March 17, 2015 • Cee • Reviews


Duplicity by N.K. Traver
March 17, 2015
Thomas Dunne Books
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* Book courtesy of Thomas Dunne Books

A computer-hacking teen. The girl who wants to save him. And a rogue mirror reflection that might be the death of them both.

In private, seventeen-year-old Brandon hacks bank accounts just for the thrill of it. In public, he looks like any other tattooed bad boy with a fast car and devil-may-care attitude. He should know: he’s worked hard to maintain that façade. With inattentive parents who move constantly from city to city, he’s learned not to get tangled up in things like friends and relationships. So he’ll just keep living like a machine, all gears and wires.

Then two things shatter his carefully-built image: Emma, the kind, stubborn girl who insists on looking beneath the surface – and the small matter of a mirror reflection that starts moving by itself. Not only does Brandon’s reflection have a mind of its own, but it seems to be grooming him for something—washing the dye from his hair, yanking out his piercings, swapping his black shirts for … pastels. Then it tells him: it thinks it can live his life better, and it’s preparing to trade places.

And when it pulls Brandon through the looking-glass, not only will he need all his ill-gotten hacking skills to escape, but he’s going to have to face some hard truths about who he’s become. Otherwise he’ll be stuck in a digital hell until he’s old and gray, and no one will even know he’s gone.


I received this book for free from St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

First Sentence: “It figures that between the two of us, my laptop is the first to grow a conscience. “

Prepare to be afraid of your reflection and what you do online! ;) Oh, and don’t forget to suspend your disbelief.

Duplicity follows Brandon Eriks, a tattooed hacker extraordinaire, who’s reflection (aka Obran) begins moving on its own and starts making changes to Brandon’s outer appearance like taking out his many piercings and washing out the black dye from his hair for the “trade.” When Brandon is pulled into the other side of the mirror, he is faced with The Project, a hacker’s worse nightmare. All the while, Brandon also has to deal with parents who never have any time for him and his blossoming feelings that he chooses to deny for Emma, a girl who had tutored him prior to the start of the book. His protective image starts to fracture as he tries to save the people he cares about.

It’s a cyberthriller that has a lot of science fiction elements that will have you wondering who’s behind what happens to Brandon and how he gets out of it.

Five Things You Might Like About Duplicity

  • It’ll keep you on your toes. 

Duplicity does a great job of doing that. There are twists that will suck into the book that is beyond your imagination, and you’ll discover why the reflection moves and wants a trade. And when the trade happens, you are thrown into a Matrix-like world, and you learn more about it and how Brandon tries to undermine his captors and get back into the real world. What happens is very creepy.

  • Brandon Eriks is a hacker who’s quite of a brat. 

Brandon is your tattooed bad boy hacker extraordinaire. He’s cocky, he’s self-assured, and he’s kind of an asshole. He cares little for the people around him because of how they’ve treated him, and sometimes, the way he acts is like a kid trying to get his parent’s attention. At the end of the day, he’s just a teenager, and teenagers can be brats.

  • The existence of the Project is a fascinating evil that Brandon combats. 

Pardon the cliché, but the Project is a force to be reckon with. The Project is a lore—a running joke among the hacker community. The joke is: when a hacker scores something risky and brags about it, the Project swoops in and makes the hacker disappear. But Brandon finds that this running joke is very much real. I love reading about the Project—the inception of it, how it works, its purpose, and just about everything. It makes you wonder what the Project is capable and the lengths it will go through for their mission.

  • These characters just want somebody to care about them.

That’s pretty much what Brandon wants, and you meet another an ally, Seb, who wants that as well. All they want is for people not to let them down, which many have done time and time again. For Brandon, his parents put all their attention into their jobs and ignore him, and the only time they pay any attention to him is when they lecture him for slacking off and not being helpful. At school, he’s branded a troublemaker because of the way he looks. Brandon and Seb are really just scared kids who want people they love to show they care. (It’s no wonder Brandon falls for Emma.)

  • The romance has already been established before the book starts.

I always love it when the romance in a book has been previously established; you can usually get behind a ship like that because of the chemistry and back story. When Duplicity starts, you learn that Brandon had a fight with the girl he likes, Emma, who had tutored him and the only person who seems to care for him.

So, is the romance believable? Nope. I had a hard time believing they liked each other, even if the romance wasn’t a big focus in the book. There wasn’t any chemistry between them that blew me away. A large part of my dislike for the romance is the way Emma was written; she’s a very flat and cliché character who’s existence was to emphasize that she was the good girl to his bad boy, the light to his dark. Blergh. I cringed when they interacted because it was so awkward; it was like watching two bad actors pretending to be a couple and failing horribly.

Two Things That Might Be A Problem

  • All characters except Brandon were underdeveloped. 

I had a hard time investing in the characters because they were really underdeveloped. They were clichés that had no real purpose for being in the story. At times, I felt other characters were there to serve as foils for Brandon or Emma, which didn’t work. And I didn’t like how the female characters were treated very poorly, or had any growth even though they played a role in what’s happening.

  • The technological aspect of the world that Brandon is thrown into gets a bit confusing at times. 

A lot of stuff is thrown at you when Brandon gets into his hacking zone. You’ll just want to continue going forward full speed as the story revs up, so it’s hard to understand everything he says, but it isn’t a big problem.


Duplicity is only the beginning of this creepy technological world that Brandon finds himself in. It’s full of twists that will have you gripping the book for support, and hopefully, you’ll enjoy the fascinating world that is created. I know I’ll be looking forward to see how he brings down the Project permanently.

In the mean time, beware of the reflection staring back at you. It may be something creepy like a double trying to take over your life. ;)


One Response to “REVIEW | Five Things You Might Like + Two Things You Might Not Like About Duplicity”

  1. Krystianna says:

    This is the first I’ve hear about this book, but boy does it have a very interesting concept. I do hate it when books get confusing sometimes, because that does seem to happen a lot in sci-fi books. I’m glad that the book kept you on your toes! I love books like that because I hate guessing what’s going to happen and then end up being correct. Thanks for the review!
    Krystianna @ Downright Dystopian

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