid orders, and has a well-earned reputation as a troublemaker. His stockpile of little gadgets in particular was excellent (although I was confused by the invisibility cloak—this IS 2011 and not some future time, and as far as I know that’s still future tech, which Tom appears to have ordered online and not built himself). Eddie I can respect, although his willingness to believe the best of people lets others take advantage of him.
I was confused at why they had to switch places, though. Tom’s got no purpose in the past. Eddie’s stunt with the no-tech day in the future felt way overblown. Putting him on TV? Seriously? And what, exactly, are they supposed to be rebels against? It feels like the real villain is set up to be global warming, poverty, and hunger (although I do not argue against the last two, I roll my eyes that global warming is ranked as a crisis. But thankfully it’s just mentioned in passing and not a major plot driver). Why the aliens are so keen on getting the person they’re after is brushed off as “He’s a rebel.” It would’ve been really nice to get at least a hint at what he actually did, other than disagreeing about the plan to destroy the Earths (because he never says the government is totalitarian enough to make disagreement a crime).
The more interesting things about the actual aliens creating planets and so forth doesn’t get fleshed out at all. Presumably this will be handled in sequels, although I don’t expect them to explain why both Earths are identical except for the fifty-year gap. The hint at greater powers to come is nice, too.
All and all this is a fun and very quick read, if you don’t mind some sloppiness around the edges. I rate this book Neutral.