Last week, I got an email from Netgalley informing me I had been pre-approved for the second book in the Dualed series by Elsie Chapman. I remembered reading the first book in the series and it not really being for me, but I decided to give Divided a shot anyway. I am so glad I did. All the problems I had with the first book have all but disappeared, leaving a suspenseful, exciting, thrilling story that keeps you on the edge of your seat from the first page to the last.
In the first book, pacing was a real issue. Scenes felt either over-described or glanced over--there was never the right amount of detail. Not an issue in Divided. The plot moves along at a good clip, but not so quickly that you feel like you're missing out on information. The action scenes in this book are particularly well-described. I found myself cringing at every slash of a sword and waiting anxiously as West peered around each corner. And the plot twists just kept coming, one right after the other, each more shocking than the last.
In addition to the plot improvements, we are treated to a good amount of character development and world-building in this second installment of the series. The economy and society were fairly well sketched out in the first book, but the second book really does a fantastic job of filling in all the holes and making West's world feel real. Along with the world improvements, West and her companions are given much more well-defined personalities, and the relationships between them are fleshed out as well. I am not saying that the West-Chord romance is the best thing I've ever read, but it is definitely more believable than it was in the first book.
Really the only aspect of this story that drove me right up the wall was West's friend Dess. He has the uncanny ability of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, of making all the wrong decisions, and at the same time having little-to-no character development of his own at all. He speaks in cliches, acts in the most predictable and annoying fashions; he is little more than a glorified plot device that likes to whine.
Overall, Divided was a huge surprise. If you read Dualed and liked the premise but not the execution, you have got to pick up Divided. If you haven't read Dualed, but are intrigued by the the idea of a Spartan society where you must kill a clone of yourself in order to survive, go pick up the first book now and trudge through it and then read Divided. I promise it is worth it.