Review: Dualed by Elsie Chapman

dueledDualed by Elsie Chapmen

Published February 26th 2013 by Random House

Buy this book at: B&N / Amazon / Book Depository / Books A Million

 

Synopsis:

Two of you exist.

Only one will survive.

The city of Kersh is a safe haven, but the price of safety is high. Everyone has a genetic Alternate—a twin raised by another family—and citizens must prove their worth by eliminating their Alts before their twentieth birthday. Survival means advanced schooling, a good job, marriage—life.

Fifteen-year-old 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. 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.

 

Rating: 4 star

 

Review:

This has to be one of my most highly anticipated book in months. I fell in love with the cover, I’m still in love with the cover. It is spectacular. I also loved the synopsis. The idea behind this book is one that I recognized could be either amazing or terrible, it all depended on execution. This was executed well. Some things probably could have been better but overall as a story I loved it.

The good:

West- She was a fantastic heroine. I found her to be smart, brave, loving, and normal. Unlike a lot of YA heroines, she believes herself to be subpar but isn’t perfect at everything in reality. We all know the heroines I meant. “Man I suck so bad, except for my perfect looks, perfect boyfriend, perfect hair, and inability to do anything that isn’t perfect.” West doubts herself but she’s reasonable in her doubt. She is a normal girl, good at some things and not so good at others. She neither believes she’s amazing or believes she’s terrible at everything. I found her very likely for that reason. I didn’t always understand her motivations but she always made me believe that she was a very girl who was trying her best to do the right thing.

Ending- I will be the first to admit it, I didn’t see the ending coming. Not even a little bit. Of course most of these kinds of books end in one way. The hero/heroine realized how wrong the system is and tries to subvert it in any way possible. That is what I was expecting but it’s not what I got. At this point I am at a loss for how the series will progress but I will be thrilled to find out. I am in for the long haul on this series and I think the ending played a large part in that. Best of all, the ending could serve as the perfect ending for a stand alone story. It was a satisfying end to that story that I wouldn’t mind if it ended right here but there’s still enough of a story to keep going with it too.

Narrative/World Building- West was a good narrator for the book, I liked her thoughts and didn’t mind being inside her head. Sometimes I thought she was being something of an idiot, but still didn’t mind her narration. The world building was good enough that I didn’t have any trouble at all picturing it in my head. I couldn’t quite get a grasp on the rules for the world but it was well put together for the purposes of the book.

 

The not so good:

Alts- Obviously the Alts were being presented as the protagonists of the book, but I felt that this limited the book in a lot of ways. The Alts are not necessarily the bad guys, we only perceive them that way because our character, West, is being pursued by hers. So since we’re supposed to be on her side then her Alt is automatically the bad guy. But if you honestly look at it then her Alt is going through exactly the same thing as West is. She also has to fight her Alt to the death and leave her family to do so. She also doesn’t know if she’ll be alive or dead in 30 days time. So ultimately they have the same path. I would have liked to see both West and her Alt and get sympathy for both of them. It would have made it less about us versus them and more about us being pitted against them unwillingly.

West as a Striker – I didn’t understand that decision at all. It seemed to come out of left field. Why did she want to do that? Why did she think that would help? And even if she thought it would help, why did she continue after being declared active? It puzzled me all the way through the book. It was an interesting part of the story but since it seemed to have so little effect on the character or the final outcome then I have to wonder, what was the point? Maybe this will be explained later on in the series but I didn’t get what the author was trying to go for.

It used the two most cliched phrases ever- “His eyes darkened briefly.” and “I released a breath I hadn’t realized I was holding.” Authors, please please please I beg you, stop writing these things! It makes me cringe every time I see them. Really it does. Enough is enough. I am banning those phrases from the English language forever.

Much more positive than negative and I can honestly say that I couldn’t put it down. I sat on my couch and ignored the world for the entire last 130 pages, with no break. I just had to see how it would end. If nothing else tells you whether I’d recommend this book, that should.

 

 

 

Review: Breed by Chase Novak

breedBreed by Chase Novak

Published September 4th, 2012 by Mulholland Books

Picture and synopsis from the Goodreads book page

Buy this book at: Book Depository / Amazon / B&N

Synopsis:

Alex and Leslie Twisden lead charmed lives-fabulous jobs, a luxurious town house on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, a passionate marriage. What they don’t have is a child, and as they try one infertility treatment after the next, yearning turns into obsession. As a last-ditch attempt to make their dream of parenthood come true, Alex and Leslie travel deep into Slovenia, where they submit to a painful and terrifying procedure that finally gives them what they so fervently desire . . . but with awful consequences.

Ten years later, cosseted and adored but living in a house of secrets, the twins Adam and Alice find themselves locked into their rooms every night, with sounds coming from their parents’ bedroom getting progressively louder, more violent, and more disturbing.

Driven to a desperate search for answers, Adam and Alice set out on a quest to learn the true nature of the man and woman who raised them. Their discovery will upend everything they thought they knew about their parents and will reveal a threat so horrible that it must be escaped, at any cost.

Rating (out of 5): 1 star

Review:

As much as I was looking forward to this book, by the end I hated it.  No, hated it not a strong enough word.  I loathed this book.  So many times I wanted to put it down and never pick it back up, but I soldiered on until the very last page and began to wish I had followed through with the urge to abandon it.  This book was a perfect example of a great idea that was executed terribly.  This was written by bestselling author Scott Spencer, under the pseudonym Chase Novak.  I, for one, will not be checking out anything under either name.  This saddens me because I was looking forward to this book so much that I suggested it for my online book club to read, that ended up being a very poor decision.

***Warning:  From this point forward this review may contain spoilers.  Stop reading now to remain unspoiled.***

The basic premise of this was intriguing.  An affluent couple who is so desperate to have a child that they travel to an unknown part of the world to have an unknown procedure performed on them.  Here is where I ran into my first problem.  At one point Leslie decides not to go through with the procedure.  I can’t argue with her, she’s in a country she’s never heard of, in a filthy office, about to be injected by a weird doctor with something and the doctor won’t tell her what it is.  She starts hollering and the doctor orders her husband from the room…and he complies!  For all he knows they are holding her down and injecting her against her will!   I was furious on her behalf.  But then I got furious with her.  She just lets it go and proceeds on their lives together, including having sex with him that same day!  I would have gotten a good divorce lawyer before I was out the door of the office after beaning the doctor in his skull with my foot!  So that bothered me.

Another huge problem I had with the beginning of the story was the POV.  It was written in third person omniscient.  So it basically read like a news report.  We would see what was happening and how it happened.  But we’d have no idea why it happened, what they thought or felt about what happened, or any of the details that make you care about the characters.  At one point Alex grabs a small rodent and eats it and I had no idea why.  Since i didn’t know if this was an impulse he’d struggled with or a thought he couldn’t ignore anymore it had all of the significance of a pointless sidenote.  For that reason I found that I didn’t really care about Leslie or Alex because the only things I could see about them were ignorant, selfish, and horrendously stupid.

After the twins are born the POV shifts to third person close, which was slightly better than before but by that point I just didn’t care.  I didn’t care about the characters, I didn’t care about the plot, I wanted something to happen. Yeah yeah, I get it the parents are monsters now.  They are fighting off the inhuman urge to eat their children.  Gotcha, now let’s do something with it.  What they did was that the twins ran away and spent most of the book running from their parents.  Along the way they discover other kids that are like them and who have parents like them.  Apparently there are hundreds of these people wandering around and yet…no one else in the world has noticed.  That stretched my reality a little too far to be believable.

We also learn a little bit about the original doctor and what was in the original shots.  A very little bit.  I was excited about that and expected this story to become a quest for answers.  But it didn’t.  We were still on some stupid chase from the parents which was boring and starting to drag.  When the parents finally catch them I thought, yay good stuff coming!  Nope, it just kind of stopped.  Complete with some death and mayhem.  And THEN we go on a quest for answers back to the original doctor.  All I could think was, “Why did no one think of this in the last 10 years?”  But even that proved worthless because there were no answers to be had.  The plot never went anywhere and then you reached the end and realized that you had spent several hundred pages on a pointless quest for nothing.  This plot had so much potential and all of it was squandered.  When I reached the end of the book I was mostly relieved that it was over.  If there is a sequel, I will buy it only to tear out off the pages and shred them by hand.  I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone.  All that you’ll gain from it is feeling vaguely nauseous and then being angry that there was no pay off for the grossness.