Series: Dualed #1
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: February 26, 2013
Source/Format: Netgalley (Thanks Random House!) || e-galley
[I received this book from the publisher. This in no way affects the thoughts expressed in my review.]
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.(from Goodreads)
Dualed appealed to me with its interesting premise, epic cover and engaging summary; I anticipated being able to start this story right away. Unfortunately, while I did manage to read this book fairly quickly and keep my focus on it, it definitely left me feeling disappointed that it didn’t live up to its full potential.
As always, here are the things about this book that I liked and the ones that I didn’t, all written up in the form of a list.
What I Liked
The concept was interesting. I found so much promise in the world and society of Kersh, particularly in how there are neighborhoods with varying reputations, and some interesting organizations running the show. There was also something intriguing in the idea of Alts – a person who shares your genetic makeup raised in an entirely different family, who you eventually have to kill to prove that you’re worthy to live. And the idea of a Striker – a person paid to assassinate another person’s Alt – definitely secured my interest in this book. I do love the variety of ideas introduced in this book, but we’ll come back to this later.
The first few chapters of this book reeled me in. Even though I had no idea what was going on or what the world was like yet, I loved being thrust into the action. It was pretty rad that I felt invested in what happened to West, Chord + Luc, even though I’d literally just met them. I think it had a lot to do with the gravity of the situation they were in. These first few chapters are so good, and I really enjoyed them.
Chord is a promising male lead. Even though he’s not around for much of the story, I definitely liked what I got to see of Chord. He seems like such a good friend, and is someone that I thought West could trust and rely on to have her back. His fierce need to protect West and his obvious concern and care and feelings for her really had me interested in him. I think there’s true potential for readers to fall for him the more we get to know him – and not just because West feels that way about him.
What I Didn’t Like
The execution of the concepts was rushed and lacking. And now, we’ve come full circle back to this. While there was really a lot of promise, I felt like the execution could have been improved. The world was basically just shown in passing, mostly while West moves from one neighborhood to the next. And the big organized groups – like the government and the Strikers – remained a mystery to me, in terms of structure, rules and goals. Since this is a series, I’m fairly certain we’ll learn more about these things in the next book. But since this is the first book, I do think it would have been fair to get a little more knowledge of the world and society.
What’s up with the Alts? We were barely told anything about Alts, and I feel like there could be a sinister, bigger explanation for why they truly exist (like an army to defeat some as yet unknown enemy, or for genetic manipulation or something). I really wanted to understand what purpose they played. Was it a prelude to senseless violence? A test or initiation? Preparation for war in the future? Though we are told that this is the system to weed out the strongest/worthiest of living, I still feel like that’s not enough of a reason to content my inquisitive mind.
The romance broke my heart – and it wasn’t pretty. The romance is pretty cute – I mean, West does fall for someone she’s known her whole life, which I’m definitely a fan of. But seriously, I felt pushed into feeling it (because it happened to abruptly. Then again, they are in a life-or-death situation…). And plus, the way West treats Chord is no way to treat the boy that you’re supposedly in love with.
And then there was West. I really, really wanted to love West, but I feel like I really didn’t get the opportunity to know her. She reacts to a certain situation early on in the book, and I felt like I was supposed to sympathize with her – but I couldn’t because I wasn’t “acquainted” with who she was. I just wanted to toss things at her, tell her to get a backbone and FIGHT for her life. I truly think she would be an interesting character, but her conflict in characteristics just made her annoying in my eyes. Even though she kind of bucks up towards the end, it was too little, too late.
Dualed has a lot of elements that show promise, but unfortunately, I felt like the execution and the world-building could still be improved. I still think the author has a very unique idea, and that the writing was nice (since I felt like I was drawn into reading and finding out about what happened to West even though I didn’t care much for her as a character), but this book just fell short of my expectations. I’m still unsure as to whether I’d continue on with this series, but if I did, I hope that we learn more about Kersh and the neighborhoods, as well as the Alts and Strikers. Oh, and that we see more of Chord too!