Blythe's Reviews > Dualed

Dualed by Elsie Chapman
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Upon finishing Dualed, all I am overcome with is an overwhelming sense of complete and utter mediocrity. Running through my head last night, while reading, and ultimately finishing Dualed was a giant list of 'what-ifs' and 'should-haves' that, in my opinion, would have made reading Dualed a much more interesting experience. Should these issues have been addressed, Dualed could have easily been a four star read for me, but in the end, there are far too many holes in the world and the character development for me to give Dualed anything more than a disappointed two stars.

1. What if the world-building were thorough, and the novel itself actually made a shred of sense?
I'm sure you've read about the world-building in other reviews for this before. While I do acknowledge and maybe even appreciate that Chapman took the time into developing a world and its past, which many authors seem to look over, it just doesn't feel like Chapman put much time and thought into the world-building. Each of the explanations we are given are incredibly poor at best, and at worst, make absolutely no sense whatsoever, and with each passing page I found myself asking the same questions: "Why? How?" And, if I even received an answer to one of my questions, I was not left satisfied with the answer. In the world of Dualed, there are Alts, which are basically clones, or doppelgängers (but not the Petrova ones. Those are actually cool.). At a certain time in each person's life in Kersh, the Alts are assigned to kill each other, that way the Alt left standing will be the stronger one, and thereby deemed worthy to live in Kersh.

Why? Why go through all this trouble, and have minors kill other minors, just so your city can be populated by strong people? And what if the Alt that wins isn't necessarily the stronger Alt? What if the Alt that wins gets lucky, or strategizes, whereas the other Alt is far more stronger than the winner? And another gap in logic concerning the Alts is their lifestyle. In Dualed, Alts are described as being identical in every way, shape, and form. They must have the same exact body shape as you, body fat composition as you, personality as you, voice as you, and on and on.

But then where does lifestyle choices come into play? What if one Alt is less athletic than the other? With that, one Alt would be outside running miles daily, hiking strenuously through forests, and then what? The other Alt would just magically gain the muscles his other Alt gains while he/she is sitting on her computer or eating dinner?

I don't think so.

And also, now that I've brought up food and eating, where does diet come into play, as well? One Alt could have a much worse diet than the other, yet they must have the same exact body fat composition?

"High metabolism!" Someone shouts to me through the computer.


Yes. Because metabolism is something every author puts into consideration while writing a YA dystopian novel.

Though, someone did bring up an interesting point to contradict my above issue in the comments of one of my status updates, and that point brought up was food rationing. This was a very good point to bring up, and would have set my complaints about body fat composition being identical to rest. If it were presented to us in Dualed, that is.

You may tell me I looked too far into the world-building to come across the above few points, when I really should have been "having fun and going along with the ride", but I find it quite difficult to "have fun and go along with the ride" when the roller-coaster I'm riding on is bumpy and has large holes in its tracks.

2. What if I cared about the characters?
This issue with Dualed is pretty straightforward, and there's not much to explain, but it's certainly worth point out, considering that next to the awful world-building, this is the novel's biggest fault. Honestly, I just didn't care about any of the characters or what happened to them. Dualed would have been a lot more engaging read if I actually cared about whether or not West would win against her Alt, but, if I'm going to be honest, I was rooting against her. It's not that West was an unlikeable character, because she isn't. She's just a very frustrating one. Before she got her assignment to kill her Alt, she preached to everyone how they shouldn't stall, that they should kill their Alt the very second they receive their assignment, and on and on, and snore and snore. But then what does West do? Oh, that's right.

Stall, and wait until the very last chapter minute to kill her Alt. While I suppose this is understandable, and maybe is intentional by the author, that doesn't defeat the fact that the hypocrisy of West's character was thoroughly frustrating for me. And as for her relationship with Chord, I really couldn't care less about that, either. Chord was a nice character. I did like him, but was this romance really necessary? They've known each other all their lives, but just now take the time to realize that they're in love? And even then, I felt absolutely no connection between the two characters. We're told that they're in love - multiple times - but I never felt that they actually were in love.

3. What if this were told by the POVs of both West and her Alt?
This is one of the 'should haves' that ran through my head while reading Dualed. But really, what if this book were told by the POVs of both West and her Alt? I feel that Dualed would have been a much more interesting and engaging read if we saw the world through the perspectives of two people trying to kill each other. There's not much to say about this 'should have' other than the fact that it would have made the cat-and-mouse aspect of Dualed a lot more fun and multi-layered than it was just told by the POV of West (and, admittedly, I did have some fun reading the cat-and-mouse aspect from her perspective, too), and it would have given the other Alt a good deal of character development and maybe have the readers grow to like both Alts, so that the impact of the finale when one of them wins would have more emotional impact.

Before this review turns into too long of a rant (and I'm afraid it's already become that), Dualed was a thoroughly disappointing read for me, even though I had gone into it with incredibly low expectations. With those low expectations, I was still expecting more from Dualed, and that only made the mediocrity of everything that much more devastating. Dualed is the epitome of a good premise killed brutally by execution, and the most ironic thing is that I think the execution may have killed more than West herself.
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Reading Progress

January 27, 2013 – Shelved
February 9, 2013 – Started Reading
February 10, 2013 –
page 14
4.79% "I'm only fourteen pages in and I've already lost count of how many gaps in logic this book has."
February 11, 2013 –
page 36
12.33% "These Alts have the exact same DNA as one another, so according to this book, they must look exactly the same, have the same amount of body fat, have the same body shape, have the same personality, etc.\n \n But then where does lifestyle choices come into play? One Alt can be heavier than the other based on their diet, no? Because according to this book, all Alts are identical in every way, shape and form."
February 17, 2013 –
page 113
38.7% "Last night I had a dream where I was in West's situation, and had to kill my own Alt. \n \n Needless to say, the dream was more interesting than the book itself. \n \n And yes, of course I won. How dare you ask."
February 17, 2013 –
page 137
46.92% "I think this would have been more interesting if it were told by the POVs of West and her Alt."
February 17, 2013 – Finished Reading
February 18, 2013 – Shelved as: 2013-reads
February 18, 2013 – Shelved as: almost-fell-asleep
February 18, 2013 – Shelved as: caught-in-a-bad-romance
February 18, 2013 – Shelved as: disappointments
February 18, 2013 – Shelved as: highly-anticipating-2013
February 18, 2013 – Shelved as: hooray-for-masochism
February 18, 2013 – Shelved as: i-totally-saw-that-coming
February 18, 2013 – Shelved as: judge-a-book-by-the-cover
February 18, 2013 – Shelved as: meh
February 18, 2013 – Shelved as: read-reviewed
February 18, 2013 – Shelved as: snark-bait-ooh-ah-ah
February 18, 2013 – Shelved as: was-warned-not-to-read-this
February 18, 2013 – Shelved as: unmet-potential

Comments Showing 1-12 of 12 (12 new)

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Ashley This book = ugh. So much potential, but did not follow through :(


Cassidy Washburn I agree with Ashley. I am a half way through and its not as good as it could have been. I am a bit disappointed.


message 3: by Natalie (new) - added it

Natalie Monroe I'm really looking forward to this book!


message 4: by Anastasia (new)

Anastasia Nichole Taking this one of my TBR list. Many people have said it was just "okay." What a shame. :(


Blythe Anastasia [I'm Wonderstruck...] wrote: "Taking this one of my TBR list. Many people have said it was just "okay." What a shame. :("

That's exactly what it was. Throughout the entire novel all there was was a sense of mediocrity. Definitely a shame.


Ashley This is a fabulous review Blythe! I agree with everything you said and I love your point about "what if this were told by the POVs of both West and her Alt?" Get some better world building, a likeable main character, and throw THAT into the mix, and I think you'd have a hell of a story.


pdbkwm I'm surprised to hear that it's not told by two POV. It seemed like this would be the ideal choice here.


Cassidy Washburn I completely agree with everything you said. Great review!


Berenice This book would have been a lot livelier if it was told by both their POV's it would have captured the reader and would not let me feeling all "wait, what!!! she was supposed to be the big bad Alt."


Rebecca I totally agree with your last point, but not as much with the first two. I felt that while the whole war thing could have been better explained, the author did an excellent job of conveying the idea behind the alts: that the one's who by their lifestyle choices were more athletic, stronger, whatever should win. However, they often don't, and even when they do, there's a whole moral problem which is at the heart of it being a dystopia, where the philosophy doesn't match the reality.

And the romance between West and Chord was actually done really well I thought. I thought they were dating in the first chapter xD


Laura Oh wow, I never even thought of #3. That would have made this book SO MUCH BETTER! Maybe even four stars.


Megan I totally agree that the book had great potential but didn't accomplish it. The idea of have dual perspective (especially since it is called Dualed) was cool. It would have made the twin killing feel more wrong, instead of oddly normal.


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