MSRP: $21.95
PAGES: 272

I’m not
really interested in the meta of Lost. The creators have diversified
from the serial television story to include a meta-game called The
Lost Experience
which seems to fascinate people as much, if not more,
than Microsoft’s successful ilovebees promotion for Halo
. The trouble with these alternate-reality experiences is that they
don’t bring much in the way of additional story to the table; they’re just
marketing tools. In the rare occasions that The Lost Experience adds
to the mythos of the show, it has to be in tiny, unimportant nuggets so that
the regular viewers don’t miss out on the primary story.

Bad Twin is a result of that viral
marketing scheme. It appeared in two episodes of the TV show, being read by
characters on the island. Included with my copy of the book was a little
greeting from the publisher, saying how sorry they were that this would be (fictional)
author Gary Troup’s last book, since he died tragically on Oceanic Flight 815 —
the same flight that stranded the Lost survivors on the island. The
book is so wrapped up in the mythos from the get-go (Gary Troup’s name is an
anagram for "purgatory," which relates to one of the oft-debated
theories of the show) that it doesn’t even seem to bother standing on its own
as a piece of detective fiction.

That’s a
little misguided, because the specifics of the plot of Bad Twin don’t relate to
the happenings on the Lost island, apart from involving
the Hanso Foundation and the Widmore family. The book does touch on the
meta-narrative on those points (somewhat confusingly, because the book is a
work of fiction in the show, and yet uses characters and situations present in
the reality of the show) but mostly it’s content to be an uninspiring and tepid
piece of crime fiction.

The plot
has a good hook. Private dick Artisan is hired by the wealthy Widmore family to
find and retrieve a lost son, Zander. Seems Zander didn’t get along well with
his aristocratic relations, and much preferred things like banging yoga
instructors and smuggling himself into Havana. It’s Zander’s identical twin
brother, Cliff, who contracts with Artisan, and who follows his progress
perhaps a little too closely.

It’s a
fun set-up, but the rest of the narrative doesn’t live up to the promise. The
biggest stain is that Bad Twin wears its inspirations
boldly, like a nudist with no shame. References to greater works of literature
abound, and when their plotlines are emulated, well, let’s just say it’s not
entirely successful. I’ve never understood why writers feel compelled to
include reference to their betters in their stories. It just highlights all the
places the writer’s own work falls short.

With Bad
, those places are numerous. Pacing is wretched, with the shot,
arbitrary chapters that propel ADHD readers and a rate of revelation that would
frustrate even the most patient Chandler fan. The characterizations are thin
and archetypal, and one major player isn’t even introduced until the book is
two-thirds over. The mystery itself is unsatisfying, especially at its
conclusion, which is handled in a faux-timelapse that smacks more of laziness
than drama.

occasional sex scenes seem to have been written by a virgin.

So, if
you judge Bad Twin on its own merits, divorced entirely from the Lost
universe, you get an at-times painfully bad detective novel. Personally, I
think it just wasn’t given a chance. It was never intended to succeed on its
own. Like the games that surround the show, Bad Twin is an
unsatisfying narrative, and bears all the marks of marketing where it should be
content as pure entertainment.

Judging the Book by its Cover: Beaches do not figure
prominently in the story of Bad Twin. Nudity is far more
important in the story. The use of the island motif for the cover art is in
opposition to the content of the book. "See? It’s a tie-in to Lost!"
cries the cover, while the content tries to say: "I am a unique,
individual snowflake."