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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Review: Dualed by Elsie Chapman

Publisher: Random House
Published: February 26, 2013
Pages: 304
Source: Won from Novel Sounds
Rating: 1.5 Stars

You or your Alt? 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.
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.

In short: Unfortunately, I could not get past Dualed's completely ridiculous concept and world building and was not able to enjoy the story.
Get a load of this concept: When a cold vaccine causes infertility in the human race, the city of Kersh is established as a safe haven for the remaining members of humanity. It is decided that the best way to ensure that humans evolve to be a superior race for their protection is to create, via gene manipulation, two of every person and then have each person fight their twin, or Alt, to the death in an ultimate test of the survival of the fittest. Only then can they prove that they are worthy members of society. Between the ages of 10 and 20, twins are given their assignment to hunt down and kill their Alt before 31 days are over. If 31 days are up are neither twin has killed their Alt, they are both killed.

I knew going into Dualed that as entertaining and thrilling as the concept is, Elsie Chapman was going to have to come up with a pretty dang good explanation as to how this particular dystopian world came to be. And unfortunately, the explanation of getting children to fight their twin in a battle to the death to create a superior race? That's just dumb. And it makes no sense whatsoever. It would not create a population of superior people; it would create a population of violent, disturbed nut jobs. And even if it did make sense, or if the real reason was to create a population of soldiers, it would be an incredibly inefficient way of going about it.

Kersh is described as a "safe haven". This statement is BEYOND ridiculous. Kersh couldn't possibly be further from the description of a safe haven. Because in reality, Kersh has a murder rate of at least 50% with COUNTLESS of innocent bystanders getting killed in the crossfire. There are no gun restrictions either; anyone can just walk into a gun shop and buy whatever they need to kill their Alt. Citizens are encouraged by The Board to try to avoid killing bystanders when hunting for their Alt, but when you put dangerous weapons into the hands of desperate children, it will never end well. I could not for the life of me understand how the citizens of Kersh could be so stupid and idle; why almost no one seems to question the system and revolt against the government is beyond me.

I wanted to like West, Dualed's protagonist, but ultimately, I could not get behind a character who murders countless of people (children, really) for money and feels very little guilt over it. You see, after West loses every single member in her family to senseless killing, she decides the best way to deal with this and fight the system is to become a hired assassin - someone who offs other people's Alts for a price - and to continue senselessly killing other people! UGH, I can't even. And I was so disappointed that West never even has that realization, that what The Board is doing is utter BS, and pledges to fight the system in an actually legitimate way that makes sense. But she never once questions or fights what The Board does to its citizens.

Unfortunately, I could just not get past the complete ridiculousness of the concept and this severely affected my enjoyment of Dualed. Notice however, that even after learning of the explanation of the premise in the beginning of the story, I continued to read Dualed to the end. This is mostly because I find myself unable to DNF books, but also partly because for what it's worth, Dualed was a thrilling read. I will say that Elsie Chapman seems to be a gifted thriller/suspense writer. I would recommend Dualed to people who are looking for a fast-paced thriller and are willing to just roll with the story and not ask any serious questions about the world building.

Other Reviews:
Alexa Loves Books
Alluring Reads
Taking It One Page at a Time

Authors Links:


  1. I'm sorry this one didn't work for you! I've heard similar complaints, and it's what's preventing me from reading it for myself. I just don't think I'd be down with the lackluster wordbuilding, even if the writing is thrilling. And I'm like you, I have a really hard time DNFing, so I feel like I'd be annoyed at all the wasted reading time. Wonderful review, thanks for your honesty and thoughtfulness!

  2. I've been seeing a lot of really mixed reviews on this book. It seems to be one of those that you either REALLY like or you REALLY don't like. Like Lauren this is what is keeping me from reading this book. Thank you for your honest opinion of this book.

  3. Ha I didn't even think about all the stuff you said about the city supposedly being a "safe haven" but you're totally right, that is really ridiculous. I did find little elements of the plot that I enjoyed and I breezed through it really fast so I did enjoy it a bit more than you but totally agree that the world building just wasn't there. Fabulous review, Aylee!

  4. The reviews for this book seem to be WIDELY varied, probably the most varied I've seen since The Selection:) All these differing opinions have me really curious though. I do think the lack of explanation for the world and the reasoning behind killing one's twin to make a better world would present a bit of a challenge for me, but I think I still want to give this one a whirl. I'm glad to have read your thoughts upfront though Aylee!!!

  5. Aw, I'm so sorry you didn't like this book! It seems to be getting heaps of mixed reviews lately. Many people said the same thing about West. Thanks for your honest review!

  6. I don't think I'm the sort of reader who can just get through something without questioning every aspect. It's a shame the world-building and explanations here were so poorly put to use. It looks like most people have been feeling the same way about this book. :( I think I'll skip it now. Thanks for the helpful review!

  7. Oh, how disappointing. This one seemed like it had a lot of potential, but the world building sounds so weak....thanks for your honest thoughts!

  8. I haven't been all the interested in reading this book because the premise does sounds really silly. Looks like it doesn't really recover. It's to bad though. Perhaps the author's next venture will be more successful.

  9. Aw, sorry that the explanations and world building didn't do it for you. I had been excited for this one, but have read so many that say great premise but poor execution.
    Hope your next read is better.

    Brandi @ Blkosiner’s Book Blog

  10. Oh dear... Aylee... this... I wasn't QUITE sure of the basis for the premise, but... when you put it like that? They're trying to create a superior race? Erm, I'm with you on this: "It would not create a population of superior people; it would create a population of violent, disturbed nut jobs."

    You're creating a race of better murderers... I'd be very curious about what they'd be doing in terms of creating a future generation of psycopaths and mentally ill people... I... hmph.

  11. Hmm, not excited about the broken world-building. It doesn't seem to make much sense at all. It sucks that you didn't enjoy this one.

  12. I'm sorry you didn't like it. I had considered reading this for a while - because I thought the alt thing could work, but the way you describe it it does sound ridiculous. If it were something that just happens naturally like in Sabrina the Teenage Witch then I would have been okay with it but nope the way the word is constructed.

    Sorry, I hope your next read it's tons better.

  13. Wow, Wow and Wow! When you view at the book from your perspective, I look back in retrospect and wonder why I even liked it. You bring out some very excellent points to support your stance. I especially like how you say the murder rate is 50% so it can't possibly be a safe haven. After reading your review, I guess I'm one of those readers who just didn't have to have the world building make sense - probably because I just never really thought as deeply as you did about it - mainly because I didn't understand it like you did (lol). My biggest problem with the story was I couldn't connect to West, especially in the beginning, in fact, I didn't even know she was female for a while.

  14. I love the concept of the book and I think that it is such an awesome idea but, the reviews I have read many people haven't liked it. But, your review has given me a lot to think about because despite all the negative reviews I am so curious about this one. Thanks for your thoughts!

    Kristin @ Young Adult Book Haven

  15. Boo. I wanted this one so badly, but then the reviews started coming in and now I wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole. Honestly, I'm all about the worldbuilding, and this one sounds utterly nonsensical. Plus, the heroine? Seriously, that's her way to cope?
    I give up. I'm removing this one from my tbr entirely. Thank you.

  16. What a shame. I was so psyched to read this book, but after reading all the negative reviews, I can't say I'll ever pick it up. Just like you said, this world makes absolutely no sense, and that would frustrate me beyond belief. Sorry you didn't like it Aylee. Great review!

  17. That really is unfortunate that the execution of Dualed is so at odds with its premise. From the few examples you provided here, I'm pretty sure I would not be a fan of Dualed either. Hopefully Chapman will work on world-building in the next book in this series, or stick to more believable thrillers in her future works.

  18. I wasn't very happy with Dualed either. I liked the action but just couldn't support West's decisions and the worldbuilding. Ridiculous concept is right, Aylee!

  19. I think this review has finally given me the strength to just skip this one. I wanted it to work so badly, but the plot just sounds more and more ludicrous each time I read a review. I'm like you, I have a hard time DNFing books, so I'd be mad at wasting the time. It is nice that the author is gifted at writing thrilling scenes, though. Hopefully her next book will take place in a less ridiculous world. Thanks for your thoughtful and honest review! :-)

  20. Like you, world-building is a big deal for me, so I think your review is 100% justifiable. While I was initially interested in the idea of every person having an Alt., you're right that the rest of what goes on here is pretty ridiculous: having to kill your Alt. or be killed o.O And I don't like how the MC deals with her 'issues' either, doesn't sound like the kind of protag I could identify with - and THAT is another big deal for me! Thanks for your honesty Aylee & for sharing another well-written review :)

  21. I haven't read this book but it seems to be a love it or hate for most people.

    If they can create twins of everyone then what's the problem? Fertility wouldn't be an issue. I don't get it lol Maybe I have to read it for it to make sense (or not since it never really did for you)

  22. I think Dualed is an excellent dystopian/sci-fi novel, which challenges your beliefs of what it is to be human, and an individual. I highly recommend this book for people who've enjoyed The Hunger Games, Partials and some Philip K. Dick titles.

    The book leaves a lot of open-ended questions, which I look forward to Elsie answering in the sequel.

    Ketterman Rowland & Westlund