This post was first published on my Tumblr on May 9, 2013, and is now updated with my experiences since then.
I just finished reading this book, Dualed, and I thought it was a really good story. It’s written in present tense, so it actually feels like you’re there with the protagonist, West Grayer.
*WARNING: SPOILER AHEAD*
The story is set in the future, where the world has dissolved into chaos and only a small section of America has been set up for safety. The people there are bred to be killers and soldiers, in case the walls around the city are breached and they need to defend it.
How this works is through a very twisted rite of passage. Everybody has a genetic twin, called an Alt or Alternate. Each twin is born to a different set of parents and lives in a separate part of the city. They are totally identical except for their upbringing and are known as “incompletes”. Anytime between the ages of 10 and 20, they can be “activated”. When they are, their eyes will be imprinted with their assignment number and the Alts have just 31 days for one of them to eliminate the other. If they don’t, the assignment number in their eyes will self detonate, causing both Alts to die. If one Alt kills the other Alt, the survivor becomes “complete”.
The reason for this is The Board (the governing body of the city) says only the stronger Alternate can survive. They need people capable of killing and doing whatever it takes to survive.
The story follows West as she goes through the tragedies of losing her whole family one by one, each dying to their Alternates or as innocent bystanders during someone else’s assignment (known as Peripheral Kills or PKs). She’s been training for her assignment her whole life, but when it finally comes, she feels she’s not ready and goes on the run. During that time, she becomes a Striker, an assassin for incompletes to hire to kill their Alternate. This is frowned upon, as it is somewhat cheating, but The Board is too busy to do anything about it. (Remind you of anything?)
She reasons that she needs the training only being a Striker can provide. The practice of killing and the ability to be numb to any and all feeling. She keeps running away, pushing away Chord, the last remaining person alive who loves her, believing that it will keep him out of danger of becoming a Peripheral Kill. When West’s Alt threatens Chord’s life, West finally confronts her and kills her Alt, at last freeing herself from the burden that kept her running.
Throughout the story, signs from the Board are shown all over the place, signifying the inevitability of it all. The phrase “Be the one. Be worthy.” is rampant as well, not unlike the Hunger Games’ “May the odds be ever in your favour”.
My takeaway from this story is that your greatest enemy is yourself. When you finally face who you are, are you strong enough to do the right thing? Your whole life boils down to just one moment. One moment that will either crush you, or free you forever.
Are you the one? Are you worthy?