I’ve had such good luck with books lately, but Elsie Chapman’s Dualed (2013) killed my winning streak. I’ve been figuratively salivating for this book since it was published (wicked cover art, kick-ass plot), but this was definitely a case of the actual thing not living up to my inflated expectations.
Here’s the reason why I thought it would be so cool: Dualed is about an alternate, dystopian world where everybody has to kill their genetic Alternate twin, raised by another family, before they turn 20. The main character, West Grayer, who has been training for this event her whole life, gets her assignment at the age of fifteen. Once the Board gives you your assignment, you only have one month to complete it. If there isn’t only one of you standing before the end of the month, you are terminated.
Do you realize what that means? Every single person over the age of 20 is a murderer. How deliciously twisted is that? You would think this would be a perfect platform for some kind of social commentary; an introspection into how it all became so warped and twisted, with disturbing connections to our current values. You might think you were about to read something intelligent and subversive, but with some uplifting undertones on the importance of human life.
You would be wrong.
Which leads me to the reason this book was not so cool: West Grayer does exactly what is asked of her. Maybe I’m expecting too much of a YA book, but if I were a 15 year-old girl living in a society where every adult is a successful killer, and some government is making me murder my own twin, I would start questioning the system. I might even try and join forces with my Alt and incite some healthy rebellion. You know, try and overthrow the overlords. But I guess that’s just me…
In an upcoming sequel to the book, Divided (2014), the Board makes West kill again, even though she’s supposed to be done, and she has to uncover the truth about everything and blah blah blah. It just seems like too little too late. Admittedly I started skimming Dualed towards the end because I just didn’t care any more, but I never got the impression that West or her dreamboat really question their reality. So to have her desperate to uncover the “truth” about the Board in the sequel kind of seems disjointed.
I just can’t say enough how disappointed I was in Dualed. I was hoping for something really kick-ass and clever, but instead I found a disappointing plot and a main character I never even learned to like before I lost all respect for her.