Dualed by Elsie Chapman

DualedDualed by Elsie Chapman
Series: Dualed #1
Published by: Random House Books for Young Readers on February 26, 2013
Genre: Dystopian, Romance, Science Fiction, Suspense
Pages: 304
Source: NetGalley
Buy on AmazonBook Details
Rating: ★★

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.

The first few chapters of this book blew me away. Like, blew my life to bits. The intensity, the devastation, the near-tears reaction, the morally questionable assassination… I got so wrapped up in the story and the kick-ass-ness that I think I lost my sanity for a while. Dualed turned me into a monster. I was only 25% done and I had already morphed into some sort of Gladiator Game spectator: demanding blood and screaming at West to kill people. I was some sort of insane, bloodthirsty reader.

Much to my devastation, that’s about the extent of my excitement for this book.

My biggest problem with Dualed is the main character herself: West. She is the biggest hypocrite and it drove me nuts. Let me explain. At the beginning of the book, Chord (West’s friend) gets his assignment to kill his Alt. He’s in a daze and doesn’t know what to do. West completely gets on his case for not acting immediately because every second of a head start counts. She pushes him to find his Alt and insists that she comes along, despite Chord’s protests. Then, when West gets her assignment, she freezes up. She doesn’t act immediately—she just stalls. Chord has to come in and push her out the door to go find her Alt. Then when he wants to come along, she won’t let him.. Then she spends the entire rest of the book pushing Chord away and refusing to let him come near her (I think it was all for the sake of “protecting” him so he wouldn’t get caught in crossfire). The hypocrisy of it all just drove me insane!

West went the opposite way of most characters in books. Ideally, I like to see a character start out weak and then grow and become a stronger/better person. I feel like West started out quite strong but then turned into a weak, frightful character. And the worst part is, she never really changes. Even at the very end, she’s still treating Chord like some little kid she has to protect. She pushes him away and never lets him help her.

Furthermore, I didn’t understand West’s logic in the book. West decides to become an assassin to help train to kill her own Alt. But surely if she’s out there killing other Alts, she’s quite capable of killing her own? So then when she gets her assignment, why doesn’t she get it over with? Why does she run away and hide from her Alt for the entire book? She’s still taking on assassination jobs, she’s still killing other peoples’ Alts, but she refuses to kill her own because she’s convinced that she’s not good enough and needs more training (I guess).

West’s hypocrisy and the fact that I couldn’t understand her logic at all really disconnected me from her as a character, and I think that largely contributed to my dislike for this book. It was hard to enjoy the story when I couldn’t relate to West whatsoever.

I’m sad to say that I’m really disappointed with this book. It’s partially my fault for over-hyping it, but even so, I wish it was better. There was so much promise because this is such an insanely awesome idea, but it just didn’t reach its full potential. West was annoying, we only learn bits and pieces about “The Board” (which is basically the government[?] that set up the Alt system), there is a bit of romance but it barely exists because West spent 95% of the book running away from Chord… There does seem to be an interesting history behind this book with war, the setting up of the Alt system, etc., but we don’t learn much about it. I assume the series is going to lead up to some sort of rebellion against The Board and the Alt system, but this book didn’t set up for that very well at all. There were only extremely minimal/subtle hints about any sort of dislike for the Alt system. Nearly everyone just accepted it without question. In fact, the ending wrapped things up so well that I feel like I have no idea where the sequel will even begin.

I might still end up continuing the series just because the ending of Dualed was a bit satisfying and I’m curious to see where the story leads. Hopefully there will be better world building in the second book, better developed characters, and logic I can relate to!

The Verdict


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    1. Yeah if the MC was more likeable I think I would have had a better/easier time with this book. But a MC you don’t like or can’t relate to just ruins it!!

  1. It does look like I enjoyed this one a bit more. There were little aspects of the world building that I did like but as a whole, the book fell pretty flat for me as well. I totally agree with you that we didn’t get enough information on the board and what they were creating this super society for. Fantastic review, Ashley. I’m so sad that this one isn’t working for any of us 🙁 *sniffles*

    Jenni @ Alluring Reads recently posted: Dualed Review
    1. *sniff* I just feel like this book had the potential to be so amazing, and I’m bummed it didn’t deliver!

      I don’t know if you saw, but Blythe had an awesome idea: what if this book were told from the POVs of West AND her alt? Now that would have been cool!

      1. THAT is an AWESOME idea! Except her Alt would have to be the bad-ass we spend most of Dualed thinking she is, instead of, well, you know…what she actually turns out to be.

        Kelly recently posted: Book Review: Radiant
        1. LOL totally!! With all the cowering and hiding and running away, Dualed was in desperate need of some bad-ass-ness.

  2. Huh, I figured with the way Dualed ended, that it was a standalone. Where the heck are they going to start a sequel? Everything was all butterflies and rainbows by the end!

    But yes, to all of your review – I agree wholeheartedly. Especially about feeling crazed by my eagerness to see West kill her Alt, only to be majorly disappointed when she spent most of the book running away.

    Kelly recently posted: Book Review: Radiant
    1. RIGHT?? I totally agree. Like… there was absolutely zero platform for a sequel. I have no idea where it will even begin.

  3. I totally agree!!! I was so annoyed with how much time West spent pushing Chord away. Totally didn’t do anything to help the romance either…
    I really felt like there a lot of stuff that should have been caught with beta reading and editing – Like what I was most upset with is if Kersh is so anti-war, why did The Board set up a system where people are destined to kill each other?? It didn’t make sense to me. I think there were a few plot holes and some other details that weren’t included that should have been.
    I think the striker idea was a good idea, but not executed (pun unintended lol) very well.
    Great review! I ended up liking the concept and some of the action, but I agree – it just didn’t live up to the expectations!

    Brittany @ The Book Addict's Guide recently posted: The Selective Collective Features: ELEANOR & PARK by Rainbow Rowell
    1. Yeah the world building in general was really shaky. A lot of it actually didn’t bother me much while I was reading, but in hindsight, so much of it doesn’t make sense. Like if they need soldiers, then why would they 1) not train people to fight properly, 2) kill off half their population, 3) let people do non-fighting related stuff after they kill their Alts?

      …just.. none of it makes sense! And you’re right, stuff like that should have been caught in beta reading!

    1. I know, I was DEVASTATED. I remember the day I got approved on NetGalley. I was screaming and freaking out to Coding God. Literally.. I was probably extremely unintelligible. I read it immediately, expecting to be blown away… and then… ugh.. *cries in corner*

      I really look forward to your review though. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that you like it at least a teensy bit more than I did. 😛

  4. Well shoot Ashley!!! I had really high hopes for this one, and I so wish the whole book could have been like that first 25% that sucked you in:) I have a huge problem with hypocrisy in characters, it drives me crazy, so I think I would likely struggle with West as a character as well. Still, the whole premise is fascinating, and maybe she’ll mature and grow in the next book:) *fingers crossed*

  5. Ah that sucks! I have been really looking forward to getting my hands on a copy of this when it releases. I still might, but all the things you mention are things that annoy me as well, especially the hypocrisy. IT just grates on my nerves. Don’t you just hate when a book starts off great but fall flat…The dissappointment! lol Awesome review Ashley!

    Janina (@Synchro_Reading) recently posted: A Shade of Vampire by Bella Forrest
  6. I read a review earlier today that mentioned the same sorts of issues with West’s character. I really don’t think I’ll like her from what I’ve heard. It’s a shame that this book went downhill for you, especially after the exciting start. But thanks for the helpful review, Ashley! 🙂

  7. I just commented on another insightful review of this one today, and I think you hit the nail on the head on some of the points that I disliked. Like I said in my other comment, the longer I’m away from this one, the more impartially I can view it. And I am sorry to say it disappointed me, too. I was SO SO excited to get a galley. And I’m glad I read it instead of going out and buying it, because it’s not worthy of that. I just expected SO much more, in terms of world-building and characterization.

  8. I flew through this book! I think I read it in like an hour or so, it was very action packed. I’m sorry it didn’t live up to your expectations though, I hate it when a book ends up falling flat. I’m not sure where the sequel will go either since I feel like this can standalone. I’m curious to read more about the world though. Thanks for your honest review!

  9. I have high hopes for this book – sorry to hear that it let you down.
    I’m still gonna read it but I will lower my expectations!

  10. I was really looking forward to reading this one, The premise sounded really interesting so i marked it on my TBR pile but now I’m not so sure i want to read it. Your thoughts on West have practically turned me off of the book, she seems so weak and like a complete hypocrite and if there’s something I can’t stand it’s when a character feels the need to “protect another character” I usually find that they go through such stupid lengths to do this, especially when it wasn’ t even their place from the start decide whether or not the other character needed saving. And I see this happening and Dualed, which unforutnely has officially put me off of it.

    West kind of seems like Ana from Incarante, at one point in the book Ana retreats into herself and instead of becoming stronger over the book I remeber she was making progress and then it was like she retreated into herself. In the end Ana sort of broke free off that but i remember it being one of my biggest problems with Incarnate and it sounds West goes through that as well, except she doesn’t break out of it.
    Great Review though

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