Friday, 4 October 2013

Review: Two Brothers:Origin by Sofia Diana Gabel

Two Brothers: Origin, A Ramtalan TrilogyFor some kids, the first day of school is about a change of routine. For Argus and Tai, a pair of formerly homeschooled twins, the first day of school changes everything. In Two Brothers: Origin, Sofia Diana Gabel's science-fantasy novel about what it means to be human, even when you aren't, Argus and Tai face down their first encounters with the public school system, bullying, and classism. While their polite demeanor and naivety probably strike their classmates as disingenuous, and at first brush the reader as implausible, in the end, their unlikely characteristics underscore the otherness that defines their struggle to belong.

Orphaned and raised by a helicopter aunt, Argus and Tai are growing into the powers that make them different, which catches the attention of a government agency set on finding proof of extraterrestrials, and the boys find themselves the subject of investigation by an obsessive agent who is trying to use his hunch about one of the boys to salvage what is left of his broken career.

I like the premise of this story. I like that Gabel tackles the question of whether or not we are alone in this universe with a vehement no, and builds on it in the tradition of one of my favorite rainy day guilty pleasures- Ancient Aliens, suggesting that not only are we not alone in the universe, but that an alien race has been with us since the beginning. I like the way she wove the story of the Dachel brothers into the greater tapestry of human history and myth.

Though some of the powers the boys develop seem, at best, stalkerly, and a few scenes seem to be told in real time, and a lot of problems come from unusually poor decision making skills on the part of both Argus and Tai, the story moves along at a good clip, exposing some of the things that are the most blatantly wrong with schools right now.

Young readers will enjoy reading along as the Dachel twins come into their own and navigate the new world they never dreamed existed, and older readers will feel for the plight of their Aunt and the agent trying to come back from a failed marriage by achieving what no one else with a boss as obnoxious as his could hope to accomplish.

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