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I Belong

Early Review: Dualed by Elsie Chapman

Title: Dualed

Author: Elsie Chapman

Genre: YA Dystopian

Series: Dualed (Book 1)

Publication Date: February 23, 2013

Format: Hardcover, 304 Pages

ISBN-10: 0307931544 (Random House)

ISBN-13: 978-0307931542 (Random House)

Reviewed by: Kayla


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.

Quick & Dirty: A society pits yourself vs. yourself to breed a city of fighters in a war no one really knows about.

Opening Sentence: I’ve buried nearly everyone I love.

Excerpt: No

The Review:

What would you do if you had to fight yourself to stay alive? Everyone in Kersh has a twin: an exact look-alike with the same mannerisms but grew up in a different home. Sometime when you’re 10 years old to 21 years old, you will be activated. The Board (government) will knock on your door, your eyes will have an activation sequence that is the same as your Alt’s, and you have exactly 31 days to find him/her and kill them. West Grayer has lost her whole family. Her mother was killed in a car accident, her father committed suicide afterwards, and her brother and sister were killed by their Alts. But then a freak accident occurs, and she’s alone. Except for her and her brother’s best friend Chord. Almost a month later, West is activated. And she’s on the run. She’s spent her whole life training for this moment, imagining exactly what she’ll do the moment the activation sequence is alive in her eyes. But now she’s not sure. Is she actually ready to kill her Alt? Is she ready to keep Chord as far away as possible so she doesn’t risk his life? Is she worthy enough to win?

I had high expectations for this book. And I’m sorry to say that it let me down. The beginning was slow and there was hardly any world-building throughout the book. Granted, the story picked up towards the end of the middle (did you follow that?), but the entire story is a whole whopping of run, close call, run, close call, run. Any world-building or description of the outside world was told in the beginning and left there, never to be brought up again. I want to know more about this war that has the city preparing all of its citizens as soldiers. I want to know more about the Board and how they became in charge. I hope that some of these questions will be answered in the sequel, but at least give us readers a hint to hold on to. By the end of the book, I totally forgot about the war. I gave up on questioning the Board because West wasn’t questioning them. It was all very anti-climactic and didn’t have the drive every good story should have.

So with the plot disappointing me, I turned to the characters. And the more I thought about them, the more I realized that there is hardly any development/set up for them. Every single character was static. West was the only dynamic character, and it was a good change. She’s a strong heroine that has to overcome her own personal emotions in order to overcome the physical conflict.

I think the main reason I didn’t like this book is because there was only one character arc. Most (and I mean most, not all) YA books have multiple stories and multiple conflicts. Everything in Dualed is focused on West killing her Alt. There is a romantic arc, but it’s poorly developed and almost comes out of nowhere (there are hints throughout the book, but no actual romantic thoughts of Chord from West until BAM they “love” each other).

The ending was the best and most unpredictable part of the book. But overall this was a very disappointing book. Granted, I read an ARC so it can change. But I’m not excited to read the next book. The ending left me satisfied, and with a tinsy-weensy hint of a war in the beginning, I’m not left with a burning passion to find out what happens next. Hopefully the sequel, Divided, will be better than the first.

Notable Scene:

From the moment you get your assignment and you make the decision to run, life changes in the most momentous of ways. It’s no longer a question of what you’re going to do that day, what you’re going to eat, who you’re going to see. It’s how you’re going to survive until the next day comes. That you were stressing out about some exam or essay means nothing. Instead you learn how to be paranoid. You learn to distinguish between the echoes behind you. You learn how to beg and sneak and how to move in the dark.

You learn that you can never go home again. At least, not until you’re complete.

As I near the front of my house, I take a second to make sure there are still no signs of life inside. I can’t go in blind–because it’s my own home, not in spite of it. My house has become a trap, a potential converging point that ninety-seven times out of a hundred is not going to end well for the Alt who comes home. Not leaving is surrender; returning is suicide.

No lights. I have to go for it.

Dualed Series:

1. Dualed (February 23, 2012)

2. Divided (TBA)

FTC Advisory: Random House Books for Young Readers provided me with a copy of Dualed. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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Early Review: Dualed by Elsie Chapman, 10.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
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