Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Review: Dualed by Elsie Chapman

From Goodreads: 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. 

My Rating: 2 hearts 

Thoughts on the Novel: I love finding out about new Canadian authors. So, when I discovered that Elsie Chapman’s Dualed was available on NetGalley, I requested it. The synopsis sounded fantastic, and I thought that West and her Alt would become BFFs and try to bring down Kersh’s government together (or something like that). Yeah … not so much! What I got was a story with ridiculous worldbuilding, a protagonist that was hard to like, and a plot with very little substance.

In Dualed, the gated city of Kersh attempts to protect its citizens from the violence of the world outside by isolating them and making itself self-sufficient. In case the Surround does decide to attack Kersh though, the Board – which we get very little information about – ensures that every adult living in the city is capable of becoming a soldier since they’ve all been trained to kill (and have killed at least their Alt with what appears to be little remorse). Basically, that’s one of the purposes of having Alts; the other is that due to the problem of infertility, the Board wants that only the best version of two couples’ genes survives.

Though there seems to be some discontent with the Board’s system, I personally find it preposterous that most of Kersh’s citizens could be so complacent about having Alts. It’s sickening to imagine that people could be okay with the thought of ten-year-olds possibly killing each other! Also, for a city deemed to be a safe haven, the price of living in it seems awfully high what with all the violence (e.g. Alts killing Alts, Alts hiring strikers, civilians getting caught in the crossfire and becoming Peripheral Kills, etc.) occurring on a daily basis.

Then we have West herself. At the beginning of the book, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for West because she had lost her parents and siblings to violence. However, once West became an active (i.e. she has to kill her own Alt or risk being killed), it became really hard for me to understand her decisions. She freezes up when she’s initially activated (yet had earlier forced her brother’s best friend, Chord, to hunt down his Alt ASAP), pushes Chord away rather than letting him help her, and continues to work as a striker (West figured it would be a good way to get some more training) despite having a target on her back.

The only reason I finished Dualed was because Chapman’s ability to write a thriller was good enough to keep me curious about the ending. I kept waiting to see when West would run into her Alt, but eventually, all that chasing started to feel incredibly pointless. It took far too long to get to the predictable ending!

I’m not sure where the sequel will go since Dualed could have easily been a standalone, but I know I won’t be reading it. I really wanted to love Dualed, but it just ended up being a major disappointment.  

Dualed was released in February 2013 by Random House Books for Young Readers.

Comments About the Cover: I really like the thriller feel to it.

In exchange for an honest review, this book was received from the publisher (Random House) for free via NetGalley.
original image from


  1. I've been having similar issues with my latest reads too, as you can probably tell, with books that just make you feel underwhelmed. I guess I'm looking for something that won't put me to sleep or easily put down. Sorry this one disappointed you so much!

  2. It seems like most people are being disappointed by this, so I guess I'm not surprised to see another 2 star review. It's very rare that I'll enjoy something if I can't connect with the main character. That, coupled with illogical worldbuilding, puts me off completely. Sorry this didn't work for you, Z, but great review as always!

  3. This is the second less-than-impressed review I've read for this book, and you both have really similar complaints about West and her behavior, so that has me thinking this might not be the book for me. I don't like that she gets all over Chord to hunt down his Alt and then freezes up when it comes time for her to do the same thing. I find that irritating:) I'm going to pass I think Z!

  4. I requested a copy of this, and all the negative reviews are making me glad I was refused. I can forgive a lot with world building and even less than great plots, but I need to like the main character. I'm sorry this was such a disappointment for you Z, especially with it being a Canadian author.

  5. Boo! This seems to be the general consesus, and it makes me so sad. I had such high hopes for this one. It always surprises me when citizens just take abuse in dystopias. As a general rule, people are not complacent and quiet, it's just human nature. I'd sooner believe that they'd create riots foolishly.
    Anyway, removing this from my tbr.
    Great review.

  6. I remember there was so much excitement for this book before. Some of the points you brought up do make sense to me, who has not read the book and now I'm not sure I should.

  7. Oh, I know, I had totally been expecting West and her Alt to team up after realizing that the system was total BS and take on the government... what actually happened made no sense and was super disappointing. Preposterous is right! This book just had me so frustrated and that's never a good feeling to have from a book. Ah, oh well - I did really enjoy your review anyways! Really well written.

  8. Uh oh. I also requested this one, and now I'm afraid to start it! West sounds very frustrating, and I'm definitely not into prolonged plotlines. I think I might still read it since I did request it, but I'll have to lower my expectations. Thanks for the candid review, Zahida!

  9. Wow, sorry to hear that it didn't deliver. But, you must be glad you didn't bought a copy of it. :)I hate to waste money.

    Nina@J'adore Happy Endings


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