Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on January 18th 2010
Cameron Miller is pretending to be someone he isn't. When he began presenting himself as Neil Lacey, it was the only way he could think of to distance himself from what Pop had done, to finally climb out of his nightmarish existence.
He thought it would be easy--playing the rich kid, sailing his boat--but he didn't count on Cougar. Now Cougar, his father's old accomplice, has tracked Cameron down and presented an ultimatum: Share the wealth or be exposed.
Will Cameron give up his new identity to protect Neil's family? Or will he let his search for a new life destroy those around him?
Counterfeit Son is a really hard book to rate and review. It is a very dark story and the subject matter is deeply disturbing. I cannot say I enjoyed reading it but I was definitely riveted. It was very short so I ended up reading it in a single sitting but given the topic at hand it worked better as it was direct and to the point with no filler at all.
This book tells the story of a 14 year old boy called Cameron Miller. Cameron is the son of a serial killer who, at the beginning of the novel, turns himself in claiming to have been one of the boys that his father abducted and killed. His father, Hank Miller, was gunned down by the police just prior to the beginning of the book and Cameron knows his only really chance is to to assume the identity of one of the 21 boys his father abused and murdered.
Cameron knows the history of these boys. Whenever his father brought a new boy home, he would lock Cameron down in the cellar of their house. Cameron spent many hours pouring over the newspaper clippings and other ‘trophies’ his father had appropriated. This is how Cameron learns about Neil Lacey and after some reflection, decides that he should ‘become’ Neil – luckily he bears a striking resemblance to the missing boy.
Neil’s parents welcome him home with open arms delighted to have their ‘son’ home, though Neil’s younger siblings are not so quick to accept him. Cameron claims to have amnesia – brought on by the traumas that were inflicted upon him.
Not everyone believes his story though. One of the detectives working on the case is determined to prove that he is not Neil Lacey. Cameron also feels some measure of guilt at duping the Lacey family, which only gets stronger the better he gets to know them.
When someone from his past turns up and threatens to expose Cameron, he must decide if he is willing to risk everything he has gained. However, the truth may be even more convoluted than Cameron knows.
This was a hard hitting book. The abuse that Cameron has suffered is not easy to read about. Neither is learning what fate befell all the boys that were kidnapped by Hank Miller. Cameron knew what his father was doing to the boys and, although really powerless to stop what was happening, he still carries the burden of guilt.
The plot of Counterfeit Son was quite twisty and disturbing. I did kind of guess what the resolution would be but I was happy to be proven right. The book does end on a happier note which was a relief after all the darkness. This was an uncomfortable but gripping read, one I am glad I picked up.