I read Dualed by Elsie Chapman in a day. Typically, when I read a book that fast, it’s because I’m head-over-heels in love with it. That wasn’t the case with Dualed. I loved the premise, and it was just as exciting as I had hoped for in the beginning. Yet, as the story went on, it basically fell apart. At least, that’s what it seemed like to me.
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.
No matter what genre of booking I’m reading, I always use at least a little suspended disbelief in regard to the new world. I mean, it’s a book and anything can happen. So I was open to this idea of identical twins having to hunt each other down and try to kill the other. Yet there were so many plot holes, not to mention that the science behind it made no sense. Essentially, scientists create a cure for the common cold, except it’s left humans infertile. So, when a couple wants to have a kid, they are randomly paired with another couple and then these scientists take DNA from both couples and create identical twins with all the qualities that their perfect society wants in its citizens. The kids train their entire lives because at some point, determined by the government, between the ages of 10 and 20, these twins will meet and battle it out to see who is the best.
Um. Yeah. Couldn’t the scientists just create the perfect human if they’re already messing with the DNA? But, if they did that, then there would be no book so I went with it.
In the very beginning, West’s friend is selected to go murder his identical twin, also known as an alt (short for alternate). She encourages him to go fight immediately. In a horrible mishap, West’s older brother gets killed in the crossfire. Because of that, her personality does a complete 180 and when her time comes up to find her Alt, she runs away and hides instead of fighting. A vast majority of the plot is West running and hiding from her Alt. It’s boring, pointless and annoying. It’s pointless because after 30 days, if both Alts are still alive, the government comes in and kills both of them.
But then, to feel better about herself, she somehow becames an assassin. I’m not even sure how/why it happened. There is a group of super secret group of assassins, who call themselves strikers, who will kill Alts for the very wealthy. First, I don’t understand why they accepted West as a striker – she hadn’t killed anyone before. Second, I don’t know why West would want to kill other people’s Alts. As someone who grew up in the slums, why would she agree to kill for the rich? I don’t know. This whole part of the plot confused me and made me like West even less. Why was she capable of going out and killing other people when she couldn’t face her own Alt? Again, I just don’t know.
West’s love interest was underdeveloped, to say the least. In the beginning, West admits that she really likes her older brother’s best friend but you don’t ever want to get too attached to a person because he or she could die at any given moment. Luckily, he defeated his Alt but when Wests decides to run away from her alt, she also runs away from him. Do I understand her logic behind that? Nope. I don’t even know if I could classify him as a secondary character because his role was so small.
If I had to sum up Dualed in a sentence, it would be, “I don’t understand this” or “I don’t get why this is happening.” It was completely frustrating and annoying. I can’t get lost in a book if I’m constantly questioning everything. Dualed had potential, and that’s why I kept reading it. I kept hoping that somehow it would get better. Unfortunately, it never did.