by Elsie Chapman
Release Date: February 26, 2013
You or your Alt? 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.
Elsie Chapman's suspenseful YA debut weaves unexpected romance into a novel full of fast-paced action and thought-provoking philosophy. When the story ends, discussions will begin about this future society where every adult is a murderer and every child knows there is another out there who just might be better.
Synopsis from Goodreads.
I almost feel guilty for loving this book. Guilty in the same way as reading Hunger Games, or watching Battle Royale makes me feel. Kids killing kids shouldn't be entertaining. Seriously. But seriously this book is the shiz! Big bad government forcing kids into an impossible situation, in order to prove their worth.
I do my best to avoid any and all reviews before reading a book. I don't want my opinion to be swayed, one way or another. After finishing this book, though, I spent a little time checking out what other people thought about it. I was surprised to see that the star rating wasn't nearly as high as I thought it would be. I mean... there's blood and violence, intrigue, a little romance. How can you go wrong? Well, apparently people felt that the MC, West, isn't likeable. I only have one thing to say to that: Do you want your MC to be perfect? Of course not! That would result in the most boring book ever written! You have to have a character who is flawed in some way, or there wouldn't be enough conflict. Give them time and space to learn! And believe me when I say that West has a lot of room to grow! She spends so much time avoiding making decisions that she ends up making some life altering bad decisions by default. Her motives and actions may be somewhat mysterious, but I found myself being pulled along with West on her attempts at a solitary, and violent, existence.
I did find one big, giant, gaping hole with the story. Why on earth do they live this way? Why do the people accept the government's reasons for being forced to kill their Alt? I mean, this is the government that is able to manipulate genetics, to create cloned twins. Why aren't they just creating better fighters, stronger, faster? Maybe it's to keep everyone occupied so they don't start a revolution? Make them appreciate whatever life they have, no matter how crappy it is? After coming up with all these questions about the motives, I finally threw my hands up in the air and said, "Meh. It's fiction." Whatever. It's fun.
Please don't look too deep into this story for a moral. There are no great lessons to be learned. No meaning of life. While the characters do at least grow enough to accept the consequences of their actions, they come out on the other side the same shade of grey as they were at the beginning. And yet, I'm okay with this. I went into reading this book expecting action, and that is exactly what I got. Total satisfaction achieved! And lucky for me, the ending wasn't an extreme cliffhanger, so I can contentedly wait for the second installment.
A copy of this book was provided by Netgalley. Thanks!