Review: Dualed

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: DualedDualed by Elsie Chapman
Series: Dualed #1
Published by Random House BFYR on February 26, 2013
Genres: Adventure, Dystopian, Romance, Science Fiction
Pages: 292
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher

In the city of Kersh, everyone must eliminate their genetic Alternate twin, raised by another family, before their twentieth birthday. West Grayer, 15, has trained as a fighter, and has one month to hunt and kill her Alt. A tragic misstep shakes her confidence. Guilty, grieving, she feels unworthy, runs from her Alt and from love - both can destroy her.

First Sentence: “I’ve buried nearly everyone I love.”

Dualed is a book that I wanted as soon as I heard the summary. When I saw that cover, which is practically perfect in every way, my desire for Dualed kicked into high gear. Thankfully, I was able to finagle myself an ARC, because I really wanted to be able to review it for Dystopian August. I was actually really afraid that this one was going to be a big disappointment, because, let’s face it, there are a lot of those in the dystopian genre. Thankfully, I really enjoyed Dualed, one of those books that’s pretty hard to put down because the action never stops

Ordinarily, I like to start my reviews with what I did like about the book. With Dualed, however, I feel the need to start with the negative. The reason for that is that I think you need to be warned, so that you can mentally prepare yourself and just enjoy all the things Dualed does well, rather than getting hung up on this aspect.

The world building in Dualed is a bit laughable. I mean, it just does not make sense. Here’s the thing: I love the idea of the alts and the kids having to kill someone with their face, and the city is creepy and atmospheric. That’s all great. However, despite the blurb of description telling me how this came about, I’m really not buying society ever evolving into this, especially as a way of averting and preparing for war. I’m also not convinced on the science behind alts either.

One of the things I couldn’t help wondering about within the context of this world was what happens when your alt dies as an AK (accidental killing during someone else’s completion, aka killing their own alt) or of a disease. If that happens, does the remaining alt get a free pass? Besides, I imagine that often both alts are powerful and clever or both are wimpy and useless. Why get rid of one of each set when that doesn’t necessarily seem like it will do the best Darwinist job? Wouldn’t you be better off sticking all of the kids in an arena and making them kill each other until a specified number remain?

Anyway, enough of that. I just wanted to warn you to not think too much about the why and how of this society and to just suspend your disbelief. Besides that, I had no problems with Dualed. I was completely caught up in the story. There is so much action and excitement. Chapman builds up tension really well. Even though I knew that certain outcomes were guaranteed, I was still super concerned at the ending that things would not turn out okay. Partially, this suspense is maintained by the fact that Chapman definitely proves herself one of the awesome authors not afraid to have good people die in nasty ways.

Connecting with West took me a little while. She’s one of the most emotionally closed off heroines I’ve encountered, reminding me most strongly of Trella from Inside Out and Outside In. Almost all of West’s family has died, either killed by their alts, by accident or through even more painful methods. This has left West with serious trust issues: getting close to someone can only increase your pain when they die or their pain when you die. The more I got to know her, though, the more I liked her and sympathized with her. Though Dualed is not at all about being a typical teenager, her fear of not being good enough is one to which every reader can relate. Much as I came to care for and worry about West, I did still sometimes want to shake her, because she makes stupid decisions. They’re the kind I would probably make too, blinded by the fear and pain of the moment, but I wish I could spare her that.

What I found especially interesting about West was that she was not an especially strong or weak character; so many YA heroines are either completely useless or total badasses. She comes off as a fairly ordinary (not in personality, but in physical ability) person doing what she has to. Though she’s nice and has had her family decimated by this world, she becomes a striker, an assassin to kill the alts of others. She does this to practice for when she has to battle her own alt, since she does not feel at all prepared. She’s fairly good at striking (though not a prodigy), but she still falls to pieces in the face of, well, her own face. I really do love the idea of having to fight a physical manifestation of your personal demons. Could you kill someone with your face?

My favorite character, though, was definitely Chord. He is definitely one of the YA heroes we should all be squeeing over. Though he does have some stalkerish tendencies, I believe them to be solely because to help West become a Complete, to help her kill her alt. Aside from following her to help keep her from dying, West is pretty hands off. He gives her the space she wants when he can, he doesn’t press his feelings on her, he gives her money and medical care, and he doesn’t give up on her. Chord is a steady, reliable presence, not commanding like most YA guys. He is sweet and also, for bonus points, a tech nerd. Be still my heart, because a guy who says stuff like the quote below? The best kind of guy.

Dualed is an action-packed thrill ride that will be perfect for fans of The Hunger Games or Divergent who are willing to overlook some weakness in world building in exchange for adventure and drama. Dualed definitely focuses on action, though there is some romance and even some humor.

Favorite Quote:

“‘I don’t want to have to save your life,’ Chord says softly. ‘Not when you can do it.'”

18 responses to “Review: Dualed”

  1. Lilian says:

    “kids having to kill someone with their face”
    literally (do I kill someone if I glare at them long enough)? or metaphorically?

    And then I skimmed the rest because Dualed is on my anticipated reads. Chord does sound juicy though *o*


    • Christina says:

      LITERALLY. Also, somewhat metaphorically, because that’s a really interesting right of passage. But, really, they kill someone who looks just like them.


    • Lilian says:

      Interesting. You can’t even throw insults like “YOU UGLY FACE!!”
      But really, I do think fighting someone that looks just like me would be a problem since I imagine myself to be so much more pretty than I really am…so it won’t be a problem.


    • Christina says:

      That would be one way: confuse them with your insults that also apply to you (except not because obviously you are better looking!) so that they let down their guard and you can murder their face.


    • Lilian says:

      Sounds like a plan! Let me take advantage of my own insecurities and murder my face that isn’t really my face! I am brilliant.

      YES I LOVE ART, but only pretty kinds. But I meant “galley.” Hmph, I should’ve just said ARC instead. I can’t even correct typos here (which, obviously didn’t happen…but you know.)

    • Christina says:

      Very clever. They will never see that coming. ‘My feet are ugly? Damnit! I always knew that. Wahhhhh!’ *is murdered*

      Right. Typo? What typo?

  2. Thanks for heads up about world-building, Christina! I’m looking forward to this one, but it does piss me off that the authors often feel like they don’t need to invest into a believable world. This is not a movie, folks! You can’t blind us with special effects and hope for the best. We have time to think when we’re reading. *sigh* Awesome review as usual!

    • Christina says:

      The world building didn’t bother me too much, because I enjoyed everything else. So, if you just laugh to yourself when it’s ‘explained’ and then sit back and accept it, Dualed is a really fun read!

  3. Lynn K. says:

    Words cannot describe how jealous I am of you. February is SO FAR AWAY AHHHH. The cover is so gorgeous and with a synopsis like that…is it Feb 26th yet?!

    Thanks for the review and heads up regarding the iffy world building. I’m usually not that bothered about a dodgy world building as long as the characters/events keep me on my seat. We’ll see. 🙂

  4. I think I found out about this book from someone’s WoW post. It sounds good, and your review does, too. It just makes me wonder if there’s a trend in the most recent YA books having a skilled fighter/assassin as the main character. There was Katsa from Graceling, of course Katniss Everdeen, then The Hunger Games because a huge success, and in more recent/upccoming books we have Caelena (Selena?) from The Throne of Glass; the MC in Stormdancer; and now this West girl. I much appreciate a heroine who can defend herself, but all these similarities make me wonder if publishers are trying to recreate THG’s success, and that’s why books with apparent affinities end up being published so close to each other.

    • Christina says:

      Well, West is a little different. She isn’t insanely skilled, like the others. She is more like a normal person who’s been trained up. She still makes stupid mistakes a lot.

      Well, I think Graceling came out around the same time as THG, and certainly before it took off. There certainly are more kick butt female heroines these days, though, which is probably partly because of THG, since pubs know people like that now.

  5. I’ll suspend belief and probably love this one. It’s been on my radar for a while.

    Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog

  6. Michelle and I discuss this one at the end of the months and I loved reading your thoughts on it. Chord = YUM! Definitely a Peeta type 🙂

  7. aLilLacey says:

    I’m normally open to crazy ideas and concepts in books but this does sound a little bizarre. If for some reason society did lose their marbles and have twins of every one then why wouldn’t they kill off the weaker person themselves rather than risking the beret twin being killed by the bad twin. Strange. I’d still maybe give the book a go and give it a chance though.

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