I applied for this ARC after talking a bit with the author on Twitter (news flash- she’s insanely sweet), totally not expecting to receive it, so when I did I was VERY excited. The idea of this book fascinated me from the beginning, and I’m happy to say that it exceeded my (rather high) expectations! (as always with ARCs, I’m using the GR summary)
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.
I think I loved this book because I love books that make me think. Books that make me challenge the norm, wonder why? What if the world was a certain way? (that’s why I’m often drawn to dystopians like this one). I’m almost sad to put this in a category, especially dystopians. They’re so stereotyped, often slandered among ‘serious’ book reviewers. This book is more than a book set in the future, because it might not be in the future. Kersh is a gated, isolated city, separating it’s inhabitants from the ravaging wars of the rest of the world. Sound familiar? While the technology used to create genetically identical twins from two sets of parents (you read that right) seems incredibly advanced and past anything we have now, it doesn’t seem far out of the realm of possibilities to me.
Also, it chilled me to the bone. The thought of being raised to fight, taught your whole life that to live, you had to be fierce, violent, unfeeling- it terrifies me. The world building is incredibly convincing, and I especially loved the main character. It bothers me that a lot of dystopian female characters are so cold, and unfeeling. (I’ve mentioned numerous times that this is the way I feel about Katniss) West has every reason in the world to be cold, every reason to block out all emotion. But somehow, she doesn’t let it get to her. At the beginning, she’s how you would expect a girl in her world to be- utterly grounded in what she needs to do. But towards the end, it’s great to see her really allow herself to feel.
Lastly, the romance. It really felt true and natural, almost like something that actually happened. I am drawn towards romance that is less blind passion and more slow and real, and this definitely did it for me. Thank goodness for the absence of a love triangle, that’s all I have to say.
I highly recommend this book, everyone! It kept me on my toes, never let me get too relaxed, and the romance melted my heart. I also love that the end wasn’t a cliffhanger, seeing as it will be more than a year at least before the sequel comes out! Look for this one in stores on February 26th, 2013!
*ARC kindly provided for me from the publisher via Netgalley*