Dualed Hardcover – Feb 26 2013
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"This is one debut novel that will have readers hooked from the first line...It is a logical next-read for Hunger Games fans with potential for authentic class discussions on survival of the fittest, and making tough choices in a true 'kill or be killed' world."
About the Author
ELSIE CHAPMAN is a Canadian living in Tokyo with her husband and two children, where she writes to either movies on a loop or music turned up way too loud (and sometimes both at the same time). Visit Elsie at elsiechapman.com and follow her on Twitter @elsiechapman.
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Top Customer Reviews
Although to be fair, it may not be West’s fault that she made such poor choices, since the premise of the novel itself was a little shaky. I couldn’t understand why a society that was so poor would spend so much of their resources on the Alternate system. There was a brief explanation about breeding the strongest people but a society built solely on physical strength is doomed to fail and furthermore it seemed like all the money and resources invested in the manufacturing of alts could have been better spent on education and other programs that would have also created a stronger, smarter population but with a lot less bloodshed.
West--Even when she is avoiding fighting she is still teaching herself how to fight. She's confused, and strong.
Chord--Chord was a character that I loved from the start. He is tech savvy and does everything he possibly can to protect West. She's all he has left.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
West is literally running for her life for most of this book. She has gone active and has the constant knowledge that her ALT is after her. With all of this, "Dualed" lacks tension. It's annoyingly repetitive and West is just too stoic a narrator. The story starts off strong; West has just buried another sibling who was killed by their alternate. She is still in her funeral blacks when Cord, a boy she has known all of her life, goes active. (Going "Active" means that you have a month to hunt down and kill your alternate) West refuses to lose another person and pushes Cord to go after his alt immediately. This sets off a chain of action packed and heartbreaking events.
At this point, I am hungrily flipping through the pages. I'm thinking that this book is going to be great, but it isn't. The issue is that the book doesn't so much decline as it goes static. West runs around Kersh, trying to avoid her Alt and Cord, while killing strangers and innocents. In the first 10% of this book West becomes a Striker. A striker is an assassin who kills alts for those who can afford to pay. This ruined the book for me. One, because "Dualed" isn't being advertised as a book about an assassin and I felt completely blindsided. It happens so early in the book, that it blows my mind that it is not mentioned in the synopsis, the trailer or any other promotional media I have seen. Second, in a world filled with Katniss Everdeens and Rose Hathaways it is very difficult to like a heroine who kills for no reason.
The author tries to give us this spiel about how Striker's fight against the system. No. Robin Hood fights against the system. Bruce Wayne fights against the system, Striker's kill for the highest bidder. Sure, this is not what the Kersh government wants and I guess it is a form of rebellion, but that is not a good enough excuse. West does not sign up to help the little man or to smuggle people out of the city limits. No, she signs up to kill innocent people. At least the government gives them a 50% chance of survival. West and her people take that away. Since the government is so corrupt and rules absolutely, it's not like the people who can pay to eliminate their alternates have worked hard for their money or anything. These are people who have the option of not getting their hands dirty. It is cheating. There is a way of life in Kersh and instead of trying to improve that life, West is just helping cowards beat the system.
There is all this talk about how West should become a Striker as a mode of training. I expected to read awesome training sequences, where West learns to become a warrior. There is none. So, we just follow along as West bungles through the murders of innocent people. This storyline was just no good for me. Seeing as there is no real training, besides West getting the feel for killing another person, it just seemed villainous. A fifteen-year-old girl killing people does not entertain me. Especially, when she is killing for reasons other then survival. Scenes where she just walks up to an unsuspecting person and offs them really made me cringe inside. Why are we rooting for this cold-blooded killer?
The one good thing about this book is Cord. Cord is loyal, trustworthy and steadfast. He comes through for West even when she turns her back on him, demands he leave her alone and abandons him. He protects her despite herself and is always there to lend a hand. He is a strong young man who understands why she is pushing him away. Instead of getting pissy, Cord becomes even more determined. He is not going to leave her to face death alone. I loved that about him. It got to the point where I wanted Cord to just forget about West and find a girl who respected his strength. West becomes obsessed with protecting Cord, with good reason, but after awhile it just seemed shallow. The person she is really protecting is herself.
I always pick up dystopian novels hoping not to recreate, but have a similar sensation to how "The Hunger Games" made me feel. "Dualed" seemed a promising choice. A dystopian world where characters must kill a carbon copy of themself in order to survive? What a twisted, but brilliant concept. Unfortunately, the book did not live up to my expectations.
The writing itself in Dualed was gripping, but I did have a bit of trouble connecting with the characters. West Grayer is a young girl surrounded by death and loss, and I think she is a fair representation of that. She is withdrawn and pushes away anyone who attempts to get close to or help her. I think this included me. However, West was fascinating to observe (I never felt like I was there with her like I do in many books), and I enjoyed her interactions with Chord. My favorite thing about her was the doubt she felt about being the worthy one, being as she was a hired assassin for other people's Alts. As for West's Alt, I wish I could have known her a little better. We were only given brief glimpses of her life, and mystery does not always translate to villainy.
After it's all said and done, I have to applaud Elsie Chapman for Dualed . There were times that I was left scratching my head because of the pace, but I never felt the urge to put the book down. I think the strange and broken future world that saw kids killing kids on the streets kept my attention trained so completely upon it. I knew from a few chapters into the book that it may not be for me, but Chapman had me and wasn't going to let me go. And though I know that Dualed 's sequel, Divided , will be coming out next year, I found the ending to be completely satisfying. I'm a huge fan of Old School science fiction's open endings, but that's not the case with Dualed . I can't imagine that any readers will be left standing at the edge of a cliff begging for book 2 because of how it all wraps up. Then again, I just read the ARC, so there may be a huge twist at the end that I completely missed.
Teen or adult reader alike, I think you should read the book for yourself. It's so fast and action-packed, it's likely you will forget that you are reading.
*To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received a digital eARC of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. It has in no way affected the outcome. All opinions expressed are rambling, honest, and completely my own.
Dualed centers around a society when everyone has a genetic alternate complete with government medically "timed" wiring that can be activated at any time a little before or during puberty. Such internal devices make killing your twin an undebatable command. But where there are laws, there are criminals willing to break them. Where there are law abiding citizens, there's also a black market.
Dualed is told from West Grayer's point of view. Her situation instantly made me like her. She's lost a lot of her loved ones and virtually one step from homelessness on top of poverty. Her only hope for a better living situation is being activated, and yet the public school system is not up to part. With a little push, she delves into a journey of bloodshed and cowardness. While I completely understood West's hesitation, the length of it seemed a bit at olds with her initial portrayal. She was kind of a walking contradiction. I was curious to know her Alt's point of view. It's weird to automatically have an enemy from the time you are born, and while Dualed is written to make you automatically hate "the other one". It would have been nice to see things from their perspective.
Dualed was both an entertaining as well as frustrating novel. I found it difficult to get into the story right away. Mainly because I was juggling reads. Dualed is the type of novel that demands your undivided attention. West goes back and forth between the past and present, and if you're not careful you'll get lost. While West's character was a grey zone for me, I was completely in awe of the society. I could see a lot of potential. Kersh seemed very cut throat (literally)! I look forward to book two.
I'm an Ambuzzador (via Random Buzzers) for this book and was given a free copy for an honest review.