Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Release Date: February 26, 2013
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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.
Dualed was one of my most anticipated debuts of 2013, so when I saw that it was getting mixed reviews I got a little bit nervous but was still mostly sure that I would love. And I wasn't wrong! Dualed is a fast-paced dystopian read that kept me up long into the night because I couldn't put it down. I read it all in one sitting telling myself I'd only read one more chapter and then finish the rest later until it got to the point where I figured I should just finish. I would definitely stay up to all hours of insanity to read this again. It was that good.
West is a tad underdeveloped, and at times it was hard to get a good grip on her character. In the end, though, I still loved her. She has strongly conflicting values. It's difficult to get past the idea that murder, in this case, in this society, is acceptable to her, but that's the way she was raised. Even so, I loved that West wasn't completely okay with the idea of killing her Alt. In some way, she knows that it is like killing herself. Her conflict brings out her humanity. I didn't always understand why she made the choices she did but it was clear that she thought things through, and that was admirable too.
THE LOVE INTEREST
Like West, Chord is a slight bit underdeveloped. However, this didn't keep me from falling head over heels for him. He's fiercely protective of West, and he doesn't want her to do anything stupid. At the same time, I love love love that he lets her make her own decisions. He helps her in any way he can, too, and he isn't afraid to risk his own life for her. He's loyal, always, to the end. His love in unconditional. He's sweet and he's sexy and he has one of the hottest names in existence. So, I'm not ashamed to admit my deep and abiding love for him.
The best thing about Dualed was its suspense, easily. I love a good fast-paced action novel. Dualed promised to deliver in this department from the beginning and did not disappoint. It was a major page turner that left me breathless with every plot twist and aching to read faster so that I could figure out what happened next. It's almost a thriller. West is on the run, and her Alt is hunting her. But while West doesn't want to be hunted, she is reluctant to be the hunter.
From the very beginning, we're launched right into the action. West's brother Luc is with her, and they're all set up to hunt down Chord's Alt. That assignment doesn't go smoothly, and West, traumatized by the experience, is drawn into a new world: that of the Strikers.
The Strikers are a team of people, usually made of those who have already killed their Alts. But West is something of a special case, and her skills are impressive enough that she is recruited. I admired the way she came to her decision. She actually thought about it, and didn't do anything impulsive. She weighed her options and decided what would be best for her survival.
However, this wasn't quite the story I was expecting. I though there would be more of West with her Alt, and that they would meet or something, more so than they did to kill each other. However, just because I was expecting a slightly different story doesn't mean I didn't love what the story was. If anything, I loved it more.
Dualed easily captured my attention and my heart. With a spectacular, original plot, this dystopian found its way to my favorites list.
Romance, yay! There actually wasn't as much romance in this book as I would have like, me being the romance-obsessed girl that I am. However, I loved what there was, and I hope that there's more romance in the next book! At the beginning, West pushes Chord away to protect him. But eventually, she softens up. Their feelings for one another are so evident and so gorgeous and the scenes between them charged with so much emotion that I became fully invested in making sure that they ended up together by the end of this book. When West finally starts to let Chord in, I swear my heart did a thousand somersaults. The romance in this book was just lovely, and yet intense as well. In a word, perfect. It just needed more!
Elsie's writing is fun and girlish, and I mean that in a good way. West has a very young voice, but her naïvety made her more real to me, so I liked that. It's a unique voice in YA, one that's extremely vulnerable but working hard to be strong. I also love the world-building, and the whole city of Kersh came across strongly to me, and I could believe that it was real. It think it could be amped up a little in the next book, with more complex word choice and such, but for this book I think everything worked perfectly.
Dualed definitely did not end the way I expected it to. There actually isn't much of a cliffhanger, which I was really excited about. It's nice to see that the book could simply come to an end. However, I was still left dying for more! I didn't need a cliffhanger to hold my attention for the next book. I loved the way everything worked out, and that it was intense up until the very last moment. I was holding my breath and praying by the time this book ended, but that's what made it so fabulous.
While I can see that Dualed isn't for everyone, I can already tell that it's going to be hugely popular. It's one of the most suspenseful novels I've read in quite some time, and though the characters could use some work everything else is just about perfect. I loved the concept, loved the execution, and loved the general awesomeness of the book. I would absolutely recommend it to dystopian lovers and those who love to be kept on their toes. I'll definitely be picking up the sequel, Divided, and keeping tabs on Elsie's future work.
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