Teen Review: Dualed
Review by Bridget, age 14
In the futuristic city of Kersh, everyone has a genetic Alternate. An Alternate is basically your twin, but he or she is raised by another family. Anywhere from the age of ten to twenty, you could be assigned to kill your Alt. If you successfully complete your assignment, you get to enjoy the rest of your life. But why do you have to kill your Alt? I'll discuss that later.
Anyways, fifteen-year-old West Grayer has lost almost everyone she loved. She lost her mother, her eldest brother, Aave, her younger sister, Ehm, and most recently her father. Only her brother Luc and his best friend Chord are left. Shortly after her father's funeral, Chord receives his assignment. Luc and West decide to join him in finding his Alt. But unfortunately, Luc is killed in the crossfire.
Only herself left in the family, West is stricken with grief and guilt. She decides to become a striker, which is an assassin for hire, paid by wealthy people to kill their Alts for them. West does not do this just for the money but also to escape reality and to gain some skills and experience for when she receives her own assignment to kill her Alt.
As promised, the story of how the city of Kersh came to be is the following: the world is a mess; the universal cold vaccine has a side effect of irreversible infertility; and the Board (which is basically the government) keeps the human race alive through biological intervention. But sadly, human nature continues to fall apart no matter what, and thus the world falls into war. A part of the Board decides to turn its back on everyone else and claims the West Coast of North America. And that place is called the city of Kersh, the last war-free zone in the world.
However, the price of living in this safe haven is pretty high. Everyone needs to fight their Alt in order to determine who is the better person. So that when the day comes that the Surround (which is the outside world) decides to invade Kersh, they will have to battle soldiers who are their best selves.
What I like about Dualed, by Elsie Chapman, is the suspense – it keeps you on your toes. Just imagine living your life trying not to be killed by those who are in battle and by your own enemy. It's kind of like Hunger Games, but everyone needs to do the same thing (unless you're already dead before having to do so).
Another problem is that Chord promises to Luc to look out for West, which only worries her because she doesn't want what happened to Luc and to some other members of her family to happen to the last person she cares about. She tries to stay away from him, but he always finds a way to track her down, to give her food and other necessities.
Here's a spoiler: West's Alt has hired her own assassin!
That's all I could spill without ruining the book. The question still lies: Who will win?