3.5 stars Every person in the city of Kersh has a genetic Alternate--but only one will survive! Dun d...moreStop by The Midnight Garden to win a Dualed ARC!
3.5 stars Every person in the city of Kersh has a genetic Alternate--but only one will survive! Dun dun dun. At the age of fifteen, West Grayer has just been notified of her Alt's location, and it's a race against the clock to find and eliminate her...before she herself is killed.
I really enjoy YA science fiction, so Dualed is right up my alley. Who wouldn't be intrigued by a concept like that? The blurb sold it to me, and I'm guessing it will hook a lot of other readers, too. I thought this was a pretty entertaining story, though I did have a few reservations.
What I liked:
-- West. Instead of being a more typical butt-kicking heroine, she's just an ordinary girl--albeit one well-trained to fight--who is placed in circumstances where she has to kill in order to survive.
-- The narrative. I liked being in West's head, and her internal dialogue was written in a way that gave insight into emotions she was hiding from everyone else.
-- The suspenseful cat-and-mouse aspect of West and her Alt hunting each other down kept me guessing.
-- The book is well-paced overall, with good tension and release.
-- Kersh is described in a way that felt reasonably solid in a physical sense, if not overly complex in its philosophies and structure.
-- Some of the fight sequences were really, really fun! A lot of thought was put into the choreography of the movements, as well as sensory details that added to the experience.
What could have been further developed:
-- The secondary characters, particularly the Alts, are pretty one-dimensional. Aren't West and Chord also Alts themselves, after all? It would have been interesting to have more nuanced antagonists.
-- While a certain amount of suspension of belief is certainly required in science fiction that is centered around a concept like this, there aren't really enough convincing explanations as to why there are Alts, what purpose they serve, how all this is administered, why the second one has to be killed, etc.
-- I didn't really understand West becoming a striker, which are assassins hired by the rich and powerful. It happens pretty early on in the book, and the scenes where West is acting in this capacity are among my least favorite. They are where she seems the most lost, and where her actions (or lack of them) are the least understandable.
-- West and Chord have known each other all their lives, so I wish there had been more shared history or feeling there. The connection between them didn't seem any stronger than that between two strangers who had just met.
-- A little more humor, and dialogue that was a little punchier, would have made the characters more relateable--and endearing.
-- A few important scenes could have been written with an aim towards greater emotional impact.
All that said, this one definitely satisfies if you're looking for a fast-paced, suspenseful read. I literally read it in a day, which is a statement in itself of its high entertainment factor! I'll also read the sequel when it comes out next year, although it's with the hope that some of the logic questions and character development are addressed. Fun stuff, if you can suspend your disbelief for a bit.
Recommended for: fans of Divergent, False Memory, and other action-oriented YA science fiction thrillers.
Aerial dragon battles. A girl with a cool mystical powers. Cute boys on motorbikes. What more could you ask for in a fun and fluffy paranormal book?
Fl...moreAerial dragon battles. A girl with a cool mystical powers. Cute boys on motorbikes. What more could you ask for in a fun and fluffy paranormal book?
Flying Blind took me completely by surprise. The story follows Zoë Sorensson, the only female dragon shapeshifter in existence, who has important duties to assume when she comes to maturity. The problem is, her powers haven't bloomed properly and the few times they begin to appear--in the form of a mesmerizing flame in the pupils of her eyes and a single curved talon--she can't control them. As a result, she's shipped off to dragon "boot camp" where she's huddled with a group of dragon boys she's known all her life, including Nick, the attractive guy whom she may be destined to be with.
The dragon lore is exceptionally well thought-out, with specific behaviors and mythology. I enjoyed the vivid descriptions of the different dragons, from a green one with silver-tipped scales to a beautiful garnet and gold one to a regal pewter and purple one with silver accents. The dragon battles are also very easy to picture, with muscular physical tussling, claw-slashing, orange-flamed fire-breathing, and tail-whomping--and with none of the typical fast-healing, "easy fix" powers to lessen the stakes.
Zoë is a bright, funny heroine who narrates in a breezy tone that's immensely appealing. She's attempting to gain control of her body while trying to figure out why such a dark cloud seems to hang over her normally good-natured friends, and there's a lot that's thrown at her as she's coming into her role as a member of the Pyr. She makes a lot of mistakes, but she owns up to them and is never afraid to take action when it matters most. I like that every person in the huge cast of secondary characters has a distinct voice and identity, and that things don't always go the way that seasoned YA readers might expect with mysterious strangers or popular girls. The story is fairly complex for a short book, but it's very light-hearted in tone, which is a refreshing change from all those supernatural YA books that aren't well-thought out or that take themselves too seriously. One of the many humorous touches? Zoë, kickass girl dragon, is a vegetarian.
This book is apparently a spinoff of the author's adult PNR series, but it doesn't feel like something that's hastily cobbled together or that is at all lacking in explanation. The author does a terrific job of gradually revealing the rules and history of dragon behavior, as well as in giving enough time (but not too much time) to characters from the other series in a way that doesn't feel tiresome or forced. It's also great to see a book that shows teens with strong, loving relationships with the adults in their lives--but the crises are deftly handled and solved by the younger dragons themselves. I will say there's a lot of information to process, some of the "dark cloud" behaviors drag on for a little too long, and Zoë does occasionally get a little moony over her crush. But all the romance issues are resolved by the end of the book, and there is plenty of time spent on the family and friend relationships, mythology, plot, and personal development to balance the relationship stuff out.
I'd highly recommend Flying Blind to any fan of non-angsty paranormal/fantasy YA, especially to fans of series such as Hex Hall or The Darkest Powers. Zoë does a lot growing up in this zippy, action-packed story--and after having such a fun whirlwind of an adventure in her company, I can't to see where the next story takes her!
P.S. The cover and title are very misleading, in my opinion. I think a story that has such a humorous feel to it deserves a cover design that makes it stand out a little more from all the other typical paranormal YA books out there. I really can't picture Zoë with such a serious look on her face at all! Also, newsflash: gorgeous battling dragons are a huge selling point. At least for me, anyway.(less)