Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Review: Divided

Elsie Chapman
Dualed Series/Book 2
Young Adult/Dystopian
Random House/May 27, 2014

West Grayer is done killing. She defeated her Alternate, a twin raised by another family, and proved she’s worthy of a future. She’s ready to move on with her life. The Board has other plans. They want her to kill one last time, and offer her a deal worth killing for. 

But when West recognizes her target as a ghost from her past, she realizes she’s in over her head. The Board is lying, and West will have to uncover the truth of the past to secure her future.

How far will the Board go to keep their secrets safe? And how far will West go to save those she loves? With nonstop action and surprising twists, Elsie Chapman’s intoxicating sequel to Dualed reveals everything.

If you haven't read the first book, Dualed, you might feel a little lost when starting Divided.  There is back story given but you get a greater understanding of the main characters and the world if you have read Dualed, which tells how West and her boyfriend Chord got to the point they are at now.

The world West Grayer lives in is a lot like our world on the surface.  There are families living in what looks like either cities or the suburbs with kids heading off to school and hanging out after school but just beneath the surface is a completely different world.  A world where children learn to kill because if they don't they will be the ones killed.  It is a bleak existence for these kids, knowing someday they will have to kill their someone who looks like them - their alt.  The survivor is the one deemed worthy to defend their world from outside forces.

West Grayer isn't an easy character to like.  There are some reasons to feel sympathy for her, her home life is filled with loss of family and friends because of the system of Alternates (Alts) killing each other.  Some of the decisions she makes are very hard and not always easy to understand.  In Divided, reinforced is the fact that survival is ultimately all that drives West.  She needs to survive not just for herself but for Chord and for those she's lost.  Still, she makes some brutal choices that make her less than easy to like.

The idea behind Kersh and the Alternate program is for the city to be comprised of the best fighters in order to defend themselves from the Surround which is everyone outside Kersh's walls.  There are some glaring problems with this plan.  First off, not everyone has the same opportunities for training.  It reminded me of the Hunger Games with the twelve districts and the huge economic discrepancy between districts.  It is why West decides to become a Striker, so she can afford better training.  This also leads to some Alts or their family members having the money to hire Strikers to take out their Alts so they don't have to fight them.  How does this provide Kersh with the best possible Alt remaining?  It would make more sense if the Alts were to fight it out in a supervised arena. Sick but more fair and no chance for innocent bystanders to be hurt or killed, which does happen.  Or better yet, train the teens to become an army to defend the city.  Why none of this was not questioned by the general population, especially parents of kids who are dead, I don't know.

It does turn out that things are more complex and truths are revealed behind the reasoning of the Alternate system.  While we do learn more of how and why Kersh came to be, I still found the world West lives in depressing.  The one standout of the story is the writing.  I just wish the world of Kersh made more sense.

Rating: C

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