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Mirkat

Mirkat Always Reading

I'm always reading something, usually multiple books at a time.

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Modern Romance
Aziz Ansari, Eric Klinenberg

Alternate Title: Stalled

Dualed  - Elsie Chapman

 

I am a sucker for "read now" books from NetGalley.  I grabbed Divided (the second book in this trilogy) when I glanced at the description that recommended the series to Divergent fans.  Then I downloaded Dualed from my library's e-collection so I could get caught up.  I think maybe they should have said "recommended to Divergent fans who thought Divergent's world was too plausible."

 

In Dualed,  the first-person, present-tense POV character is West Grayer, a 15-year-old girl who lives in Kersh, a fenced-in city in a future Pacific Northwest.  Prospective parents cannot have children the old-fashioned way anymore, because sci-fi reasons, so when they decide to have them, they need to go the Board, which appears to be in charge of pretty much everything in Kersh.  Each couple's DNA is mixed with another couple's DNA, and each mother then is impregnated with an identical-twin embryo derived from that mix.  These biological twins, raised in different families, are one another's "alt."  Sometime between age ten and just shy of twenty, each alt-pair is "activated":  given 30 days to face off, so that one of the alts kills the other.  The surviving alt is then considered "complete."  The rationale for this system is supposed to be that each "complete" is the stronger, more "worthy" of the two, so that Kersh's population is best suited to warfare should those outside of the Kersh walls should ever stir up trouble.

 

Still with me?  This world...  Can you imagine anyone agreeing to any of this?  "Hello, happy future parents!  Your lovely child probably has a roughly 50-50 chance at being killed before age 20!  By an identical twin!  What could be the downside of THAT?!?!"  So think about this...  Throughout the city, anyone can get caught in the crossfire of a completion.  And people just casually sit by while these kills go on around them.

 

Naturally, there are also ways to game the system, such as paying a "striker" to kill one's alt.  Besides having the option of paying for a striker, wealthier families can afford more and better training for their children.

 

West becomes an active relatively early in the narrative, and then spends the bulk of her story stalling.  Even though her whole philosophy when advising anyone else who becomes an active is to not wait, but go in for a completion as early as possible, before the alt has a chance to form a plan. 

 

Since this is the first book in a trilogy, I didn't have a whole lot of suspense over whether West or her alt would finally (finally!) be the one to prevail.  But I spent much of the reading wishing she'd just get on with it.  And frankly, the narrative didn't give me all that much reason to favor West over her alt.  Mostly, I kept coming back to how messed up their world is.  Oh.  And in case you might be thinking how cool it would be if a couple of alts decided to buck the system and NOT kill each other?  That would fail because if they are both alive at the conclusion of their 30 days, they BOTH die.

 

There is a love interest, of course, but West's sudden emotions about him felt unearned.  It was as if he walked onto stage holding a sign saying, "I'm the love interest," and from then on, he just was.

 

One positive thing I will note is that the book does come to its own conclusion.  It does wrap up the major plotline that it sets up, instead of stopping in the middle of its climax and asking readers to pick up book two to find out how that unravels.  I mention that because I've had just that happen in other trilogies recently, and I wasn't happy about it.  So this book at least does not do that.  There is obviously room for the story to continue, and maybe in Divided, the characters will start working on making their society more plausible.