Dualed

By Elsie Chapman
Published on February 26, 2013
Published by Random House Books for Young Readers
Source: Netgalley
The city of Kersh is a safe haven, but the price of safety is high. Everyone has a genetic Alternate—a twin raised by another family—and citizens must prove their worth by eliminating their Alts before their twentieth birthday. Survival means advanced schooling, a good job, marriage—life.

Fifteen-year-old West Grayer has trained as a fighter, preparing for the day when her assignment arrives and she will have one month to hunt down and kill her Alt. But then a tragic misstep shakes West’s confidence. Stricken with grief and guilt, she’s no longer certain that she’s the best version of herself, the version worthy of a future. If she is to have any chance of winning, she must stop running not only from her Alt, but also from love . . . though both have the power to destroy her.
Dualed presents a pretty creepy alternate future, one which the characters only barely question throughout the book. The characters are living in a world which trains children to be killers, and expects no one to ever question why this is done. Knowing that this is a planned series, I shouldn't expect these characters to solve their universe's problems all in one book, but I still got to the end thinking there should have been more done to push the characters towards questioning Kersh's government.

I enjoyed this book but didn't love it as much as I'd hoped to.  Sometimes it felt like several different stories just tacked together -- West's life as a striker (a hired assassin), her quest to kill her own Alt, and her budding romance with Chord all felt like three different stories.  West makes a lot of decisions which are never fully explained and which don't make a lot of sense. I guess some of it can be chalked up to her being fifteen, but not all of it.  While reading, I had a ton of questions that could have been answered by some basic worldbuilding, but which were never addressed.  The very fact that Kersh's government spends so many resources on a population where 50% of them will eventually wind up dead and the survivors, who are expected to be elite, the best and the strongest, are allowed to get lazy and complacent didn't make much sense to me. There's clearly more to the story of why Kersh has the Alt program. Maybe later books in the series will help fill in some gaps.

West can be a difficult character to like.  She's emotionally distant, which is understandable given her past, and she does her best to push everyone else in her life away.  Even though she's the narrator of the story, we still have a hard time getting inside her head.  She seems to ping-pong between being this stone-cold killer and a scared little girl.  Again, understandable, given her situation, but it can give the reader a bit of whiplash sometimes. It's hard to reconcile the West who can put her feelings aside and gun people down for money with the West who is afraid of facing off with her own Alt.

Overall, I felt like like this was a good book which had glimmers of something which could have been even better.  Chapman's a strong writer, but I had a hard time connecting emotionally to the story, especially the romance angle, and there were times where I honestly didn't care too much what happened to West.  I'll probably still check out the next book in the series, just to see what happens next.

1 comment:

  1. I love your review! I felt the same as you did but I feel like you articulated it better! :p It was a bunch of different things going on (I felt like the whole striker thing was just thrown in there) and West was not a character who you could find a connection with.

    Hmmm, this book had so much potential ):

    Graet review!

    Amber Elise @ Du Livre

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