Author: Elsie Chapman
Series: Dualed #1
Genre: Teen Dystopian
Rating: 2.5/5 stars
The Overview: 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.
I’d been eyeballing Dualed for about a year before I actually picked it up. I almost snagged a copy right when it came out but held off because of some negative reviews. Then Divided (book 2) popped up on my radar a year later and I decided to take a risk and give Dualed a try despite poor initial feedback. I liked it for the most part, but there’s something to be said for the overall opinion of the masses. I’m not saying the majority is always right, but with an obscure title like this, they are accurate more often than not. Maybe I should’ve listened, but on occasion I find a book I love despite public opinion so I decided to read it anyway. It was entertaining, but I have some disclaimers:
You see, it was kind of a depressing. I understand and even expect bad things to happen in dystopian societies, but I also expect some small glimmer of hope to help pull me through all the grit. As the entire plot of Dualed centered around two “twins” endlessly striving to destroy one another, that ray of hope was awfully hard to come by. Either the main character has to kill someone or be killed herself. Not exactly a cheerful concept. But not that it needed to be, although I did find myself craving a bit more balance.
To that end, I think the author should have considered lightening the mood during the slow bits with some subtle humor – it would’ve gone a long way towards making her characters more likable, thereby making the highs and lows of the story more intense. Instead, it was one-note, and that note was depressing. I ended up looking to the competition element to pull me through the story. It was a decent battle, but I would’ve loved to see an infusion of even more intelligence, strategy, and skill into the main character – kind of like what we saw with June in the Legend series.
I think it would be accurate to say that every aspect of the book left me wanting, some a bit more than others. It wasn’t a bad book by any means, I was just able to identify several specific ways I thought it could be better. I liked it enough to pick up the second book, but ended up setting it aside because it took an even darker turn than the first one and I wasn’t in the mood for that type of story.
In the whole scheme of dystopian books, this one wasn’t one of my favorites, but it definitely wasn’t one of the worst. I’d say if you’re interested in the premise and kind of know what to expect going in, I think you’ll probably enjoy it. I may go back and finish the second book someday, but at the moment it’s not a priority.
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