Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Chapman, Elsie: Dualed (Dualed, #1)

Expected publication: February 26, 2013 (yes, totally jumping the gun on this one!)
Random House
YA Dystopian, 304 pages
Acquired and read: Through NetGalley in return for a fair and unbiased review; I read it within two nights.  

You or your Alt? Only one will survive. 

Dualed is a thrilling high-concept YA where citizens must prove their worth by killing their Alts--twins raised by other families. 

The city of Kersh is a safe haven, but the price of safety is high. 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. Survival means advanced schooling, a good job, marriage--life. 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. 

Elsie Chapman's suspenseful debut weaves unexpected romance into a novel full of fast-paced action and thought-provoking philosophy. When the story ends, discussions will begin about this future society where every adult is a murderer and every child knows there is another out there who just might be better.
Disclaimer: This is a pre-release ARC received from the publisher. As such, please check any quotes or information against the finished copy of the book.

You know, I think there are one or two sites on the Web where you're allowed to creep - and no, Facebook isn't one of them. (Believe me - I was totally freaked when one of my friend's younger sisters confessed that she's seen her sister look me up no less than five times to "see what I'm up to". Laugh at me all you want, but it's different when you're not the stalker. Trust me.)

NetGalley and GoodReads on the other hand...Go ahead. Knock yourself out. You can never have enough reading material. And books totally don't mind it when you check out their biodata before starting a conversation.

So anyway, I was stalking...*cough*...browsing NetGalley the other day, when I happened upon Dualed. I scrolled down, and back up. I checked the link to make sure it wasn't for some obscure country (read: any country that Kaye doesn't have access to galleys from). And then I clicked Request and prayed that someone, somewhere in Random House, would take pity on a little blogger girl from a small town and let me have this galley the first time around, please and thank you, Amen.

And what do you know? It worked.

As stated up there (in all that gobbledygook I'm pretty sure you just scroll by - after all, my reviews are the best part right?) it took me two nights to finish Dualed. Two nights of nail-biting and cringing and one moment where I calmly shut off my Kindle, closed my eyes and hoped that the author wouldn't be cruel enough to leave it right there.

Confession: She isn't cruel at all. She's really sweet. (That does count as unbiased still, right?

Anyway, after those two nights of nail-biting and cringing and eye-closing, I finished it. And I immediately went on Twitter to the author on her great achievement.

This is pretty much how it went...

Kaye: I finished Dualed last night. Wow...just wow.

Elsie: Really? How did you like it?

Kaye: *hums innocently*

Gah. Tell me.

Kaye: You can take comfort in the fact that I don't tweet authors about their books if I totally hated them. I'm not that cruel.

(See how I answer the question, and don't answer it at the same time? Smooth, Kaye. Very smooth.)

Elsie: GAH.

So yes, maybe it wasn't complimenting so much as teasing. But here's the part where I tell you exactly what I told her: this is some good dystopian, right here.

West is one of those heroines that you can feel in your blood. Every single moment, from when she entered the secret world of assassins, or strikers, to receiving her assignment and seeing her own other self for the first time - you can see it.

And it really, really will freak you out.

I mean, this is a world where the government creates another you just so you can fight it out and possibly lose your life, all for the sake of a better society.

Um, what kind of logic is that?

I know that some people will totally jump down my throat for this - mainly because so many comparisons are being drawn to the Hunger Games recently - but West really reminds me of Katniss. Minus the annoying "Peeta or Gale? Bread boy or wild hunter?" debate. And the long braid. And the whole being the Girl on Fire imagery. They are both caught in this dog-eat-dog world, having to kill or be killed, and both authors have the skill to yank you into the book by the arm and drag you along for the ride. There's fast-paced drama, sniper missions and assassin assignments (I mean, what's a future world without some dude finding a loophole to override the system?).

Of course, it's not all fun and games. West can be a little - how to phrase this politely? - annoying. Picture her as the cousin you have to babysit who plays with matches, opens the door for a stranger, and doesn't know how to turn off the oven. There were a few times I wanted to grab her by the shoulders and scream, "WEST! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?"

Also, despite being spared of the typical Dystopian Formula (see my review of Masque of the Red Death for further details), it's obvious that she and Chord are going to end up together, regardless of the arguments and the stomping out the door and the near-death escapades. If you're the type of person who wants the heroine to spend 50% of the storyline playing Eenie-Meanie-Mini-Mo between two buff, mysterious, snarky-mouthed heroes, this is not the dystopian for you.

(Thank God.)

So, since my spoiler filter is being strained to the max, and my inner goody-two-shoes blogger is screaming, "THIS IS A 2013 RELEASE, WHAT ARE YOU DOING, GIRL?!", it's time for a review:

1. 2013 = releases of win.

2. Elsie Chapman = debut author of win.

3. Dualed = read whenever you can get your hands on it.

Which, seeing as NetGalley and Edelweiss have pulled it for the time being, won't be soon enough for your liking, I'm afraid.

And here I've gone and wound you up. What a cruel blogger I can be. But then again, I think Elsie can attest to that now.


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