So, this book, like the last one, takes place in the city of Kersh, a city built in a wall like a dome. What's around the wall? The Surround, a place of starvation and war. Here, people have to prove their worth at a young age by battling coded twins called Alts, because of the food shortage and the fact that if someone ever came through the wall and tried to invade, they'd be up against a city of killers. West Grayer is now a complete, which means she succeeded in killing her Alt and proving herself the worthy one, something she wasn't sure about because of how poor she and her family was, not to mention all of her family was now dead unworthies. Well, she's no longer a striker but is called back into the business when a man from the Board called Sabian says he'll let her future kid not require an Alt if she can make up for the fact that by performing Peripheral Kills (PK's) she made Kersh weaker, by killing the Alts of his children. Only West doesn't believe in this and she feels the Board is keeping something secret about this. Plus, her former killer agent Dire has shown her a new type of weaponry, one that would be dangerous in anyone's hands. So now we have the sequel to Dualed and the conclusion to the duology. A sequel that's actually...really good!
I think the reason I enjoyed this book as much as I did compared with the predecessor was for three main reasons. One is that the fact this is the conclusion and there were a lot of goals I wanted West to go after, and West's words feel more inspired, the upcoming pages feel important and desirable. Second is that by this time, I think I'd gotten a little used to the unevenness of having a hero that commits murder. Yes, I hated it in Dualed, but this time, with the help of the first reason, I could be okay with a little brutal originality. Something I liked in the original book was that the setup of world building intrigued me and felt like this is exactly the type of world where kids die every day. Third is that there are more twists and turns to make me even more story invested. Oh, and there are interesting ideas about what it is like to become outside the field. When you live in a capsule like Kersh, would a life of hiding be worth living or is it better off if you just die? West sometimes talks about Sabian's idea of killing weakening the Board rather than saying it was cruel, which I raised an eyebrow about, but I feel that's something someone who has lived in Kersh and endured her war with her Alt would say. I'm putting myself in someone else's shoes here. I stated in my last review that everyone's names sounded like they were borrowed from Battlefield Earth. Obviously, there's still the case here but, again, now that I'm introduced to this world and know the characters a little bit better, it's a little bit forgivable. What are you gonna do?
I didn't think everything was perfect though, however most of this book's flaws come from the ending, not most of the book. Don't worry, it's not like the conclusion to Marie Lu's Champion, it doesn't explode. In fact, a good chunk of the third act was exciting and fist-clenching, but there were a few opportunities I felt didn't come. A portion of those make a mystery, a Bell Jar style "what-if" kind of mystery, which was intentional of author Elsie Chapman. My concern mostly has to do with the Board and how there might be a little too much left to guess. Another thing I didn't really enjoy was the decisions of this one character we met in the last instalment, one that I felt behaves in a bizarre and unrealistic way and would've sparked a mystery for us if more was emphasized on his actions. The actions of this one girl were I also felt a little...out of the park, but I thought about it and Chapman wrote it quite nicely and once again, I feel this is how someone would act growing up in Kersh and being under the sort of pressure the people have to be under. Most of all though, I enjoyed myself, enough to almost forgive the last instalment. I might even reread the last one to see if it really was awful. It seemed to have gotten me ready for Divided.
Divided is not perfect, but it's thought-provoking, and if anyone asked me if I wanted a third book to this series, my answer would be "I don't know." Maybe it's better off letting Chapman go do some new projects.