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My name is Ardis and I am an avid reader and budding writer. I want to share my love of books with others. I work with kids and am interested in finding and creating books that will ignite the reader in everyone. Contact me at: ardis.atkins@gmail.com

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Saturday, June 27, 2020

ARC Review: Chosen Ones by Veronica Roth




Please Note:  I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  This did not influence the opinions in my review in any way.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

The first novel written for an adult audience by the mega-selling author of the Divergent franchise: five twenty-something heroes famous for saving the world when they were teenagers must face even greater demons--and reconsider what it means to be a hero . . . by destiny or by choice.

A decade ago near Chicago, five teenagers defeated the otherworldly enemy known as the Dark One, whose reign of terror brought widespread destruction and death. The seemingly un-extraordinary teens—Sloane, Matt, Ines, Albie, and Esther—had been brought together by a clandestine government agency because one of them was fated to be the “Chosen One,” prophesized to save the world. With the goal achieved, humankind celebrated the victors and began to mourn their lost loved ones.

Ten years later, though the champions remain celebrities, the world has moved forward and a whole, younger generation doesn’t seem to recall the days of endless fear. But Sloane remembers. It’s impossible for her to forget when the paparazzi haunt her every step just as the Dark One still haunts her dreams. Unlike everyone else, she hasn’t moved on; she’s adrift—no direction, no goals, no purpose. On the eve of the Ten Year Celebration of Peace, a new trauma hits the Chosen: the death of one of their own. And when they gather for the funeral at the enshrined site of their triumph, they discover to their horror that the Dark One’s reign never really ended.

Review:
No one does dystopian novels like Veronica Roth.  Full of nods to her beloved Chicago and its rich history, this book reads like a sequel to the Harry Potter series, but much more dark.  Although I found the ending to be a bit strange, I really enjoyed this book.

What I Liked:
Setting:
The novel begins ten years after  an epic battle between good and evil.  A group of teens, all "Chosen Ones" have defeated an evil mastermind known as "The Dark One".  Although the names are not exactly original, they represent the typical tropes of this genre.  This is rather cool. You have the leader of the group, Matt (who everyone assumes is the true Chosen One) and his group of Scoobies.  Sloane, Albie, Esther, and Inez.  What makes this novel different is that now that the group has matured, they are all at a crossroads.  How will they live out the rest of their lives?  How do you move on when you know the most important thing you will ever do is behind you?

I also loved that in the aftermath of defeating The Dark One, they are dealing with a level of celebrity unparalleled in history.  Each deals with it differently.  Matt becomes a philanthropist, Esther is an Instagram influencer, which allows her the independence to return to her family to take care of her dying mother.  Albie and Inez are working through depression and cases of PTSD.  Sloane, who is the focus of this novel, is trying to find a way to live with the difficult choices she made during the defeat of The Dark One.  She also hates her celebrity status.  If she could figure out a way to live alone in a cabin in the woods, she would do it.

Characters:
I really liked that Sloane was not a character one would instantly like.  She is not lovable, at all!  That is mostly because she feels such overwhelming guilt for the things she did in the group's defeat of The Dark One.  Although Matt is presented to the public as the group's actual Chosen One, it is Sloane who has the most affinity for magic.  Her relationship with magic is complex.  She is most powerful when she gives in to her darkest longings for violence.  She knows this is NOT a good thing, so she is in a constant battle to tamper down her impulses.  When she lets go, very bad things happen.

Story:
I think the story really is an exploration of discovering who you are, and accepting it.   Sloane, in particular, has difficulty accepting who she is.  This compels her to do what everyone expects (settle down with Matt), but she isn't truly happy.  Can Sloane make peace with her mistakes and find a way to live for herself?  Is that selfish?  Probably.  But it's also vital for her, and anyone else.  You are doing yourself a real disservice by doing only what everyone else thinks you should do, rather than being your authentic self.

I can't get into the actual storyline without giving away massive spoilers.  But I will say that there are lots of characters who are different than how they appear at first.  There are reversals of who is good and bad, which makes this book unpredictable and fun.


What I Was Mixed About:
Although the story centers around Sloane (and to some extent, Matt), I didn't feel like the other Chosen Ones were completely fleshed out.  I wish the author would have delved more deeply into what each one did during their earlier battles with The Dark One.  What was it about each one that made them special?  We never find out.  One of the characters, Inez barely makes an appearance in the book at all.  One would hope that she would be more prominent in future installments of the series.

Rating: 


Release Date:  April 7th, 2020

Author:  Veronica Roth

Publisher:  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Press

Genre:  New Adult Fantasy

Source:  NetGalley

Format:  E-Book

Recommendation:  A solid adventure with insights into twenty-something angst.  A must read for fans of Veronica Roth














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