Dualed

Dualed

Book rating: 03 Hardback Dualed

By (author) Elsie Chapman

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  • Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
  • Format: Hardback | 304 pages
  • Dimensions: 142mm x 223mm x 27mm | 435g
  • Publication date: 26 February 2013
  • Publication City/Country: New York, NY
  • ISBN 10: 0307931544
  • ISBN 13: 9780307931542
  • Sales rank: 149,442

Product description

Two of you exist. 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. `Stylish, frenetic, and violent, Chapman's debut is the textual equivalent of a Quentin Tarantino movie.` --`Publishers Weekly` `Clever suspense--here, stalking is a two-way street.` --`Kirkus Reviews`

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Author information

ELSIE CHAPMAN grew up in Prince George, British Columbia, Canada, before graduating from the University of British Columbia with a BA in English literature. She lives in Vancouver 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). `Dualed` is her first novel.

Customer reviews

By Debby (Snuggly Oranges) 14 Sep 2013 2

Dualed is a debut novel with an intriguing dystopian concept. Every person has an Alt - a genetically identical twin - and they must prove their worth to the community by eliminating that Alt before they turn 20. Only upon "completion" do the citizens finally get to live a peaceful life. That sounds epic, right? Sadly, I was slightly disappointed.

This novel held a lot of promise, but right from the get go it became obvious that the concept left a lot of questions by which you can poke holes in the logic of the world building. Basically, this is a walled community, set up by a society called The Board. After they found a cure for the common cold, they realized later that it made everyone infertile. The community was founded as a sort of utopia - a place that should be free from the wars surrounding them outside. However, they wanted to keep that peace and had to be ready for attacks from the outside. Therefore, when ensuring population growth by fertility treatments they manipulated the DNA to create two identical twins in separate families. The idea is Darwinian by nature. The two will be trained to ultimately eliminate the other. The stronger one should therefore always win and thereby prove their worth to the community. (And if neither of them eliminates the other before the time is up, they both die from a kind of programming in their DNA.) In sum, then, every person in the community is a murderer and has been taught from birth to be a soldier against the evil outside.

Let's start with the positives. What did this novel ultimately contain?
- BAGS of action. If that's what you're looking for, don't worry, you're safe.
A nice love story that is really, really on the side and doesn't detract from the plot.

- A female protagonist who ultimately knows when and how to be strong.

- A very engaging last quarter that pulls the rating upwards a bit.

Inconsistencies or points which really bothered me include:
- So the concept of the world is Darwinian, but around 2/3 into the novel, West (the main character) mentions that one particular district, Leyton, is the wealthy district. They get special treatment, better training, better food, and ultimately have higher odds of completion. That kind of kills the survival of the fittest idea.

- I had an extremely difficult time wrapping my head around the idea that everyone in this community over the age of 20 is a murderer. It's a fact. That's pretty screwed up. I mean, they are trained for this from birth. Death is ALL around them. On a completely regular day, in a crowded square, they can witness a completion. And yes, this is the whole concept. If I couldn't get around that, I shouldn't have picked it up. But what got to me was how everyone reacts to this. Long story short: they don't. People witness a completion right in front of them and barely even blink. I'm sorry, but you cannot just look death in the face like that and accept it as normal. It almost felt like the book was glorifying violence at certain points just because it was so insensitive to the implications.

- And there was barely any mention (besides like two short declarations) that there was a hint of an uprising. Obviously that will come. But this was not covered in this installment at all. In fact, looking at this book alone, it just looks like everyone's perfectly fine with all the killing. When I got to about 70%, I took another look at the blurb. It conveniently states, "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." Sorry guys, but in a dystopia, I need those societal questions raised MUCH SOONER.

- Chord, while just recently achieving completion himself, seems to be able to throw money at West whenever he wants. Like he's made of money. Despite being raised in the exact same circumstances as West and also having no parents. It bothered me.

- West, the main character, bothered me to no end. The whole book is written from her perspective but I found it to be extremely bland and static. I felt no emotion or sympathy for her. Right before the end, West mentions she gives herself "over to the coldness again -- closing [herself] off, shifting back to that earlier numbness in which [she] nearly lost [herself]." It was not clear to me before that that was a coping mechanism. The whole novel up to that point read as extremely bland.

- And to make things (possibly) worse I didn't understand West's hesitance with killing her Alt. She became a striker (basically, a mercenary taking out Alts for the rich) to train for the experience of killing. But still she wouldn't go after her Alt. I suppose it was scary and confrontational, but because of the earlier mentioned mask she wears, it didn't come across well. It's like she says she's scared, but then she does something completely fearless. She says she feels guilty for killing others, but then shows absolutely no reaction after taking out another strike. Overall the novel is a lot of telling, not showing. And this inconsistency with West's character is best summed up in the following quote, which takes place after she's taken out at least 20 hits but never shown remorse.

"To kill someone by accident, through carelesssness, someone who's not a strike, or my Alt-my stomach rolls with nausea at the thought of it. Never. I could never live with myself." - Dualed, Elsie Chapman

Summing Up...

The characters came across as a bit static and did not capture my heart, the world building was so brief and unexplained it made me sad, and the ultimate (sort of) glorification of violence really put me off. There was a noticeable lack in secondary characters, and the prose was nothing special. Would I recommend it? Not in good conscience. While the blurb was promising, the story never fully captured my attention nor my heart. Sorry Dualed, it's not you, it's me.

By Kayla Beck 26 Mar 2013 4

In Dualed , we are brought into Kersh: a city-state in a post-apocalyptic world where humanity has been left infertile. The Board - the governing body - somehow has managed to find a way to create/grow human clones in labs two at a time. Every set of twins (or Alts) are separated at birth (hatching?) and each baby is raised by a different family. They never meet until the time comes for them to hunt down and kill their clone upon their activation. You see, the Board teaches that the survival of Kersh depends upon the strength of its population, so only those who kill their Alts are worthy of living there. This world-building is interesting, but it left me hungering for more. It seemed like there were holes in the story and zip-aheads (you know, when you fast forward in time - roll with it) that confused me a bit. When it came to other aspects of the story, I could suspend disbelief enough to believe Kersh wanted to be a land of killers, but I wanted to read more about why the Board activated certain individuals when they did. I also wish there would have been more showing of the parents and how they dealt with the loss of one child, but having another walking around, genetically the same.

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.

3.5/5 Stars

*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.

By Michelle @ In Libris Veritas 25 Mar 2013 4

Dualed introduces us to a world that has been ravaged by war and a city that has managed to close itself off as a safe haven, but the price for this is extremely high. Everyone is expected to be the best solider they can be just in case something happens to that wall that protects them, and so the concept of Alternates comes in. Two versions of the same person, and like the ever famous quote from Highlander 'there can only be one'.

This turned out to be a great debut and a rather interesting dystopian. Unlike other dystopians this doesn't focus on a main character working to bring down the government or some 'big bad', instead it focuses on a girl who simply wants to survive her accepted way of life. I personally get a bit tired of every day teens dismantling governments and I just want to see how people cope and deal with what they've been forced into, and that's exactly what West does. When we meet her West has already been through so much and she hasn't even been assigned to kill her alt yet, I thought that the opening chapter was very strong. The world building that Chapman does in the first few chapters is very solid and gives that emotional understanding of exactly what kind of place she's in and just what she's going to have to deal with. The introduction of the Strikers, hired alt killers, is something I could totally see happening if something like this ever occurred and kind of brought about a bit of moral turmoil for me. I couldn't decide if it was a good thing because it saved people from doing something terrible or if it was just as bad because someone is still having to die.

West is a tough girl, but she's also still just a fifteen year old girl. She makes mistakes, sometimes she's too stubborn, and most of all she's conflicted. She knows what she needs to do and she's always thought she was prepared for it, but when the time comes she finds herself unsure and at times she makes some really bad choices. The hunt that happens between her and her Alt was really intense at times and kept me guessing on how it was all going to end. I would have loved to see more about West's Alt, because while we get to know her a bit it's not enough to truly compare her to West. Chord I felt probably could have been fleshed out a tad more but I enjoyed his loyalty to West, despite her constant attempts to push him away and refuse his help.

The ending wraps up nicely and i was a bit worried that I wouldn't be able to see more of West or the city of Kersh, but I found out that there will be a second book called Divided. So I'm super curious as to what will happen next because I honestly don't know but I have a few hopes for it. Overall this turned out to be a pretty solid debut and I'm looking froward to more from Chapman.

By Emz Chang 25 Mar 2013 4

In the city of Kersh, everyone has an Alt, short for alternative. An Alt, is exactly what it sounds like. An Alt, is an Alternate you. A twin that you never know. A twin you have to kill to prove your worth. To prove that you deserve to live, that you are the better copy of yourself. In DUALED, West Grayer, struggles with the concept of having an Alt, and having to kill her. She has trained her whole life for the day when she will get her assignment. The test that will prove her worthiness to continue living in Kersh. But she knows, you can train your body and maybe your mind. But it is hard to train your emotions, especially when something tragic just occurred.

DUALED had me at the very beginning. I was thrust into a world I knew little about, and began to start collecting the facts right away. Elsie Chapman wrote an effective introduction. She had West began narrating what was going on, and give the reader some action at the same time. Needless to say, I was NOT bored. Within the first few chapters, someone had already died. In DUALED, West experiences a few flashbacks and has short flashes of memories of the past. What someone said, or who the car originally belonged to. And little by little, those tiny flashes, start giving you a hint about West's childhood, her family, and what happened to them.

The plot was very fast paced. It started out really fast. I wondered how Elsie Chapman would take it from there. How can you continue the build suspense after you kill a character? I was not disappointed. Throughout the story, there were various amounts of action. Sometimes there wasn't much, just West reminiscing on the past and what could have been. Other times, she was out there kicking a whole lot of butt. It kept me wanting to see what would happen next, yet provided me with some time to relax and truly understand what was going on in the story.

I have mixed feelings about West. At first, I liked her. Okay, maybe she was a bit hot headed, and stubborn, but overall she was likable. You could understand why she was acting the way she was. I felt that West started out strong and then became weaker. There were times when I felt like yelling at her "Why are you doing this? Stop and think!" However, I do understand why she did those certain things. I can't imagine living in a society like the one West lives in. For her, it is literally, kill or be killed. That's the difference between life or death. It makes you question your morals. Is it worth taking someone else's life just to save yours? West was able to keep me guessing what she would do next. She was kind of unpredictable with her emotions all out of whack. I would say she managed to redeem herself at the end.

The romance. What can I say about the romance? Only that it was interesting to read about and maybe that I wish there was more... Oh well, I hear there are more books to come. (The amount in this book is just fine but...) One can only hope. West's love interest is Chord. He is not as well developed as West, but he doesn't need to be. Chord is like the perfect boyfriend. More like the best friend turned boyfriend. The one that seems to be protective and still give you some space. The one that understands.

*NOTE: I received this book as an Ambuzzador for Random Buzzers. This in no way effected by opinion.

Originally posted at Icy Cold Reads.

Review quote

Library Media Connection "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."