Title: Dualed [Goodreads][Amazon]
Author: Elsie Chapman
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Release Date: February 26, 2013
In My Opinion: Worth a try!
One Line: Not as much as action as I hoped, but it was good.
About the Book: You or your Alt? Only one will survive.
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.
Elsie Chapman’s suspenseful YA debut weaves unexpected romance into a novel full of fast-paced action and thought-provoking philosophy. When the story ends, discussions will begin about this future society where every adult is a murderer and every child knows there is another out there who just might be better.
I was pretty excited to get the chance to read and review Dualed back when I was still very much into dystopian novels. It’s not that I dislike the genre now, it’s just become so common and every book has that same feel to it, plus the ongoing superfluous amount of detail is like overkill for me. Thank goodness this book is short (around 300 pages) and had a decent amount of action in it that kept me entertained, even if the heroine kind of bugged me a little. I really enjoyed Elsie’s writing and her world-building was great, it was just the story itself that fell kind of flat for me.
Let’s start off with the world-building. The world itself was original, interesting, and sinister. A world where there’s two of everyone and when you’re of a certain age you’re supposed to kill your supposed “twin” in 31 days or else you both die from a pre-programmed self-detonation via the government? How could you NOT be attracted to a premise like that! In this world, you kid is basically genetically altered and created from you & your spouse’s DNA and the DNA of another couple. It’s not a very complicated process and I liked the way Elsie explained it all. The world itself isn’t that different from a futuristic world that we live in now in terms of society. There was some explanation as to why and how the society ended up this way, but I was hoping for a little bit more insight into that, which wasn’t given. In other dystopians where there’s a clear enemy in the “higher power” or governing class, Dualed focused more on the main character, West, and her struggles.
Unfortunately, I was expecting a lot more action that I was given. I didn’t really like West. She wasn’t the strong, determined character I was hoping for. It takes her a lot longer than I expected to come to terms with facing down her Alt and I couldn’t believe Elsie let it go on as long as she did. Yes, there were moments of intense action and riveting scenes, but they were drowned out by the mundane day-to-day happenings of West as she tries to “prepare” for her inevitable confrontation with her Alt. She has been through a lot, I know, and doesn’t have anyone really to rely on, but I think I would’ve liked a tougher character. She does have her good points and she eventually learns to hold her own with a weapon, but she just didn’t do it for me. I just couldn’t get on board with her flat-out ignoring her issues and focusing on other things when killing her Alt should’ve been a top priority. I mean, it was a short book, but I felt like it could’ve been shorter for lack of action and interesting events it failed to produce.
With all that being said, it’s still one of the better dystopians I’ve read. I think I would’ve liked to see more Alts killing Alts, or people rising up against this insane government, rather than see a girl run, hide, and basically ignore what she has to do until the last possible minute and then that’s when the real action begins. I’d say the ending was probably my favorite part in the whole book, and boy did it take a lot to finally get there. There are still a few questions I had about the world as a whole that I’m guessing Elsie is saving for the second book, but for a first in a series, Dualed was okay.