Bad Twin

Wow…this one was something else. Bad Twin is a semi-canonical work of literature that the Lost team released in the summer after season two. The book was “written” by Gary Troup. Troup was best known as the guy who got sucked into the turbine after the plane crash within the first few minutes of the pilot episode. Troup was supposedly the guy who wrote the manuscript that Hurley found and read in season two’s The Long Con. Sawyer later read most of the manuscript before Jack threw it into the fire in Two for the Road.

After season two, the Lost powers-that-be released Bad Twin, supposedly the same manuscript that Sawyer and Hurley read on the Island. On paper, this sounds like a pretty bad idea. As written, it was only a slightly better idea.

Bad Twin is essentially a James Patterson-like detective novel. Like Patterson’s books, it was poorly written, but kept my attention by moving quickly. I expected that it would have some subtle overlaps with the themes of Lost. But the problem was that it laid it on thick.

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The book tells the story of a down-on-his-luck detective named Paul Artisan. Artisan is approached by Cliff Widmore (yes, those Widmores) to search for his missing twin brother Zander. Zander is short for Alexander; as Cliff says, Zander was born an A and chose to be a Z. Zing. Cliff is a straight-laced, business-minded guy. Shockingly, Zander is the opposite. He is a free-spirit that often gets caught up in shady business dealings, and Cliff thinks he may have gotten caught up in a deal gone bad.

Artisan takes the job after discussing it with his best friend Manny Weissmann. Conveniently, for more dense readers, Manny is an old literature professor who quotes a different book every time Paul has a problem. Many of these books appeared in or influenced Lost, like Turn of the Screw, Lord of the Flies, and The Odyssey.

Paul goes on a long journey to try to find clues to Zander’s disappearance. Many of the places he looks are islands or isolated places (get it?) like an island off Cape Cod, Key West, a retreat in California, Cuba, and finally, Australia. He also has run-ins with various Lost tie-ins. He accidentally gets off on the 42nd floor of a building that houses the Hanso Foundation, eats from Mr. Cluck’s Chicken Shack, and flies on Oceanic Airlines to Australia (where Cindy Chandler is the stewardess).

Based on the tips that he cobbled together, he seems fairly certain that Zander is on an island in the South Pacific somewhere off of the coast of Australia. On the plane, he strikes up a conversation with a woman named Prudence (Pru for short). He ends up meeting up with Pru at his hotel room where he notices that she has a gun in her purse. It turns out that Pru works for a mega-detective agency and Cliff hired her to make sure that Artisan didn’t find Zander. For some reason, Cliff doesn’t want Zander found. In fact, that was why he hired Paul – he didn’t think that Paul could actually do the job, but wanted it to only look like he was looking for Zander.

Pru is apparently a terrible detective, because she joins Paul’s side almost immediately. Now Paul’s head is spinning: which one of these Widmore cats is the bad twin? He calls Manny, who tells him that maybe Zander stands to inherit every bit of their dad’s vast fortune because he is older (their dad is a bit insane, and is hardcore into Scottish culture, including the law of primogeniture). Zander was actually born a day before his brother Cliff. Zander was born late on 8/15 and Cliff was born 23 minutes later in the early morning of 8/16. I shit you not.

Pru and Paul track down Zander in an isolated group of islands in the Pacific, are shot at by strangers in a boat, convince him to come back to NYC, and are shocked to find out that Cliff has been killed. Long story short, it was their father’s new wife, who plotted with her first husband/Mafia boss to kill them all and take control of the company. Paul finds this out, Zander takes control of Widmore Industries, and everyone is happy.

Also, big surprise: turns out Zander was not such a bad guy after all. Even though he has his fingers in some shady stuff, he’s into charities, and planned to donate a lot of money to Australian indigenous people and medical aid for poor people in Cuba. Who would have guessed!

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As I mentioned, the similarities were laid on thick. Many of the cutesy references aren’t worth mentioning, so you can click here, if you’re interested in Lostpedia’s list of the references.

Purgatory is mentioned a few times in the book, as the Lost creators continued to include subtle winks to the “they’re all dead” theory. Even the name Gary Troup is an anagram of Purgatory.

Then there’s the idea that people are not exactly what they seem. For most of the book, we assume that Zander is in fact the bad twin. Of course, this isn’t necessarily the case – there’s a lot of gray in the black and white between Cliff and Zander. We later see this same battle play out through the end of season five and all of season six between the twins Jacob and the Man in Black. Like Cliff and Zander, neither Jacob or the Man in Black is all good or all bad, all the time.

Overall, it wasn’t really that bad of a book, but there just isn’t a whole lot to break down – it’d be like trying to do a character analysis of a terrible James Patterson book. Based on my description of the book, you should be able to tell the overlap in themes between Lost and Bad Twin. I wish the author would have been a little more subtle and gotten rid of more of the Lost tie-ins, most of which felt awkwardly forced into the text. It only took about six hours to read it though, so I can’t really complain too much.

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