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Monday, April 29, 2013

"Dualed: Dualed Book 1" by Elise Chapman (Reviewed by Cindy Hannikman)

Visit Elise Chapman's Official Website HERE

: 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.

FORMAT: Dualed is a YA novel that has a post-apocalyptic feeling to it. It is filled with advanced technology, adventure, and romance. It stands at 302 pages and was published by Random House Books for Young Readers on February 26, 2013.   

ANALYSIS: Dualed was one of the YA novels of the year that I was looking forward to reading. It had a dystopia setting that had a unique plot twist – two individuals walking around as twins and one must 'kill' the other in order to survive. Unfortunately, as I sit here days after finishing the book I have mixed feelings about the entire book.

My mixed feelings stem from the fact that I seemed to enjoy what I read, but unfortunately the extreme holes presented in the plot and the rather loosely developed world left me feeling as if this whole book could have been a lot better.

To fully understand my issues, I will give you a brief synopsis of the book:

The whole concept of the book revolves around the idea that some remove part of the nation has found a way to remove themselves from an ongoing war. Unfortunately, this removal came with a price. The individuals are unable to produce children.

A group of scientists came up a way to bypass this problem and created an extremely complex cloning system that involves taking the genes of two individuals and mixing them with the next two people to create two children that are the same. These children are brought up in two separate worlds and will not meet until their 'task'; that is described below.

Now, in order for this new small nation to survive they have to take the cloned children and force them to kill their alternative self. This is done in an effort to raise a nation of warriors. Children between the ages of 10 and 20 are 'activated' and given the task to try and kill their alternative self within 30 days. If this is not done, on the 31st day both children die.

This whole process is overseen by a 'board'. However, I can't really tell you much about the board because they weren't very developed in the story.

Then things get interesting. People who are unwilling to kill, or who are extremely rich, can hire a 'striker' who will kill their other self. This secret striker organization is run by a mysterious man and made up of the most elite fighters.

While this whole idea may seem like it would make a great story, it didn't unfold that way. I have so many questions that are left unanswered. For example, how did the 'alts' (name for the twins until one of them is killed) not run into each other when growing up? How come the scientists who created this complex system, were not be able to come up with a better system that didn't involve mixing genes from random strangers?

The abundance of questions I had only seemed to grow as I kept reading. I wanted to see more of a roll of "The Board". Unfortunately, that didn't happen. So this mysterious "Board" was just left out there with no real development. In fact, it just seemed as if there were a bunch of people running around afraid of the Board, but they didn't really do anything.

I also could not understand how West (main character) was able to just gain entry into some ultra-secret striker club with no training, no knowledge, and no experience. How did they know she'd perform the tasks at hand? Did they not care?

The abundance of questions I was left with when I finished this novel wasn't my only issue. The writing style of this book is extremely stiff. I'm not sure if this is intentional because the character is rather 'badass' and wants to keep to herself, or if it was an oversight. This stiff writing style led me to not really care about the characters, but just read through the book as an observer.

Another issue I had was I kept waiting for someone, somewhere in the book to rebel against the Board. This doesn't happen. Maybe there are plans for this in the future, but I kept feeling as if the book was trying to go one direction (a rebellion), but not succeeding.

Why with so many issues did I keep reading the book? I have to admit a part of me was intrigued by it. The storyline was rather unique and I wanted to see how it panned out. Maybe things didn't go the way I wanted. Maybe I have more questions that need to be answered, but I don't think the book was a waste of time.

I believe people going into the book understanding that this is a 'light' novel with no real development can get a lot out of it. There is also a planned a sequel, so there is a chance that things will flesh out in the future. I have to admit I hope so, because I feel this story may have had potential and there might still be hope for it.


Jessica Strider said...

I had a lot of the same issues with it. I thought at the very least the strikers should have an exam, or first kill you have to complete successfully in order to join. It's painfully obvious that she wasn't skilled or mature enough for such a 'job' either.

I'm also not sure why the board had trouble finding - and putting down - the strikers. They've got giant hand tattoos for crying out loud. Just have the populace take off their gloves and see who's tattooed.

There's a really good fantasy duology that used a similar premise (must kill twin) by Maria Brennan called "Warrior" and "Witch". You might enjoy those more.

Anonymous said...

Hmm. Now I admit I haven't read this one myself, but by the sound of it this book is one that take what could be an interesting premise and just ends up with poor execution. It's a shame, because at first the description of the book sounded quite appealing, and I had a dozen questions in my mind about how the world worked and so on. And then the more I read in the review, it seemed like those questions really wouldn't end up getting answered. A disappointment, but better to find that out now than after I'd read the thing and gotten even more disappointed.

Great review, and I appreciate the honesty!

Anonymous said...

Those are good questions you raised. I like to hope that I would have raised the same questions had I attempted to read the novel.

Your review of this book should be required reading of my beta readers. I want to make sure everything makes sense in my novel.

Cindy said...

You're welcome! I really want to be fair to the series, so maybe these questions are all fully covered in the sequel.

It was a quick read, so I'm sure I'll read it and see.

@Jessica I agree! The tattoos bothered me. I mean the group was so secret, so why were they putting major tattoos on a huge part of their body like that? (Yes, because assassins need their hands), but wouldn't that make them visible to the Board that frowns upon it?

And the whole idea that any individual could just join seemed weird. Like how did her Alt get the Alt's BF to join such a secret club if it was so unknown?

Many questions....

@bibliotropic I believe you are write. Great idea.... poor execution.

Anonymous said...

very good book and i was addicted to finding out how it ends and the sequal is no let down infact the society knew west was a striker and is HIRING HER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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