In this YA dystopian thriller, the world has has fallen into war, but a small section of the northwest US, Kersh, has managed to block itself off from the warring Surround. However, since Kersh is always looming under the threat of war, The Board decides to make sure their citizens are the strongest and best fighters available. Although, they way that they do this seems just plain ridiculous. When two sets of parents are ready to have children, all four sets of DNA are combined and both mothers are implanted with identical eggs, twins or Alts, born to separate families. When the children are anywhere between 10 and 20 they are 'activated,' meaning that one Alt must kill the other or they both die. This is supposed to leave Kersh with the strongest fighters. Even though once you have killed your Alt there is nothing stopping you from becoming fat and lazy and unskilled. There are also hired assassins, strikers, that can kill your Alt for you, and, not to mention all of the other ways in the world a person could die are still out there, too. It is not covered in the book what happens if your Alt dies before you are activated, which seems to happen a lot when one Alt is trying to kill the other.
Anyway, 15 year old West is quite traumatized by all the death around her. Her siblings were all killed by their activated by their Alts, and now her father has just passed shortly after the death of her mother. Then her best friend, Chord, becomes activated and West makes sure he is the one to kill his Alt. After witnessing this, West still feels unprepared for when her own day of activation will come. Taking the advice of her weapons teacher at school, West decides to become a striker. A hired assassin, outside the law, who is paid to kill other people's Alts.
While the plot sounded really interesting to me, the world set-up and the rules just did not work for me. The rule that the world set up and for the reasons the rules were set up were clearly not working. Kersh wanted the strongest people for it's army, however, it may just get the richest, the sneakiest or the luckiest. It also did not seem like Kersh was ever actively in a war. It seemed like there would have been much simpler ways to go about training good soldiers, but that's me. West's character was slightly annoying, she wanted to be the Alt that did everything right; but she stalled out and seem to make a lot of mistakes. West and Chord's relationship was a mess. I'm not sure I've ever seen a 15 year old girl push away a guy so many times, even though she thought she was protecting him. Here is what I hope will be happening in the next book, since there is potential here: The world of Kersh is obviously flawed, hopefully West and Chord will begin to see that and push back against authority. West obviously has a rule breaking streak in her and is a good fighter, she might be able to go up against The Board. Let's see what Divided will bring.
Divided is a lot better than Dualed! First of all, the city of Kersh, it's beginning and some of it's rules are finally explained. West learns the truth behind the Kersh's founders which gives us insight into why the city runs the way it does. The origins of The Board are explained, too, which helps to explain why these seemingly corrupt Board members get to control everything. Finally, the origins of the war and the creation of Alts are explained. This helps to understand the world much better (I was wondering why no one had figured out sex yet).
With West's striker offer and her decisions on how to carry it out, there is suspense and action built in throughout the storyline. In Dualed, there is a lot of waiting around. Lastly, it seems that West, Chord and Auden may have stumbled upon information and a way to begin changing their flawed society. Now, I am much more interested in seeing where this series is going.
This book was provided for free in return for an honest review.
Elsie Chapman Website