*kinda spoilery, but marked lower in review*
I listened to this on audiobook so we will discuss the narrator first.
Narrators, to me, are almost as important a factor when listening to audiobooks as the stories themselves because you are typically spending 8-32+ hours of your time completely immersed in this persons voice. I always give the narrator about 1/3rd of the book to find their groove before I decide to ditch a book. I’ve only ever tried to listen to one book that I couldn’t finish because the narrator’s voice grated on my eardrums worse than any grade sandpaper every could.
That being said, I *almost* didn’t continue past the first 1/3 of Dualed because the narrator annoyed me, but the characters held me. I get the main character, West, is only 15 but more often than not the narrator read her with a “valley girl” type accent and, ugh. The narrator’s reading pace was entirely too slow for me, but the iPhone audible app has speed controls, which I set to read at a pace of 1.25x the recorded pace and that helped immensely.
The characterization is what held me the most, with the science and tech in the world as a close second. The science and tech was very original and things I haven’t seen in any of my recent reads: eye markers, eye scanners (I know these are popular things), laser tattooing, a couple other things as well. Everything else felt very regurgitated from a lot of stories that have been released in the last two years.
A fifteen year old MC is a little young for my taste even in YA books. But there was something about West that made her feel older than her years, as cliche as that sounds. I think it is the amount of loss she suffered even before the book opened: two siblings and both parents all from different causes. The loss of so many close to her is something that made her grow up, and rather quickly.
may be a little spoilery after here, read with caution
The biggest draw back to the book, I feel, is the society structure and overall premise. If you are a huge Hunger Games fan, this book may piss you off because it contains a lot of the same elements HG does. but Hunger Games is a young adult version of Stephen King’s Running Man, so take it all down with grain of salt.
The society of Dualed is nothing we haven’t seen before, but it’s the fact that the premise is negated by the very structure of the “filtration system” that dragged my star rating down.
– Society: It is a closed off city with “ward” divisions that provide everyone within the city certain goods and resources that the other “wards” don’t have.
– Premise: It’s governing body is a “board” that has a filtration system in place to ensure only the “strongest” of the population remain alive in case their walls are ever breached. The filtration system requires there to be 2 genetically identical people created, then them to be raised by two different families and schooled to be killers, and that when they come of a certain age–it is never really mentioned but we see the age is at least as young as 13 through the secondary characters–they are given 31 days to hunt down and kill each other or a self destruction kills both of them.
–Premise Negated: The whole “board filtration system” never really made sense to me and once we learn even more information about the how and the why it is in place, it made even less sense.
1) the board genetically alters two embryos to be identical to the other
2) population must be controlled through filtering out half the population via child on child murder of their identicals so that the society only contains the strongest people and no weak links.
1)Why make two identical people through genetic alterations just to kill the weak one if you can genetically alter an embryo in order to make that ONE person the best/strongest/most awesome being they can be from birth, no child on child murdering needed.
That’s where it fell flat for me, but I had to read the majority of the book to think my way out of the societal premise conundrum. Until I did that it wasn’t a wholly bad read.
Happy Reading. Happier Writing.
blurb from goodreads:
Two of you exist. Only one will survive.
West Grayer is ready. She’s trained for years to confront her Alternate, a twin raised by another family. Survival means a good job, marriage—life.
But then a tragic misstep leaves West questioning: Is she 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 herself, but also from love . . . though both have the power to destroy her.
Fast-paced and unpredictable, Elsie Chapman’s suspenseful YA debut weaves unexpected romance into a chilling, unforgettable world.