Author: Elsie Chapman
Series: Dualed #1
Publication Date: February 26, 2013
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 291 (ARC)
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.
I have been looking forward to this book for a while. It was one of my first ever wishlist books and when I found out that I was getting sent an ARC, I jumped for joy. As I began reading, I was insanely excited simply because the first several chapters of this book left me breathless. There was so much intensity and emotion in them. I could feel the sadness, the loss, the heartbreak dripping off the page and I experienced the regret and turmoil alongside West. And then the book took on a whole new direction once she was given her assignment to hunt down her Alt and I had trouble reading. The feelings I were overcome with in the beginning disappeared and were instead replaced by confusion and, at times, a dislike for the main character.
I loved the plot of this book. It was so unique and is what originally caught my interest. The concept of alternate human beings, strikers, and a place like Kersh blew me away. The creativity and thought behind it is amazing, but it's disappointing that such an awesome idea didn't reach its full potential because of the main character. It almost seems as if West was the hindrance to this books greatness. If she was written differently, or acted differently, I feel like I would have enjoyed the book more because she was my biggest problem. She was hypocritical, illogical, truly weak and falsely strong, and her thought processes were hard to follow. For example, she spent so much time killing other people's Alts for pay, but when the time came to kill her own, she couldn't. She could kill other people without batting an eye, but when it came to her own survival and necessity to live she grew a conscience and showed the first signs of hesitation and would run away instead of facing everything head on. Most of the book was her running away and the oddness of it when comparing it to the West we met at the beginning was mind-boggling and frustrating. She was thoughtless and had a complete personality change in regards to herself, her life, her goals, and the way she treated the people around her. She even spent a lot of time punishing Chord because she insisted on going with him to hunt down his Alt and when he tried to do the same for her, she ran away from him. It's hypocritical. I like characters that are stubborn and can assert their opinions, but not ones who are hypocritical and act on childish impulses.
West began this book as a really positive character. She was strong emotionally and physical despite her heartbreak and as the book progressed, I feel as if I watched her shed all of her positive personality traits and become a weak-minded individual that lacks focus and strength. When things finally become important, she becomes unimpressive and this is the West that existed in a great majority of the book. At the end of the book, very small signs of the West from the beginning of the book leaked through, which is why I plan on giving the sequel a chance, but it breaks my heart to see such great potential improperly fleshed out. I was disconnected for most of what happened in the book.
The synopsis is slightly misleading, too. I was led to believe there is some type of romance because it says she's running away from love. Well, there is romance, but it exists in perhaps the last 5% of the book and wasn't very climactic at all. I could see what was happened as a reader, West was oblivious to it, and even when she got together with her love interest, I felt as if she didn't care for him as more than a friend. It seems as if the romance is there to set up something big for book two, so that's another reason why I may continue the series.
Overall, I was disappointed with this one. I was disconnected from the main character as a whole and disappointed with the emotional plot developments. The plot itself and the creativity behind it earned this review an extra half star and that alone is what holds my faith for the sequel. With all of the silly little emotional antics set aside, I'm hoping we can get the original West back in the sequel and continue with a kickass heroine in a really creative world. While I do recommend this book to anyone interested in unique dystopians, this is more or less the type of book that you should probably take out of the library.