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.
I must fully admit that what grabbed my attention with this novel in the first place was the awesome cover. Then I read the premise and was blown away by a story of a girl off to hunt down the alternate version of herself and how it all fit perfectly together.
Sitting down to dive into this book, I was immediately captivated by the world we find ourselves in. The city of Kersh has built walls to separate itself from war on the outside. But they live in fear of a breech so they set out to house only the strongest, their very own soldiers. Survival of the fittest, to the extreme. To flush out the weak, children are trained in combat as an Idle and sometime between the age of 10 and 20, they are activated and must hunt down their likeness within 31 days, or they will self-detonate. It is literally kill or be killed. It was very reminiscent of The Hunger Games in certain aspects.
The first chapter is not only excellent at giving you a glimpse into this world but it also packs quite the punch that left my jaw on the floor! I was literally hooked from that moment on. We meet our main character, West, and learn of her devastating background. She has lost so many people she loves in this society and it is so hard to imagine living somewhere where it is acceptable for violent acts to occur right in the open at any given moment.
West shuts herself off in many ways. She doesn’t want to lose anyone else she loves and she has to struggle within herself to find her self-worth. She makes a lot of decisions that I completely did not understand and wanted to slap her for. I literally yelled at the book, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! I just could not fathom her reactions. In order to gain more training, she willingly becomes a contract killer known as a striker. I am not sure if it was due to her transition to this new life feeling so sudden or what, but this is probably my only gripe with the novel. I was surprised how easily this girl from the first couple chapters transitioned so seamlessly into this new role.
This story is very much focused on West and her fight with survival, but weaved in with just the right amount of presence is the romance with Chord, a family friend. It is hard to consider it much of a romance because it is very much on the back burner and not West’s focus, but at the same time, it was her focus. I know that doesn’t seem to make sense, but she wanted to do this all on her own, to push him away from her and away from the danger. And Chord was committed to being there for West in any and every way she needed. That is a relationship I can’t help but root for.
Overall, the plot was was exciting and engaging. It was one intense moment after another that had me on the edge of my seat and guessing until the very end. I have no idea what to expect with the sequel but I cannot wait to find out!
Check out the other stops on the tour!
2/25/13 Sarah @ The Book Life – Tour kick-off and Interview w/ Elsie
2/26/13 Jenna @ Making the Grade – Guest Post
2/27/13 Kristan @ Lost Amongst the Shelves – Review
2/28/13 Anna @ Literary Exploration – Guest Post
3/1/13 Inky @ Book Haven Extraordinaire – Review
3/2/13 Joli @ Actin’ Up with Books – Guest Post
3/4/13 Sara @ Forever 17 Books – Review
3/5/13 Tara @ Hobbitsies – Guest Post
3/6/13 Lilian @ A Novel Toybox – Guest Post
3/7/13 Kayla @ Bibliophilia, Please – Review
3/8/13 Emily @ Emily’s Crammed Bookshelf – Review
3/9/13 Michelle @ Passionate Bookworm – Review