Series: Dualed #1
Published by: Random House Books for Young Readers on February 26, 2013
Genre: Dystopian, Romance, Science Fiction, Suspense
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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!