Clones, twins and secret identities: It's the Top 10 doubles by The Lost Girl author Sangu Mandanna

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I’ve always loved the concept of duality. Of doubles and replacements. Twins fascinate me, I think clones are really cool, and the conflict between dark/light personalities (especially personalities in the same body!) is so much fun to watch or read about. So I suppose it’s not entirely surprising that when I wrote The Lost Girl, the story entwined with that conflict between two opposing sides of the same coin.

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Top 10 double by The Lost Girl author Sangu Mandanna

Eva is an echo. That kind of makes her Amarra’s clone. It also makes her Amarra’s replacement. On the surface, Amarra is the good side of the coin. She’s sweet, sensible, human, a girl who’s life is being copied halfway across the world. Eva, on the other hand, is the monster. She was stitched together, made under the cover of darkness at the Weavers’ Loom. But this is her story. I got to write about what it was like to be the strange, eerie, frightening thing. What it was like to be the unnatural double. And it turns out Eva’s not such a monster after all.

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So, to show my love for the replacements, the lookalikes and the misguided, misunderstood, mis-created (eh, it totally counts as a word) monsters in fiction, here are my ten favourite doubles.

10. Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield from the Sweet Valley books created by Francine Pascal

It’s embarrassing to admit this now, but these books were a staple of my childhood. I followed unrealistically beautiful blonde twins Liz and Jess from middle school to high school to senior year to university and, finally, to the Hollyoaks-esque drama of Jessica pretending to be Elizabeth and kissing Elizabeth’s boyfriend right before she knew Elizabeth would walk in just to show her the kind of cheating scum he was.

At which point Elizabeth ran away and jumped on a plane and fled all the way to London where she proceeded to become a scullery maid at an Earl’s house… er, yeah.

9. Viola from Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare

Viola is, possibly, the earliest iconic example of a girl dressing up as a boy. And dressing up and disguising herself as her own brother Sebastian? Chaos.

Here we have almost the entire spectrum of duality, covering dual identities, twins, and replacements. (No clones or echoes, though. Hmm. Someone should write a sci-fi retelling of Twelfth Night with clones… *mind wanders off*) I really love books and stories with this hook – there’s so much potential for drama and hilarity.

8. Hallie and Annie from The Parent Trap (1998)

Another set of twins! I can watch The Parent Trap over and over. Identical twins meeting for the first time via an implausibly huge coincidence… what’s not to like?

Hallie and Annie have such distinct characters. They’re fun, they’re funny, and their ending gives me the warm fuzzies every time (once you get past the ohmyGodLindsayLohanlookssoyoungandinnocent and herBritishaccentisbloodyawful moments).

7. Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

Ah, Jekyll and Hyde. It’s the story of doubles. One man, two characters. A good man goes one step too far and become, literally, a monster by night. This one speaks for itself.

6. Lincoln from The Island (2005)

Ewan McGregor. Yummy. That is all.

Click next for Sangu's Top 5 including Stephanie Meyer, Batman and MORE >>


5. Melanie and Wanda from The Host by Stephenie Meyer

I found that The Host struck a chord with me in a way that Twilight never quite managed to do.

Meyer really created something special with this world, these characters and, most importantly, with the incredible conflict and relationship between Melanie, a surviving human, and Wanda, her alien body-snatcher.

4. Robert Angier/Alfred Borden from The Prestige (2006)

In joint fourth place, a double bill! Robert and Alfred, the rival magicians of the film (and the book the film is loosely based on), each have or are a double. And not only are they, individually, completely brilliant (and somewhat swoon-worthy), but their relationships with each other and with their respective doubles are warped, twisted and also, in Alfred’s case, kind of touching.

Confused? Go watch the film! It’s fantastic. It also messes with your mind in the best possible way.

3. Kathy from Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

There are few characters as tragic as poor Kathy. Cloned and raised solely to provide organs for ‘real’ people, she grows up in what seems to be an idyllic school with best friend Ruth and a boy she loves called Tommy, knowing they will all be harvested sooner or later.

The bleakness aside, this is a great book and Kathy is tough and sweet and, in spite of not being ‘human’, is instantly identifiable.

2. Bruce Wayne and Ra’s al Ghul from Batman Begins (2005)

Okay, this is me cheating just a wee bit. They don’t look alike, they’re not sharing a body, and one is not a copy of the other. And it may look like I’m just obsessed with Christian Bale. But. I think these characters mirror one another. They’re distorted reflections of each other.

Ra’s is kind of what Bruce would have become if Bruce had chosen vengeance over justice. And they get that about one another, which is why watching them fight is so amazing – it’s not a mindless hero/villain squabble for the sake of squabbling. It’s a battle between the bright and dark sides of the same coin.

1. Eva from The Lost Girl

I know. So cheeky. But I have a huge, huge soft spot in my heart for her.

And that’s me done rambling. If you made it to the very end of that list, thank you.

So there you have it. Do you have any favourite doubles to add?

The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandann is out on 3rd January 2013

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