Sunday, July 14, 2013

Dualed by Elsie Chapman

Dualed by Elsie Chapman

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. (blurb from Goodreads)

Rating: R, 4 1/2 stars
Trigger warnings: graphic violence, death, familial death

I have a weird relationship with this book. I absolutely enjoyed it, but I had to take it really slow because parts were so intense. I’m not one for adrenaline--in fact, I hate most adrenaline-inducing activities. This book was quite adrenaline-inducing for me. At one point, I actually dreamed how I thought the book should end. It was rather bizarre that I physiologically reacted so strongly to this book, but don’t think that that’s a problem. Those reactions riveted me to the outcome of the novel.

It’s interesting, and I may get a lot of hate for this, but even though this book reminded me conceptually of The Hunger Games, I really did enjoy this book while I couldn’t finish The Hunger Games. I’m not sure why that is exactly, but I know that I appreciate West’s attitude from the beginning, while Katniss’ character is one of the reasons that I couldn’t finished The Hunger Games. I thought it was interesting to take such a violent concept and make it both individual and urban. I find that a lot of dystopian fiction is either violent on a grander scale or individual violence is moved out of an urban environment, even if that environment is merely a city park. For that matter, I enjoyed that Dualed rarely left it’s gritty urban setting. There was no green oasis that West retired to to take a break and wax philosophical about what her society meant. She was always on the move.
In the end, I think one of the reasons I liked this book so much was the pacing. The book is fast-paced from the beginning and it never slows down. For some books that doesn’t work, but I thought it worked really well in Dualed.

I’m intrigued by the fact that there is a sequel due for Dualed, and I’m really hoping it is as engaging as the first. I definitely recommend Dualed to any dystopian fans who don’t mind violence, because the book is really quite violent.

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