Title: Dualed (Dualed #1)
Author: Elsie Chapman
The city of Kresh is a haven, but the price of safety is high. Everyone has an Alternate, a twin raised by another family, and teens must prove their worth by eliminating their Alt before their twentieth birthday. Survival means higher education, a high-paying job, marriage, and better everything. West Grayer has trained as a fighter, preparing for the day when her assignment arrives and she will have one month to kill her Alt. But a tragic misstep shakes West’s confidence. Stricken with grief and guilt, she is no longer sure she is the best version of herself, the one worthy of a future. If she is to win, she must stop running not only from her Alt, but also from love…though both can destroy her.
I picked up this book more on the premise – a city where evey adult is a killer and every kid has to kill their identical twin – than anything. I wasn’t too thrilled about the “shaken confidence” part or the romance, but I liked the premise enough that I picked it up anyway.
West was interesting. Reckless and boneheaded at times, definately, but she had her heart in the right place, even if her plans were a little flawed. She also had very strong, sometimes confusing emotions – which I can relate to, even though I’ve never had to worry about killing my genetic double. I can’t say I agreed with all her decisions, but I liked her in spite of her issues.
At first, I thought Chord was just West’s brother’s friend. But then I wasn’t sure. I think they might have been friends…? I was never real clear on what their relationship was like before. And that made the romance feel fake and a little forced. It was a nicely done romance, and I think it would have been just fine if their previous relationship would have been clear. (I actually think Chord being a minor character in terms of page time helped this, since the romance part in the first three quarters of the book was West trying to work out her emotions.)
The plot was as good as I expected it to be. It was dark, bloody, chilling, and absolutely amazing. I still find it strange, though, that the biggest element of the plot wasn’t even mentioned in the synopsis. Thst just made it all the more fantastic when I found it – it was an amazing plot element that fit right in with the death-obsessed world.
One huge detail that bugged me was the killing system. It’s mentioned that most families have only two kids. So, say there’s 100 couples. Each of those couples has two kids: 200 kids. Each of those kids has an Alt, so only half of them survive: 100 kids. They grow up, get married, and there’s 50 couples – half as many as there were a generation ago. Add in accidental deaths and collateral damage in Alt killings (I forget what they called that), and I would think the population would be down to 1 in just a few generations.
Another detail that didn’t sit quite right with me was the society’s focus – or it could have just been because of West’s focus, I’m not sure. But I felt like the society was more focused on the killing of Alts than anything about the kids who weren’t ready to kill their Alts yet or adults who had already killed theirs.
Dualed is one of those books where I never doubted what the ending was going to be, and I don’t think it was just because I tend to guess these things. Most of the kill-the-Alternate-West plot was waiting for West to get to the program. It wasn’t a big deal for the most part, but every once in a while it got on my nerves.
I loved Dualed when I looked at the big pictue of the plot and characters. But there were a few details that didn’t sit quite right with me. It was good enough that I’d like to read the sequel, Divided, but I think straightening or clarifying a few things would have made it much better.
The Dualed series: