Dualed, by Elsie Chapman.
From the moment you get your assignment and you make the decision to run, life changes int he most momentous of ways. It's no longer a question of what you're going to do that day, what you're going to eat, who you're going to see. It's how you're going to survive until the next day comes. That you were stressing out about some exam or essay means nothing. Instead you learn how to be paranoid. You learn how to distinguish between the echoes behind you. You learn how to beg and sneak and how to move in the dark.
You learn that you can never go home again. At least, not until you're complete.
This book was a combination of The Hunger Games and Matched, and was definitely fascinating. I also thought it seemed like one stand-alone book, but the second book in the series, Divided, will be in stores in February 2014.
In West Grayer's world, random killings occur on the street each day - except they aren't so random. Every person in the world is born with an Alt (an Alternate), and sometime between the age of 10 to 19, each person will receive an assignment: they must kill their Alt. The reasoning behind this is that the stronger Alt will survive, and that person will be more fit to live in their city, the city of Kersh. For a price, however, people can be hired to kill your Alt: people more highly trained and effective than you. West decides to become one of these people, so that she can learn the art of the kill, but a few months after she starts, she receives her Alt assignment, and must kill her Alt - or else both of them will die within thirty days.
The Hunger Games meets Matched in this thrilling high-concept YA where citizens must prove their worth by killing their Alts—twins raised by other families. You or your Alt? Only one will survive.
The city of Kersh is a safe haven, but the price of safety is high. West Grayer has trained as a fighter, preparing for the day when her assignment arrives and she will have one month to hunt down and kill her Alt. Survival means advanced schooling, a good job, marriage—life. But then a tragic misstep shakes West's confidence. Stricken with grief and guilt, she's no longer certain that she's the best version of herself, the version worthy of a future. If she is to have any chance of winning, she must stop running not only from her Alt, but also from love . . . though both have the power to destroy her.
Just like in Matched, there's a "higher power" that mandates the rules in this dystopia - in this case, they are called The Board, and they are the ones who show up at your house to give you your Alt assignment. Once you receive your assignment, your eye pupils have a number on it. You and your Alt have thirty days to kill or be killed, and if neither of you are dead by that time, then both of you die.
I thought West's world was definitely fascinating. She was raised with brothers and sisters, all of whom die before her - not necessarily by Alts, but by accidents too - and it turns out that before she was born, her parents actually met her Alt's parents, by accident; they were placed together in the same waiting room at the fertility place where they went in order to "request" a child.
The ideas in this book are crazy to think about, because if this how real life was, there would be random sanctioned killings in the street, yet people would be accustomed to it; in one scene, a barista at a coffee shop sees West stalking her Alt, and tells her to take "that" away from there because it's "bad for business." I also thought Dualed wrapped up everything pretty nicely so I am interested in seeing what Divided will have in store for West and the people she loves.
Dualed will be in stores on February 26, 2013. 4 stars out of 5.
*Disclosure: I received an e-copy of this book from NetGalley to review. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.