Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Kaniesha Reviews: Divided ARC by Elsie Chapman (spoiler warning)

Title: Divided
Series: Dualed #2
Author: Elsie Chapman
Release date: May 27, 2014
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Genres: dystopia, scifi
Goodreads, buy the book
The hunter becomes the hunted. . . .

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.

Review: I got an email from Netgalley that invited me to read Elsie Chapman's Divided, the sequel to Dualed, which I reviewed last year on my other book blog. I was very unimpressed with Dualed but I decided to give Divided a chance, in hopes that I'd like it. I did not. So please excuse this review for its length, I am aiming to be as detailed as possible because I paid as much attention as I could to break this down.

My biggest problem with these two books is the setting: Kerch and its general population. Kerch is a very large city somewhere in western America that is surrounded by a wall/fence. The people in Kerch are not allowed to leave and people outside Kerch are not allowed in. Typical dystopian setting, but whereas usual dystopias have people trying to get in and out of this wall, we have none of that here. I really don't understand why. I don't understand why people would allow themselves to be ruled in this manner - they don't even have control over their children's lives, but I'll get back to this - and not try to fight back or get out. They have never faced any threat from the outside world or heard anything about it. They simply let fear control them. In my opinion, this already doesn't make for a very good story.

Back to people not having control over their children's lives - in Kerch, everyone is an "Alt". Four parents come together to create two identical children that will eventually have to kill each other to prove themselves the "worthy one". The city is so large that the likelihood the children will ever see or meet each other is slim to none, especially because the city is divided into districts. However, these districts are not equal despite the Board's (Kerch's central government) claim and manifesto that they all need to be the best of the best for the ..best of the city. Again, I am confused by the lack of conflict caused by the inequality. When do people ever sit still when it comes to inequality, especially of this level? It is literally life and death here and those in certain wealthier districts, and Alts born to members of the Board, are immeasurably better off and more likely to win the battle against their Alts.

My second biggest problem with these two books is the main character, West Grayer, herself. She doesn't question anything, she doesn't have good relationships with anyone (not even her boyfriend!), and there is nothing about her personality that makes me want to like her. The majority of the plot of these books is her trying to face her problems while wanting to run away from them all. She does run away a lot - both literally and hypothetically - and where this would be alright because she is a 15 year old girl trying to keep her life, it is just irritating to read.

* Spoilers starting here
In Dualed, West is faced with her own Alt. She goes "Active" which means she and her alt have one month to find and kill each other or their genetic code will set them to self-destruct. Clearly, since their is a sequel, West kills her Alt. It takes a lot of effort for her to do so, and during that time period, she became a "Striker" which is when you illegally sign on to kill "Actives" for a fee. She does this to help her learn how to face her own Alt but I found it very frustrating because the time to face her own Alt is ticking down.

In Divided, West is called to the Board and "given" the opportunity to kill three Alts - three "idles" (meaning they haven't gone Active yet) - of the Board's children by a Board member named Sabian. West reluctantly accepts and starts her mission immediately. But one of her requests to accept his deal is to use one of the Board's unauthorized weapons. The weapon is designed with a special poison serum, that if aimed at specific places (the heart, temples) it would kill instantly. He accepts (though he doesn't like it). Later on, West goes to talk to the Striker leader and he tells her about the weapon and she ultimately decides to use it, specifically and only for the mission. She will aim the poison into the Alt's eyes so that it will disable/erase their genetic code, leaving them "free" but having to be on the run/hiding forever. West handles the first two targets with no problem but once she gets to the third, West's personal hell breaks loose when the alt turns his eyes to her's and she finds one of her "incomplete" (dead) brother's alt. Several reasons why this is dramatic: one, almost exact face and voice of her dead brother; two, because her brother is dead, that means this boy is a "Complete" like herself. There's a lot of drama after this including the climax of the book which fell really, really flat. West runs away again afterwards only to be found and challenged by the Board member's children because they're angry that they didn't get to fight to prove they were worthy, that she didn't have the right to kill their alts for them. Lots of actually good action scenes later, West has beaten the both of them and Sabian is dead.

But during the aforementioned climax scene we get information about why Sabian would want a Complete dead and it unravels to there being a very big government conspiracy going on. Plus, more information revealed near the end that Alts haven't needed to exist for a very long time. I really wish Chapman would've followed this plot line instead of West's personal one because though it's been overdone - teenagers saving their city/country/world - it'd have been a lot better than this angsty, questionable one.
* Spoiler ending

In the end, I don't know why I tortured myself with reading this. I think it was a challenge to myself to see what I could pick out. Dualed and Divided are barely tolerable if you're character-oriented like myself and I do not recommend them. It doesn't help that there's not anything to get behind, like a meaning or a message, which I think is incredibly important for dystopia books. People want something to believe in, you know?

Rating: 2.5/5 stars

1 comment:

  1. I wasn't that excited about Dualed either after I read it. It WAS pretty unimpressive and it sucks that the sequel isn't absolutely amazing :(