Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Chosen Ones by Veronica Roth

Chosen Ones (The Chosen Ones, #1)
by Veronica Roth
Published April 7th 2020 by John Joseph Adams/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

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.

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4 Stars

I haven't picked up a dystopian-like novel in a long time, I've outgrown the draw of teen heroes, but when I heard that Veronica Roth had something for adult readers I knew I had to have it. Chosen Ones doesn't start like you'd think though, we're thrust right into an Earth post-war, the four Chosen Ones have won, it's ten years later and they are facing a different kind of battle. From the perspective of Sloane we follow the four friends as they figure out what's next, struggle with PTSD, and live in a world that views them as heroes. Sloane is unsettled though and with the ten year anniversary comes a new threat. Kidnapped into an alternate universe, the parallels to Earth are uncanny and they too have a Dark One to defeat.

I liked Sloane a ton, so even in the slow start of Part One I was sucked into Chosen Ones right away. I loved that Veronica Roth was making readers think about what it really means to have been chosen, what that life looks like for a hero. The five characters, Sloane, Matt, Esther, Ines, and Albie, all have different post-Dark One experiences and I thought we'd be getting a story about what it means to look up to those expectations, especially in a world that is still very similar to our current one. Roth initially mentions the racism Matt experiences while being considered the true Chosen One, Esther has turned this into a money making opportunity, we see snippets of drug abuse in Albie, we know Ines and Sloane have severe PTSD, but then all of that is tossed to the side as we fall into Part Two. Did I love Part Two and Three? Yes. I loved Sloane's story and her battle in Genetrix, but I feel like a great relevant story was just there waiting to be written and Roth dropped it in favor of the more captivating, fun plot. I really enjoyed the book, but I also think I would have loved the book we didn't get to read.

Part Two and Three are like entirely separate novels from Part One, suddenly we are thrust into Genetrix and Sloane is not the young hero she once was. She is hardened, she does not have patience, and she doesn't put up with false niceties. While there are other characters along for the ride, not only does Sloane's perspective give us a great sci-fi fantasy story, Sloane herself is easily the most interesting character. Her role as a Chosen One is so massively interesting in this new world, especially as truths are revealed and magic begins playing a huge part. Yes, that's right, magic. You get it all in Chosen Ones; heroes, antiheroes, villains, magic, action, and some highly necessary detailed descriptions of a world much like Earth, but also so very Steampunk.

Chosen Ones is a highly entertaining new release from Veronica Roth that introduces readers to a new adult-aged dystopian world. While I have my concerns, I really hate books written by authors that try to be relevant without doing the work, I'm a fan of Sloane and I really want to see where this series goes. This is not the usual heroes trope you're used to and I am here for it.

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