Dualed, Elsie Chapman (Dualed #1)
Published February 26th 2013 by Random House
Source: ARC won from the amazing Cuddlebuggery
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.
This was an intense read! First thing to know is that the people of Kersh are sterile. To start a family a couple has to go to The Board where a test tube baby is created from this couple and from the next couple to come in. Both mothers are then impregnated with a genetically identical baby. So each child born has genetic Alternate –and each set of parents knows that their child will kill or be killed by this Alternate one day. WTF.
I basically had to block that background out to be able to get into Dualed. How could you choose to have a child that has to fight to his or her death before the age of 21?
So put all that aside and accept that 15 year-old West is just waiting for the day she is notified its time to kill her Alt- or be killed. Kersh needs to have only the strongest survive so that if the city is attacked from The Surround the military is prepared.
This book was cold! Deaths were happening around West all the time and it seemed as though people never even looked up. West is surrounded by ghosts. Her parents are gone, her siblings have been dying off one at a time as well as her friends. You kind of have to feel for her right away because she has nearly no one else. While West has lived her life knowing she has to fight to the death, she’s still not anything like a teenage assassin nun. She’s a pretty normal girl who is just trying to figure out how to live. She acts based on her feelings and she doesn’t always make the best decisions.
I struggled a little bit with the romance in this book. I didn’t feel it at the beginning, then all of a sudden BAM – West is supposed to have this deep love for her brother’s best friend Chord. I wanted something more to see where that love came from or some history. I would have liked to see West’s Alt herself more. Maybe it would have humanized her too much? It definitely would have made this a more emotional read.
In the end, I was totally invested in West and her fight to stay alive. I would give Dualed 3 stars, but I say suspend your disbelief and start reading. I stayed up until midnight to read this just so I could start Divided, the sequel, on my morning commute. Divided was even better! Stop now if you don’t want spoilers.
Here’s my review:
Divided, Elsie Chapman (Dualed #2)
Published May 27th 2014 by Random House Books for Young Readers
The hunter becomes the hunted. . . .
West Grayer is done killing. She defeated her Alternate, a twin raised by another family, and proved she’s worthy of a future. She’s ready to move on with her life.
The Board has other plans. They want her to kill one last time, and offer her a deal worth killing for. But when West recognizes her target as a ghost from her past, she realizes she’s in over her head. The Board is lying, and West will have to uncover the truth of the past to secure her future.
How far will the Board go to keep their secrets safe? And how far will West go to save those she loves?
While West hasn’t fully recovered from the experiences she had leading up to killing her Alt she does think she’s done with the Board. She has a job and is living her dream of art school. She’s also in therapy to try to close the door on what she’s done and find some peace to move forward. She’s a much more mature character than we followed in Dualed. West is done with killing-and then she gets an offer that she really can’t refuse.
West really tries to go it alone on this, but I was so glad she wasn’t as martyring as some heroines can be (cough cough Tris) and that she chose to go to Chord and to her friends for help. I was so intrigued by Baer and Dire in Dualed so I was really glad to get their history and to see them in action. I was half in love with Chord myself by the end of this book! He was fantastic. Not an overbearing love interest, just kick ass in his own way.
We finally get the history of Kersh so I while I still didn’t like what was going on in Chapman’s world, I felt a bit less confused while reading and I was better able to just read without questioning. I still didn’t love that part of it-but it was easier to just go with it with some background.
The action did not stop until the book ended and I was tense the whole time. Fans of the Divergent series or Hunger Games should definitely check these out. West felt so much more more real than Katniss or Tris did to me.
Thank you Random House Children’s and NetGalley for this advance copy in exchange for an honest opinion!