I received a free copy of this novel from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
If you’re a millennial woman, you’re familiar with Veronica Roth. Maybe you’re thinking, “Who?” Let’s be real with each other, we’ve all read Divergent, right? (And seen the films, where Shailene Woodley became very real hair goals for me.)
I won’t say She’s back! because that would be grossly untrue, she’s written other series since the mega hit that was the Divergent series. Chosen Ones (the first in, you got it, yet another series) was the first that made a blip on my radar. I’ll throw this in as “bonus content,” but I found it interesting that The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes was also released this year. Maybe this was year of the comeback hit.
It’s not that I am opposed to series. In my Little Bookshop of Murder review, I don’t dislike a good mindless series. Nancy Drew is a great example of a series totally unbound by time. (There are 56 original Nancy Drew mysteries – you mean to tell me this chick solved 56 high crime cases before she graduated? I think not.) My hang up is that you get a lot of long, drawn out books to complete a single story. I think we can all agree the Twilight series should really have only been one book. Harry Potter being the exception, more is more. Somehow I totally missed that Chosen Ones was the first in it’s series, I groaned out loud.
Before we get knee deep into a review, I’ll mention I read this on my Kindle and found that the formatting was very pleasant for an e-reader. Sometimes a book is really choppy and clearly not meant for anything other than a printed format, but I am happy to say that the flow was undisturbed. Save a tree if you can.
Ten years ago, a the government formed a group of five teenagers known as the Chosen Ones to defeat a magic-fueled, supernatural enemy called the Dark One. Fast forward the future, where everyone knows their name and they live in the limelight of fame, or perhaps infamy.
There are five Chosen Ones that fit a prophecy: Sloane, Matt, Esther, Ines, and Albie. Each has met the criteria mentioned and have been selected to take on the Dark One, who has magical abilities and has created atrocious crimes/massacres . It has now been ten years since the five defeated him and they are struggling to find their place as adults and in the normal world. Matt seems the most well adjusted, and Sloane (our main character)…
Sloane is a hot mess express. This is the issue with the Young Adult genre: the main character is usually a female person with a chip on her shoulder and something to prove. Sloane is absolutely no exception to that. It makes her less interesting to me, and instead, I gravitated towards Esther. Esther is not the traditional hero trope of this Young Adult scene and is portrayed as pretty flat most of the time, but she has layers. Sloane is irresponsibly angry. Another reviewed noted that despite being well into her 20s, she still acts like a pissed off teenager. And I agree.
Matt is a Black man, and I think Roth could have done a better job at writing him. I understand that she was trying to make a point that he experiences racism despite his status a national hero and also pointing out that America has a long, long way to go when it comes to equality. She’s not wrong, racism and prejudice is a huge issue not only in America but across the globe. That being said, she didn’t do it well.
The story was slow. This is my fear when it comes to series. I just read a 419 page novel only to realize that the story is going to take another 1,000 or so pages to wrap up. If it does. Trust me, I enjoy hanging on to quality characters as much as the next girl, but not if it sacrifices their quality. It seems that this book did more world building to set the groundwork for the rest of the series than it did fleshing out the characters of Matt and Esther. Major bummer, dude.
I’m not hating the premise. Actually, I’m intrigued. It’s been a long time since I read a story with interesting and believable use of magic. There’s a soft spot in my heart for a good science fiction novel. Was I head over heels in love with Chosen Ones? No. Will I pick up the sequel and continue the journey? Absolutely.