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A Reader of Fictions: By Myself - Linkin Park

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

By Myself - Linkin Park

Dualed, Book 1

Author: Elsie Chapman
Pages: 291
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: February 26, 2013
Source: Random House for review

Description from Goodreads:
Would you live through the ultimate test of survival?

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.

First Sentence: "I've buried nearly everyone I love."

Dualed is a book that I wanted as soon as I heard the summary. When I saw that cover, which is practically perfect in every way, my desire for Dualed kicked into high gear. Thankfully, I was able to finagle myself an ARC, because I really wanted to be able to review it for Dystopian August. I was actually really afraid that this one was going to be a big disappointment, because, let's face it, there are a lot of those in the dystopian genre. Thankfully, I really enjoyed Dualed, one of those books that's pretty hard to put down because the action never stops

Ordinarily, I like to start my reviews with what I did like about the book. With Dualed, however, I feel the need to start with the negative. The reason for that is that I think you need to be warned, so that you can mentally prepare yourself and just enjoy all the things Dualed does well, rather than getting hung up on this aspect.

The world building in Dualed is a bit laughable. I mean, it just does not make sense. Here's the thing: I love the idea of the alts and the kids having to kill someone with their face, and the city is creepy and atmospheric. That's all great. However, despite the blurb of description telling me how this came about, I'm really not buying society ever evolving into this, especially as a way of averting and preparing for war. I'm also not convinced on the science behind alts either.

One of the things I couldn't help wondering about within the context of this world was what happens when your alt dies as an AK (accidental killing during someone else's completion, aka killing their own alt) or of a disease. If that happens, does the remaining alt get a free pass? Besides, I imagine that often both alts are powerful and clever or both are wimpy and useless. Why get rid of one of each set when that doesn't necessarily seem like it will do the best Darwinist job? Wouldn't you be better off sticking all of the kids in an arena and making them kill each other until a specified number remain?

Anyway, enough of that. I just wanted to warn you to not think too much about the why and how of this society and to just suspend your disbelief. Besides that, I had no problems with Dualed. I was completely caught up in the story. There is so much action and excitement. Chapman builds up tension really well. Even though I knew that certain outcomes were guaranteed, I was still super concerned at the ending that things would not turn out okay. Partially, this suspense is maintained by the fact that Chapman definitely proves herself one of the awesome authors not afraid to have good people die in nasty ways.

Connecting with West took me a little while. She's one of the most emotionally closed off heroines I've encountered, reminding me most strongly of Trella from Inside Out and Outside In. Almost all of West's family has died, either killed by their alts, by accident or through even more painful methods. This has left West with serious trust issues: getting close to someone can only increase your pain when they die or their pain when you die. The more I got to know her, though, the more I liked her and sympathized with her. Though Dualed is not at all about being a typical teenager, her fear of not being good enough is one to which every reader can relate. Much as I came to care for and worry about West, I did still sometimes want to shake her, because she makes stupid decisions. They're the kind I would probably make too, blinded by the fear and pain of the moment, but I wish I could spare her that.

What I found especially interesting about West was that she was not an especially strong or weak character; so many YA heroines are either completely useless or total badasses. She comes off as a fairly ordinary (not in personality, but in physical ability) person doing what she has to. Though she's nice and has had her family decimated by this world, she becomes a striker, an assassin to kill the alts of others. She does this to practice for when she has to battle her own alt, since she does not feel at all prepared. She's fairly good at striking (though not a prodigy), but she still falls to pieces in the face of, well, her own face. I really do love the idea of having to fight a physical manifestation of your personal demons. Could you kill someone with your face?

My favorite character, though, was definitely Chord. He is definitely one of the YA heroes we should all be squeeing over. Though he does have some stalkerish tendencies, I believe them to be solely because to help West become a Complete, to help her kill her alt. Aside from following her to help keep her from dying, West is pretty hands off. He gives her the space she wants when he can, he doesn't press his feelings on her, he gives her money and medical care, and he doesn't give up on her. Chord is a steady, reliable presence, not commanding like most YA guys. He is sweet and also, for bonus points, a tech nerd. Be still my heart, because a guy who says stuff like the quote below? The best kind of guy.

Dualed is an action-packed thrill ride that will be perfect for fans of The Hunger Games or Divergent who are willing to overlook some weakness in world building in exchange for adventure and drama. Dualed definitely focuses on action, though there is some romance and even some humor.

Favorite Quote: "'I don't want to have to save your life,' Chord says softly. 'Not when you can do it.'"

"I ask why, but in my mind
I find I can’t rely on myself

I can’t hold on
To what I want when I’m stretched so thin
It’s all too much to take in
I can’t hold on
To anything watching everything spin
With thoughts of failure sinking in

If I

Turn my back I’m defenseless
And to go blindly seems senseless
If I hide my pride and let it all go on then they’ll
Take from me ‘till everything is gone

Remember: Every comment on a post during Dystopian August is an entry to win one of fourteen dystopian/post-apocalyptic novels IF you've filled out the form from this post.

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Blogger Lilian said...

"kids having to kill someone with their face"
literally (do I kill someone if I glare at them long enough)? or metaphorically?

And then I skimmed the rest because Dualed is on my anticipated reads. Chord does sound juicy though *o*


August 15, 2012 at 12:12 AM  
Blogger kara-karina@Nocturnal Book Reviews said...

Thanks for heads up about world-building, Christina! I'm looking forward to this one, but it does piss me off that the authors often feel like they don't need to invest into a believable world. This is not a movie, folks! You can't blind us with special effects and hope for the best. We have time to think when we're reading. *sigh* Awesome review as usual!

August 15, 2012 at 12:55 AM  
Blogger Lynn K. said...

Words cannot describe how jealous I am of you. February is SO FAR AWAY AHHHH. The cover is so gorgeous and with a synopsis like that...is it Feb 26th yet?!

Thanks for the review and heads up regarding the iffy world building. I'm usually not that bothered about a dodgy world building as long as the characters/events keep me on my seat. We'll see. :)

August 15, 2012 at 4:50 AM  
Blogger Alessandra said...

I think I found out about this book from someone's WoW post. It sounds good, and your review does, too. It just makes me wonder if there's a trend in the most recent YA books having a skilled fighter/assassin as the main character. There was Katsa from Graceling, of course Katniss Everdeen, then The Hunger Games because a huge success, and in more recent/upccoming books we have Caelena (Selena?) from The Throne of Glass; the MC in Stormdancer; and now this West girl. I much appreciate a heroine who can defend herself, but all these similarities make me wonder if publishers are trying to recreate THG's success, and that's why books with apparent affinities end up being published so close to each other.

August 15, 2012 at 7:32 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

LITERALLY. Also, somewhat metaphorically, because that's a really interesting right of passage. But, really, they kill someone who looks just like them.


August 15, 2012 at 8:05 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

The world building didn't bother me too much, because I enjoyed everything else. So, if you just laugh to yourself when it's 'explained' and then sit back and accept it, Dualed is a really fun read!

August 15, 2012 at 8:06 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

You should be good, then, because I was able to just accept the world building and move on.

I know. I would be jealous of me too. :-D

August 15, 2012 at 8:07 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Well, West is a little different. She isn't insanely skilled, like the others. She is more like a normal person who's been trained up. She still makes stupid mistakes a lot.

Well, I think Graceling came out around the same time as THG, and certainly before it took off. There certainly are more kick butt female heroines these days, though, which is probably partly because of THG, since pubs know people like that now.

August 15, 2012 at 8:09 AM  
Blogger brandileigh2003 said...

I'll suspend belief and probably love this one. It's been on my radar for a while.

Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog

August 15, 2012 at 9:59 AM  
Blogger Lenore Appelhans said...

Michelle and I discuss this one at the end of the months and I loved reading your thoughts on it. Chord = YUM! Definitely a Peeta type :)

August 15, 2012 at 11:07 AM  
Blogger aLilLacey said...

I'm normally open to crazy ideas and concepts in books but this does sound a little bizarre. If for some reason society did lose their marbles and have twins of every one then why wouldn't they kill off the weaker person themselves rather than risking the beret twin being killed by the bad twin. Strange. I'd still maybe give the book a go and give it a chance though.

August 15, 2012 at 2:45 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Good choice! Hope you love it!

August 15, 2012 at 4:42 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

I actually was a Gale fan, but I see the comparison you're making. Chord was so sweet. I just want to give him all of the hugs.

August 15, 2012 at 4:42 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

I think it's worth trying, though I did think about that too. It seems like their plan could backfire really easily.

August 15, 2012 at 4:43 PM  
Blogger Lilian said...

Interesting. You can't even throw insults like "YOU UGLY FACE!!"
But really, I do think fighting someone that looks just like me would be a problem since I imagine myself to be so much more pretty than I really am...so it won't be a problem.


August 16, 2012 at 5:44 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

That would be one way: confuse them with your insults that also apply to you (except not because obviously you are better looking!) so that they let down their guard and you can murder their face.


August 17, 2012 at 8:06 AM  
Blogger Lilian said...

Sounds like a plan! Let me take advantage of my own insecurities and murder my face that isn't really my face! I am brilliant.

YES I LOVE ART, but only pretty kinds. But I meant "galley." Hmph, I should've just said ARC instead. I can't even correct typos here (which, obviously didn't happen...but you know.)

August 18, 2012 at 8:50 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Very clever. They will never see that coming. 'My feet are ugly? Damnit! I always knew that. Wahhhhh!' *is murdered*

Right. Typo? What typo?

August 20, 2012 at 7:55 AM  

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