Dualed (Dualed, #1)Dualed by Elsie Chapman
My rating: 3/5 cats
One StarOne StarOne Star

i am so torn.

on the one hand—it is a book about twins (clones) where, by law, one must eventually kill the other, thereby leaving only one human instead of two, the way it should be (see shelf title). on the other hand, most of this “world” MAKES NO SENSE.

but how much does that matter, when you are reading a lightweight YA dysto-sci-fi novel? i have a tendency to shrug off inconsistencies depending on the answer to the following question:

is it fun??

well, yeah, it’s pretty fun. but i’m not sure it is fun enough to wash away the oversights and underdeveloped-ness that are still bothering me.

basically, in this version of the world, the united states is a war zone. somehow, the upper western quarter or so has established a sort of fortress-like city, called “kersh,” which has its own resources, and is protected from the rest of the country.

but at what cost? you ask.

well, despite having found a cure for the common cold (yay!) this cure has caused infertility in humans (oops!) so the scientists have stepped in with a plan that sounds straight out of some sadistic kid’s daydreams:

parents who want to conceive go to a clinic and their genes are randomly mixed with those of another couple, and then both prospective mothers are implanted with the seedlings of these mixed-gene babies, creating two little clones.

and then they are supposed to train them as mini-warriors because when the children are between 10 and 20, they will one day “activate” and they will have a month to kill their “alt” which will create a society of strong fighters in case the war from outside their perimeters ever comes knocking.

because that makes sense.

my feeling is that if you have the technology and scientific know-how to clone people, could you not just bypass this weird-ass plan altogether and just filter out the genetic weaknesses to make strong supersoldier-type individuals? could you not just create an ideal human warrior without all the fanfare? i mean, the system is not used as a social tool like in hunger games; it isn’t televised for entertainment or instruction or punishment. it doesn’t seem to create solidarity or even necessarily people with pronounced killer-instincts. people who have been through the test and survived still avert their eyes when there is a “completion” in front of them, and some get scared when there is gunfire and killing of others in their vicinity. as they should, because there is always the danger of accidentally getting shot by an overenthusiastic and inept teenage killer. it is all so haphazard and poorly-monitored, so even if you have been deemed worthy by killing your own alt, you can still die for no reason.

and then what? you are left with a nation of killers. awesome?

i mean, the purpose is to create a population of people who know how to kill and are comfortable doing so, just in case the war ever crosses the border, but is this really the best measure of a person’s fitness as a soldier? being terrified into killing one person, even if they look exactly like you?

it all seems so relative. because west’s (this is our heroine – i am losing the plot-points in my rant – sorry) alt seems a lot more killer-instincted than View Spoiler » who was the winner in his own self-on-self challenge, but who doesn’t seem as soldierly as west’s alt. at all. he just happened to get lucky.

and that’s another thing—if this society is so keen on creating little killers, why stagger the training? if you become “active” between 10 and 20, why wait to ramp up the fighting classes? gun-training doesn’t start until 16 (i think?) so if you become “active” at 11, you are pretty much only able to fight with a knife or your hands. you would think that the training would be intensive, from day one, for best results. and it is way easier to kill someone with a gun than with your bare hands. so even though it might not be the best idea to give a ten-year-old a gun, wouldn’t that have better results? “better” in this case is a very tricky word, but we are in a tricky world.

it all just seems so casual. with no intervention or monitoring. it is completely bizarre to me.

and how are you supposed to find your alt, really? there are measures in place, but they seem slapdash and easily avoided. i know that if i were to stand on the corner of 14th street and 6th avenue and greg were to stand on the corner of 83rd street and broadway and we decided to meet… “somewhere,” the odds of us actually crossing paths would be quite small. it is so easy to misplace someone. and just knowing the person’s point of origin is not enough. and if you don’t find and kill your alt within 30 days, you both automatically and spontaneously die. which seems unfair. if you have a timid alt who is scared of killing and just hides in a closet for a month, you are screwed.

a dystopia is supposed to be tightly controlled, that is the whole point. this is less structured than a frat initiation.

and there just isn’t enough going on psychologically, for me. this kind of institutionalized, ritualized killing would have all kinds of aftereffects on the nature of family, on the value of life, on the very structure of the community. but not here. everything operates as it does in “our” world. there are food vendors and train conductors and people still have attachments to their kin. all of the survivors are killers, but killers with no repercussions. they don’t seem like survivors who have survived by violent means. they don’t seem like soldiers. they are just…people. in a world where there is so much violence, every single day could be witness to a “murder,” and here the suicide of a parent is treated completely casually, which i guess speaks to a deadening of affect, but for the record, a person who kills themselves is not my idea of a super-tough warrior.

and loopholes abound! fortunately for the squeamish, if you have money, you can illegally hire someone to kill your alt for you. which is another problem. because west becomes one of those killers for hire, even though she is untested and lord knows why a super secret society would allow someone like that to join their ranks, when if they are found out, their punishments would be severe and teenage girls are not the best secret-keepers, and “spunk” is really not an attractive enough quality to risk discovery.

oh, god and west… View Spoiler »

and briefly—love subplot, you make no sense. the less said about that, the better.

what i would love is to have the second book be told from the POV of west’s alt. true, we would know where it was all headed, but i think it would still have a strong emotional impact precisely because of that, and it would be fascinating to have that as a counterbalance. and to know if the outcome was the right one. because, frankly, i am unsure.

all of my complaints seem like they should make this book a two-star cat one, but i didn’t dislike it, i just have a million issues with the lack of development. for me, it always comes down to fun, to “did i enjoy reading this?” and i did. the action was fun, i thought there were some strong scenes, and i loved the premise, but the more i start to think about it as a whole, more and more logic-gaps keep opening. that is a huge problem for some readers, but i can compartmentalize and separate my thinking-parts from my entertainment-parts. and this one was entertaining.

just don’t think about it.

but it might be a two-and-a-half, because the mess that is this review is really indicative of the mess that is this story. and it wasn’t until i started writing (ranting) that i realized how frustrated it left me. so let’s say two and a half.

read my book reviews on goodreads

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Amazon Disclaimer is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon properties including but not limited to,, or,,, or


this feels gauche, but when i announced i was starting a blog, everyone assured me this is a thing that is done. i’m not on facebook, i’ve never had a cellphone or listened to a podcast; so many common experiences of modern life are foreign to me, but i’m certainly struggling financially, so if this is how the world works now, i’d be foolish to pass it up. any support will be received with equal parts gratitude and bewilderment.

To Top