Author: Elsie Chapman
Release Date: February 26, 2013
Publisher: Random House
The city of Kersh is a safe haven, but the price is high. Everyone has a genetic Alternate, a twin raised by another family, and citizens must prove their worth by eliminating their twin before they turn twenty. Survival means everything. Fifteen-year-old West has trained as a fighter, preparing for the day when her assignment arrives and she will have one month in order to hunt her and kill her. But then a tragic misstep shakes her confidence. Stricken with grief and guilt, she's no longer sure that she's the best version of herself, the version worthy of a future. If she's to have any chance of surviving, she'll have to stop running not only from her Alt but also from love, even though both could destroy her.
Dualed is dark and dangerous, a high-speed chase to both eliminate the target and to stay alive. Constantly on the run, constantly in danger, constantly close to death, West is forced to think fast and move even faster if she wants to prove herself as the stronger of the pair. A very complex story, we see only one side, only West, but we know there is another story happening nearby, that of her Alt and her own mission to survive.
Like most protagonists, West has her issues. She has her own fighting skills, her own personality defects, her own emotional problems, but she knows she has to put everything aside if she wants to survive. The one variable is her Alt, her genetic twin, herself but not herself. We never her, never learn much of anything about her, but we know she must die so West can live.
West's problem is that everything around her crumbles at the start of the book, leaving her despondent and weary, leaving her wondering if she's really the better of the two. She needs to believe that she is, that she deserves to live, that she will fight her Alt as hard as she can for the right to continue living. If she doesn't, someone else with her face will have a future.
There seems to be a new trend popping up, a trend that circles around sibling bonds, twins, and alternate versions of characters. It's the other side of ourselves, us but not us, that intrigues it. What if there was someone out there who looked exactly like you do but lived a different life? What if, like in this book, you were forced to kill them, forced to prove you were the stronger of the two? How do you prove that? There's no comparison of skill or personality or intelligence, just kill or be killed. Just hope you can shoot faster.
As a whole, the book isn't as dystopian as I was expecting, the ruling group has its secrets but they aren't discussed or exposed. It's more of a futuristic thriller with a complicated over-looking government that makes its citizens choose who lives and who dies. A fast-paced and thrilling debut with hints of romance, I'm very curious as to what the author will bring forth for the sequel.
(I acquired an advance copy at ALA Midwinter.)