Publisher: Random HouseRelease Date: February 26th, 2013
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopia
Series: Dualed #1
Source: I received an e-arc from the publisher.
Description from Goodreads: 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.
Review: Ready? Let's do this. Dualed was a very underwhelming read for me. It started off with several chapters of infodumping and dialogue that did nothing to hook the reader. A much less patient person could have easily put this book down and moved on to something else and I would not have faulted them for that. There was too much dialogue, too much set up, and hardly any excitement.
One of the things that is really important to me as a reader (and an editor) is imagery. What does the world smell like, taste like, feel like? I want to see it through the protagonist's eyes. I want to feel like I am there. I want description but not too much description. It has to be the right combination of plot, setting, and characters. You know what was missing here? Setting. Full out. It was disappointing too. There was so much potential to expand the writing and make me believe in this world-building, and I can't help but feel it was a missed opportunity. Now this may be because this is the author's first novel and these are skills that can be expanded with time. I do hope so, because this book did have a lot of potential.
I loved the plot. I really did. It got a little repetitive at times, but I think the whole idea of ALTs and taking down your ALT was incredibly exciting. I thought all the time that West spent hiding from/hunting her ALT was pretty fun and there were some great action sequences that had me turning the pages quickly. It wasn't all bad.
But...I have to say, I was not at all impressed with the characters. West wasn't bad, but she wasn't developed as much as she should have been. Neither was Chord. And again, this has to do with writing ability. I didn't get enough background. There was too much telling in the writing. Because of the telling, I never felt like I really knew West or could sympathize with her. I didn't believe in her relationship with Chord. And when West became a Striker and started killing people, even though it was a normal thing in this world, I really disliked her even more. She was a murderer. And though she felt SOME guilt for what she was doing, I didn't feel that it was nearly enough.
And then there is the world-building. Or lack of it, really. A cold vaccine really did all of this? I find that truly hard to believe. Supposedly it made people infertile and then the government had to get involved and start making people in a lab. They made two doppelgangers, they grew up separately, and somehow before their 18th birthday they were to get an assignment to take each other down. The one left standing was the strongest and got to live/be a soldier. (The author never tells you exactly what this soldier will be fighting for.) Supposedly this was to control population (I think) which makes absolutely no sense because you could have just made one person in the first place, amirite? And what exactly IS going on outside those walls? They never exactly tell you that.
I just had a lot of problems with this one. It was suspenseful enough, the characters were developed enough, and the book was all pretty mediocre for me. I wish I had liked it better. I was really looking forward to it, but before I started reading I had seen some mixed reviews so I had lowered my expectations a little. I'm glad I did or I would have been utterly disappointed.
Do I recommend it? I cannot honestly say I do. It's just that there are SO MANY dystopians these days and there are so many that are better. And I think it might be better to invest your precious reading time in one of those. That being said, it's not very long and it does go fast, so there is that. I don't think I will be reading the sequel. It's just not worth it. And that makes me sad.