Divided, by Elsie Chapman, is the second book in a YA series. I have not read book one (Dualed), though a sampler was provided by the publisher, through NetGalley, which did give me a little taste of what the series would be about.
What we have is a future/alternate world in which a community is controlled by a corrupt governing board. All children are born with a genetic alternate (“Alt”) twin. To become ‘complete’ each youth must kill their Alt. This insures that the children who succeed will grow up to be battle-tested and strong enough to be good members of society (survival of the fittest).
It would seem that our heroine, fifteen year old West Grayer, has already succeeded in killing her Alt and is hoping to move on with her life. But some members of that board have other thoughts, needing West to assist in the elimination of other Alts. She balks, but is made some promises which put her on a path she’s never comfortable moving along. When one of the Alts she’s been assigned to eliminate turns out to be someone she recognizes…someone who is NOT an Alt but a ‘Complete’ … she knows she’s been set up. Failure to follow through on her assignment means the board has issued a reward for her death. West has to survive, and get some answers.
The book is pure teenage girl YA; filled with anger, angst, confusion, love, betrayal. I’m pretty sure these are the ingredients necessary to make a classic YA book, and we definitely have them here.
West can’t wait to start her private life with her boyfriend Chord, and while she’s already planning having children with Chord, she hides everything from him. She doesn’t tell him what she’s doing, or why. But of course that’s part of the YA-ness here…the fifteen-year-old making mistakes and not trusting in the right people, and thinking she can handle it all on her own.
West is a well-defined, though clearly flawed, character. (Flawed is okay…we’re all flawed.) Chord is a bit of a patsy. He clearly cares about West and is willing to do anything he can to support her. Including not asking too many questions when he knows he won’t get answers from her anyway.
The board members we meet are all appropriately slimy and grouchy government types.
Other friends and persons we come in contact with are generally not particularly memorable but serve their purpose and no one strikes me as poorly created, just not full of depth.
The story is very unique. I read a lot of sci-fi/fantasy/YA and I don’t recall a theme quite like this. It’s perfect for a YA book…I love the idea of survival of the fittest by the necessity of killing your own twin. How perfectly manipulative! And the reason West is asked to do the additional ‘strikes’ also comes across as very believable in this world, but what West learns in the process not only throws open the door wide for another book, but really helps identify what sort of world we are in and what West and Chord might have to deal with.
There’s plenty of action, including an obligatory sword fight! West is well-trained and the fighting action really keeps the story moving along quickly.
And while I enjoyed the book, there’s something just a little bit hollow inside of me. I don’t know that I will take any of this book with me once I close the pages and finish this review. I wasn’t particularly attached to anyone here, and while I very much like the new-ness of the concept and the creation of the characters, this will never reach too high on my favorite books lists. I will rate it well (3.5) and I can definitely see where it will get a decent fan base, but it falls short when compared to other books I’ve read recently in the same genre. It just lacked that little extra ‘kick’ for me.
Looking for a good book? Divided by Elsie Chapman has all the ingredients for a superb, classic YA book and keeps the door open for book three in the Dualed series.
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author: Elsie Chapman
series: Dualed #2
publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
hardcover, 320 pages