*** A 3.6 Review as posted on KindleObsessed blog ***
There is a theory out there (somewhere in that vast void we like to call the internet ) called the Doppelgänger theory. Chances are, you might have heard of it (though probably abstractly.) The theory states that “somewhere on this planet, alive today, is someone who looks like you — maybe not precisely, but close enough to be your double, your doppelgänger.” As a person who is not blessed with the wonder of having an identical twin (from birth) this comes across as a little creepy to me, and at first I thought it was a ludicrous as flying pigs. (Though admittedly, I think flying pigs would be kinda cool.) Then I looked it up. (Propelled of course by Elise Chapman’s novel “Dualed” and the idea of having “Alternates”) What I found actually left me in awe. There is some sort of sick truth behind this entire theory. (Which I can only assume was intended to be an epic game of facial tag for the big man in the sky.) Anywho, (I digress) after discovering the shocking truth of my face possibly being held captive by some very unfortunate soul (who most likely lives in Canada and has 40 cats who’s names sound suspiciously like those from Manga comics) I got to thinking. What IF (much like the dilemma behind “Dualed”) only one of me is REALLY supposed to be here? What if, for the sake of future generations safety I had to assassinate my “alternate/doppelgänger” before she had to chance to pop a cap in me? Would I be able to? And if I was able, could I live with this sort of colossally screwed up suicide? (I mean…it IS MY FACE! Right?) Thankfully, I don’t think I’ll ever REALLY have to answer these questions, but I have to admit…it was pretty interesting to watch (*cough* I mean read…) Elise Chapman do it.
"In the city of Kersh, everyone must eliminate their genetic Alternate twin, raised by another family, before their twentieth birthday. West Grayer, 15, has trained as a fighter, and has one month to hunt and kill her Alt. A tragic misstep shakes her confidence. Guilty, grieving, she feels unworthy, runs from her Alt and from love – both can destroy her."
Before I get neck-deep into this review I wanted to post a snipped from page 20 of “Dualed.” Some of you might think 20 pages isn’t all that far into the book to start spouting off, and my need to share this is slightly insane, but if you are the person that decides to BUY this book (because I’m totally convincing as a reviewer *wink*) knowing this small detail going in will help you understand just exactly WHAT it is you are reading. Up until this point there is a flood of information, but nothing that explains exactly what is going on, and as a READER…knowing this upfront will lessen your anxiety in trying to piece together gobs of seemingly useless information into one solid thought. In short, it will make the reading experience more enjoyable. (And don’t worry, I’m not spoiling anything. That’s just flat-out blasphemous.)
The who, what, where, when, why…
“Since the city is closed off to the rest of the world, limiting space and resources, only the best of us are wanted. The Board, in their genius, created Alts, manipulation genes so two identical children are born to two sets of parents. Each couple is raising the best killer, the best survivor. Because when their child’s assignment kicks in – which happens anytime between the ages of ten and twenty – both active Alts must hunt each other down until only one remains. It’s the ultimate survival-of-the-fittest test, allowing only those capable of killing to go on to become adults in Kersh.”
Now that you understand the NEED for Alts, let’s talk about them. Or more specifically one Alt named West. (Because this is HER story.) First of all, it’s not a drastic leap to assume the majority of people reading this book are going to aggressively dislike West. Though unintentional (from her POV) she comes across as overwhelmingly selfish. Her actions are not intended to be selfish, they are intended to be sacrificial, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that each and every decision she makes is in complete disregard to ANYONE’S feelings. And, if her lying/cheating/stealing doesn’t get under your skin, it’s fairly safe to assume the fact that she is an assassin will. She is a VERY closed off character despite the book being written from her perspective, and because of this…she is hard to connect with. Not for everyone of course (because I didn’t seem to have a problem once I understood the reasoning behind her actions) but a fair share of you will find yourselves disconnected from the story. (That’s not an insult, just a fact. West is difficult.) That said…if you are one of the lucky ones that can see behind her iron mask, what waits for you can be quite emotional.
“She bled out in my arms, and I remember screaming so loudly that ___ came running from his house down the block. He crashed to the ground on the street next to me and grabbed me in a hug and didn’t let go. Even after ___ took ___ from me, ___ didn’t let go.”
Though he is not mentioned in the synopsis (or any of my quotes for that matter) the character that actually holds this story together is Chord. (Who you are introduced to right out of the gate.) He IS the emotional tie the binds West to not only herself, but her family. Without him (despite his gaping absence for the majority of the book) West would be nothing more than a death dealer. The character in a book whose sole purpose is to drum up action for the sake of forward movement. With the introduction of Chord, lines suddenly begin to form. Futures become uncertain, and every connection made between every character becomes a tenuous one. He’s glue.
But, it’s not ALL about the characters is it? There has to be a story (and a good one) to keep your eyes flitting from page to page right? Right!
“Dualed” (despite it being a rather gruesome overall concept. More kids killing kids…sound familiar?) is actually a very well-developed story. The plot is solid, the execution of said plot is rather impressive, and the speed and action in which Chapman is able to relay so much information is nothing short of noteworthy. (The book is only 292 pages long.) There are several stopping point during West’s challenges, and those stops usually include several pages of internal dialogue BUT they don’t bog the story down. Instead they feel more like roadside rest areas. Tiny pit stops placed after every 100 miles to help you recharge, reassess, and then continue. I found them helpful (and necessary) considering the subject matter.
So what does that mean for “Dualed” overall?
Well, how about this…five minutes after I turned the last page I sent a text to my best-friend telling her to read it. If I’m willing to throw her under the proverbial book bus I’m more than happy to do the same with you.
“Dualed” isn’t full of rainbows and butterflies, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t good. It’s just…different. And from where I’m sitting, (the person who sometimes feels like she is reading the same book over and over again) different is good.
I say take a chance. If you don’t like it…come back and tell me why. I’d be curious to know.
Happy reading my fellow Kindle-ites and remember: “Saying sorry doesn’t mean there isn’t guilt and forgiving doesn’t mean the pain is gone” – unknown