A couple of weeks ago, I read and reviewed Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt. This little book got me thinking about how much our world has changed and how reliant we have become on our technology. So much so, that I think we all at times forget to just take time and enjoy the simple things in life like reading a book with your children. I was offered a chance to participate in The Unplug and Read Tour hosted by Random House Children's Books. It is a month long event designed to encourage everyone to take some time to unplug and read. It will culminate with the week long event from April 29th-May 5th: Screen Free Week. Can you accept the challenge and turn off all your electronic gadgets and gizmos for a week? This is an excellent challenge to do with your kids as it is a chance to remind them not to become too dependent on social media, tv and all the other electronic distractions. If you are interested in learning more you can visit Random House Children's Website or their Facebook page. Even if you can't go screen free for a week, perhaps you could pledge to sit down and read with your children every night. It is worth thinking about!
As part of the tour, I was able to review Dualed by Elsie Chapman. This is a frightening dystopian with a Hunger Games type theme. It is scary, entertaining and thought provoking. Stick around for the giveaway at the end.
Here is my review:
Dualed (Dualed #1) by Elsie Chapman
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.
Elsie Chapman's suspenseful YA 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.
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published February 26th 2013 by Random House Books for Young Readers
Three and a half stars: A thrilling and frightening world where one must kill or be killed!
West is dreading the day when she receives her assignment. It is the day where the clock starts ticking and she must kill her alternate identity or die. West lives in a terrifying and brutal futuristic society where humanity was nearly destroyed by a vaccine for the common cold. She resides in a city where everyone must train to be a soldier to survive. The Board in an attempt to ensure only the survival of the strongest and fittest conceived a brutal plan. Every child has an alternate. Twins born to two sets of parents. Once the child reaches eleven, they can be activated at any time and forced to kill their alternate or be killed. Failing to act results in death for both children. West receives her assignment just days after a tragic loss. Reeling from trauma, she does the one thing she thought she would never do.... run and hide from her Alt. Will West step up and kill her Alt or be killed?
What I Liked:
- Ms. Chapman does a terrific job in presenting a terrifying Hunger Games type story where children are forced to kill in order to survive. However, in this story their opponent is much more terrifying since everyone must fight their genetic twin. Imagine coming face to face with someone who shares your same DNA and being forced to murder them or be killed?! It is a chilling concept for sure, and it certainly set my imagination on fire and got my heart pounding. If you are a fan of dystopians with thrilling and terrifying concepts and lots of action, you should give this one a try.
- Ms. Chapman does a good job presenting her futuristic dystopian world. She provides just enough details to provide solid framework, but refrains from info dumping. Her world is horrific and scary in that ordinary citizens go about their daily business not thinking twice about the murders that go on all around the city as children battle and kill their alternate identities. Accidental kills are common, but just another harsh reality of life in Kersh. I wasn't lost with the world building and thought the detail was adequate, which is always a bonus for me when reading a dystopian.
- This book certainly got the gears of my mind churning as I pondered over all the shocking aspects of life in Kersh. For instance, imagine being a parent having survived your own murderous encounter with your Alt. Now you have earned the right to enjoy your life, marry, have children, etc. Then as a parent you give birth to a child knowing that somewhere out in the city there is an exact duplicate of your child, growing up and someday the two will meet and only one will survive. Your child has a fifty-fifty survival chance. I cannot even imagine the terror of knowing that once my child turns eleven that they could at anytime be forced to kill their Alt. Not only is the thought of losing your child scary, but you must face the daily threats of Alts murdering each other in the streets, and there is always a chance your child could be in the wrong place at the wrong time and become an errant victim. The story presents some interesting and frightening ideas. I definitely enjoyed mulling them all over.
- The romance in this one is simple and straightforward. It involves two long time friends thrust together in dire circumstances, finally after a great deal of conflict, they open up and express their feelings. There is not a love triangle, which is always nice.
- This book culminates with an adrenaline fueled, heart pounding scene that had me racing through the pages. Thankfully, everything draws to a complete and satisfying resolution with no cliffhanger. This book works well as a stand alone, but I understand a sequel is in the works. I don't know if it will be a continuation of West's story or a companion novel. I will be interested to follow up as I did enjoy the action and ideas of this book.
And The Not So Much:
- For me, and I think many other readers, the biggest problem with this book is that it is extremely difficult to connect with West. She is an impossible character to like sometimes. In the beginning, she comes across as a tough as nails, forceful, determined and brave, but after a traumatic incident in the first chapters, West changes. From that point on, West appears to be suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Granted, I can understand why she pushed Chord, her best friend away. She was scared of losing him, too, but she is so mean and ungrateful toward him that it made me dislike her. Also her behavior is erratic and at times irritating. Gone is the forceful girl who is determined to take on and kill her Alt. Now West is damaged and hiding. Furthermore, she takes on the role of a Striker. An assassin for hire if you will. I couldn't believe that she was hunting and killing others Alts while hiding from her own. In all honesty, there were times that I thought she deserved to be killed. In the end, I settled with a love hate relationship with West. Part of me admired her, while another part of me was frustrated with her stupid behavior.
- There were a couple of questions I had regarding the whole Alt issue. I was still a bit confused over how and when someone received their assignments. Everything was determined by the mysterious and powerful Board. Once a child turns eleven they could be activated to kill their Alt. How did they determine who would be activated? Was it a lottery type thing or what? People were often errantly killed while in the path of an Alt conflict. So if your Alt was killed by a stray bullet did you automatically get a free pass and become Complete without having to go through any type of trial? It doesn't seem fair that someone could become Complete and enjoy all the benefits of life without having to endure the Alt showdown. These were a couple of minor concerns I had with the plot.
- The Board and the government control lacked a bit of detail. I wanted to know how the Board formed? Who sat on the Board? How were the leaders determined? Why didn't the government maintain stricter control over the Alt conflicts? Why didn't they hunt down and punish those who used Strikers?
Dualed is a fast paced, exciting and terrifying story will entertain you despite a few flaws. If you enjoy gritty reads that keep you flipping the pages until the bitter end, you should check out Dualed. I enjoyed the overall story and I think Ms. Chapman does a solid job with her dystopian vision. I would certainly be interested to check out her follow up: Divided.
"Besides, paper books smell like the past, an alien world."
"I need to believe it's possible to keep going the way I am and not change too much, not leave too much of myself behind."
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.
As part of The Unplug and Read Tour, courtesy of Random House Children's Books. I am able to offer a chance to win Dualed by Elsie Chapman to one lucky U.S. entrant. Fill out the Rafflecopter to enter. Good Luck! I hope you will consider taking some time in the next month to unplug, go screen free and spend some time reading! To follow the tour become of fan of the Facebook Page, and follow on Twitter, also find out more information here. Thank you to Random House for allowing me to be a part of this event.a Rafflecopter giveaway