Title: Dualed (#1)
Author: Elsie Chapman
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
February 26th, 2013
Age Group: YA
Source: ARC provided by the publisher
Every person in the city of Kersh has a genetic Alternate–but only one will survive! Dun dun dun. At the age of fifteen, West Grayer has just been notified of her Alt’s location, and it’s a race against the clock to find and eliminate her…before she herself is killed.
I really enjoy YA science fiction, so Dualed by Elsie Chapman is right up my alley. Who wouldn’t be intrigued by a concept like that? The blurb sold it to me, and I’m guessing it will hook a lot of other readers, too. I thought this was a pretty entertaining story, though I did have a few reservations.
What I liked:
— West. Instead of being a more typical butt-kicking heroine, she’s just an ordinary girl–albeit one well-trained to fight–who is placed in circumstances where she has to kill in order to survive.
— The narrative. I liked being in West’s head, and her internal dialogue was written in a way that gave insight into emotions she was hiding from everyone else.
— The suspenseful cat-and-mouse aspect of West and her Alt hunting each other down kept me guessing.
— The book is well-paced overall, with good tension and release.
— Kersh is described in a way that felt reasonably solid in a physical sense, if not overly complex in its philosophies and structure.
— Some of the fight sequences were really, really fun! A lot of thought was put into the choreography of the movements, as well as sensory details that added to the experience.
What could have been further developed:
— The secondary characters, particularly the Alts, are pretty one-dimensional. Aren’t West and Chord also Alts themselves, after all? It would have been interesting to have more nuanced antagonists.
— While a certain amount of suspension of belief is certainly required in science fiction that is centered around a concept like this, there aren’t really enough convincing explanations as to why there are Alts, what purpose they serve, how all this is administered, why the second one has to be killed, etc.
— I didn’t really understand West becoming a striker, which are assassins hired by the rich and powerful. It happens pretty early on in the book, and the scenes where West is acting in this capacity are among my least favorite. They are where she seems the most lost, and where her actions (or lack of them) are the least understandable.
— West and Chord have known each other all their lives, so I wish there had been more shared history or feeling there. The connection between them didn’t seem any stronger than that between two strangers who had just met.
— A little more humor, and dialogue that was a little punchier, would have made the characters more relateable–and endearing.
— A few important scenes could have been written with an aim towards greater emotional impact.
All that said, this one definitely satisfies if you’re looking for a fast-paced, suspenseful read. I literally read it in a day, which is a statement in itself of its high entertainment factor! I’ll also read the sequel when it comes out next year, although it’s with the hope that some of the logic questions and character development are addressed. Fun stuff, if you can suspend your disbelief for a bit.
This review also appears on GoodReads. An advance copy was provided by the publisher.
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Open internationally to readers aged 18 and older, or 13 and older with parental permission.