Friday, February 22, 2013

Review: Dualed by Elsie Chapman

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Elsie Chapman
Genre: YA Dystopian
Publication date: February 26th 2013
by Random House BFYR

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.

-A copy was provided by Random House for review-

Dualed was one of my most anticipated books of this year, as soon as I saw the synopsis I was in. The book itself is entertaining, to say the least. I was easily kept on my toes during this story, it’s just a shame to say that if you stop and think about it for a minute, there is quite a bit of empty space as far as the world building is concerned. The characters as well, left a little too much to be desired.

Dualed introduces us to a a world where they make it so for every person born, another will share the same DNA as a way to get only the best and brightest for their city. Which means one of them has to prove to be the stronger, better Alt. One of them has to survive! Fans of sic fi as much as fans of dystopian novels would get the urge to read a book with such a fascinating premise. Some of it is done quite well, too, like how their system for active Alts is put in place to make the “hunt” exactly that–a hunt. It’s exhilarating and you always feel the need to look over your shoulder. The book is not without excitement and it’s fair share of gore. You have to take it as it comes, however. If you start thinking to much about the ways of their world, how all of this would actually work in a society, you’ll come by a few walls and greyed out areas. For instance, if this world would come to play, I’d presume there would be a constant problem of people–be the parents, or the kids themselves–killing the Alts before they even become active. It’s not hard to make a death look like an accident when kids with guns are flying high in the streets shooting at their alter egos. Where bullet proof glass is needed in establishments because stray bullets are a thing of every day life. Details such as this left this world into a bit of an implausible slur. I’m aware this is a fictional sci-fi novel, but what makes dystopians especially poignant, like The Hunger Games for one, is the realistic setting they’ve been given. Details are fleshed out, every aspect of their world is explored making it easy to get submerged into the novel, but even more important, making it easy to sympathize, to feel the emotional consequences of it all.

West, our protagonist, is a difficult character to talk about because she lands in the middle of about everything. She’s not weak nor tough, she’s not super intelligent nor dumb, she just is. There are some parts where she shows a lot of strength and definite courage, but I was disappointed by her running and hiding once she became active. She could put a bullet into a stranger’s head, yet she turns coward to her own completion. I’m fairly certain we were meant to understand the difference between killing a stranger versus your own face, but that wasn’t communicated to me as a reader. May it be the lack of character or world building, or a simple miss in terms of emotional involvement, it was not made possible for me to put myself in her shoes and understand her hesitations.

Chord, the main supporting character, is the “boy next door” that we all love. It was great to have a character who knew when to leave well enough alone. He knew when he was welcome, and when he was not helping. Though he still found a way to make sure that West was ok. Those looking for a big romantic subplot won’t find it here, however. These two do have a strong bond from being friends for so long, and there is definite attraction there, but the romance is not a part of the book at all. We see a glimpse of it towards the end and that’s that. This is a positive aspect for me, though, since I’ve become a little tired of the cookie cutter romances dystopians often have.

At least, even with the world building issues I had with this novel, there was enough going on to keep most of my questions at bay. The constant moving, running, killings, easily invested me in the plot, making it an easy and quick read through to the end. An end, might I add, that I was really satisfied with. There were great plot shifts that kept it exciting, giving it the perfect pacing, not anticlimactic nor too drawn out. I’ve also been noticing that often when it comes to a series, the world building gets halted until the sequel which is where we really start to collect details that brings this world into existence. I guess it will all depend in what you’re expecting, if you want an exciting, non stop ride and you’re a fan of dytopians, then yes, this is one for you, my friend!

3 Hot Espressos


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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

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30 Responses to “Review: Dualed by Elsie Chapman”

  1. Kristin@BloodSweatandBooks

    I think your review is fair and your points valid. I was really let down by Dualed not because it was a bad book it wasn’t, just the book wasn’t what I was expecting. I know I will continue the series as I’m sure you will to I’m just doing it with a bit less enthusiasm.

  2. Ashley

    LOL it seems like we’re all posting our reviews of Dualed today!

    Your review is fabulous Giselle, and I agree with what you said completely. Although the world building was definitely lacking, I was able to overlook it to a certain extent. But I could not overlook West’s hypocrisy. That drove me bonkers

  3. Mary @ BookSwarm

    Oh, I agree about the romance! It was different than I expected and I appreciated that (you’re so right — too much in the way of cookie cutter romances in YA lately!). Maybe the next one will satisfy our worldbuilding needs a bit more!

  4. Erika A

    Great review! Dualed was one of my most anticipated books this year too but I found it pretty disappointing. I was really disappointed by West too. I couldn’t stand how she ran away from her Alt but she was perfectly fine with killing other people.

  5. Jenni @ Alluring Reads

    Totally agree with you here woman. This was so easy to read and I breezed through it, but when I took a moment to sit there and actually THINK about the world in it there were just too many questions for it to warrant higher than a 3. I loved the twisted world and how it was so set up to encourage the hunt and encourage the Alt’s to find eachother and end them. END THEM!

  6. Amy

    That was weird. I got a 502 error and it erased my comment!! WTF!! Well, not I don’t feel like writing it again. I am a bit nervous to read this now after all of the so so reviews I have seen. It sounded so awesome too. Great review hon!!

  7. Sam

    Great review, Giselle! I’ve been a little reluctant to pick this up following the influx of negative reviews, but it’s nice to read something a little more balanced. I’m not entirely sure if West is my sort of character – I tend to easily forget the average sort – but you have me intrigued by the rest. I’m glad you found enough to like about it to give it 3 stars. 🙂

  8. Christina

    Seriously, did all of you plan this? How did everyone in my feed post a review of this on the same day? Why wasn’t I notified? *pouts*

    I actually liked West as a character. She made a nice change from the super weak or incredibly strong heroine, because she has bits of both. I felt like she was just one of those people who has a lot of trouble acting on her own behalf, because of her insecurities, which she hides under a tough exterior. But, you know, to each her own!

  9. Shooting Stars Mag

    I just read another review for Dualed as well that mentioned things that both of you didn’t like…yours seems to be a bit more positive though. I’m still curious to check this one out at some point, but I hate when you can’t really FEEL for an MC.


  10. Molli

    Wow, Giselle – this review says everything I was thinking. Dualed is one of those books that the longer I’m away from it post-reading, the most evident the many issues become. Was it entertaining? Yes! Did I like it? Yes! But if you look TOO close, all the cracks start appearing, and then you can’t unsee them. I’ve worked on my review on and off again and am STILL torn on this one. I think it sucks so much because I REALLY wanted to love it, so the let-down was especially disappointing in this one. I’ll probably read the sequel, because I’m hoping we get answers, and that things are explained and make more sense.

  11. Melissas Eclectic Bookshelf

    I’ve really been debating picking this one up when it releases. A part of me thinks it sounds like such a fun read but I have been worried since I read the blurb about how the author would make this world plausible. I’m sad to hear that she didn’t. I’m leaning more and more toward skipping this one. Thanks for the well rounded review!

  12. Camille Picott

    At first glance, this sounds really cool, but I’m not sure about the whole concept of every person have an engineered twin. I think the worldbuilding for that would have to be really solid for me to lose myself in this story. Glad you liked it in the end!

  13. Nick

    This is one of my most anticipated reads of this year too, but all the mixed reviews has put me off a little to be honest. It’s a shame about the world-building being not as fleshed out as you expected it to be. West seems like a confusing character. I wonder if I would connect with her at all. I’m glad that you still liked it even with some of the book’s flaws.
    Lovely review, Giselle! Thanks for your honesty! 🙂

  14. Jen (A Reading Daydreamer)

    I’ve been seeing negative reviews for this one, and after reading your review, Dualed just sounds very MEH (your review isn’t meh, it’s a lovely review! ;). The concept I’m sure piqued everyone’s interest because let’s admit it: the idea sounds freaking CRAZY and AWESOME. But it sounds like it was too mind-twisty and difficult to make it sound realistic. West sounds like a heck of a boring character! At last the “love interest” was alright. I don’t think I’ll be picking this one up anymore, but thanks for the honest review, Giselle! 😀

  15. Jesse Burgoyne

    I’ve heard a lot of mixed things about this one. I’m pretty all about strong world building, but as long as there’s enough action to keep me distracted I’ll probably enjoy it. Maybe it won’t turn into an all time favorite, but that’s okay. It still sounds good 🙂

    Jesse @ Pretty In Fiction

  16. Annabelle Marie Veronica

    I really enjoyed this one! It was so much fun an really unique. I’m so with you on the characters, though. They could have definitely used more development. And there wasn’t much romance! It’s such a fast-paced book that it’s almost impossible not to get caught up in it. Excellent review chica!!

  17. kimbacaffeinate

    I really was hoping this would be epic, but between the meh characters and spotty world building, I think I will pass on this one. I really appreciate your thoughtful review..with so many books and so little time I want epic!

  18. Lyn Kaye

    Where the heck did this book come from suddenly? I have seen a number of reviews on this one. They have quite a range when it comes to the ratings. I’ll mull it over.

  19. Candace

    I have this one but have been hearing that it’s good, but not fantastic. I’m sure I’ll give it a shot though and hopefully I end up enjoying it a lot.

  20. Alexa Y.

    I didn’t like this one as much as I’d hoped I would, but it was fairly enjoyable. I think there’s a lot of potential in it, especially when it comes to the system of Alts.

  21. malvoliosStockings

    This book felt like the movie “Christmas Every Day.” A movie where the same day repeats over and over again. Obviously this book has nothing to do with christmas but this book felt like I was reading the same thing over and over again in an endless loop. Her running away again and again. Everyday was like the same thing after she became active, only a little bit different. That killed me. It really did. It was so boring to read the same thing for so long.

    It seems like you were a little bit more optimistic about this book than me though. I’m glad someone liked it more than i did. For me it was a major disappointment!