The burst of joy and triumph that had come after the Dark One fell had faded, and what was left was this niggling sense of dissatisfaction and the awareness of everything lost on the way to victory.
I, unlike most of the people in my class at school, never got around to reading the Divergent series (I’m going to get to them this year, I swear) though I did pick up Carve the Mark last year. But when I heard that Veronica Roth was writing an adult book, I just had to know what it was about, and then the incredible premise won me over instantly. Chosen Ones is out tomorrow April 7th 2020, and it’s a must-buy if you ask me.
Rating: 5 stars!
Thanks to Hodder & Stoughton and Netgalley for the advanced review copy of this book. It hasn’t effected my review in any way.
Read me for the:
- A kickass protagonist who doesn’t give a fuck if you like her or not
- Found family
- What happened after the world was saved
- World-building that’s interesting as hell
- Magic that bites back
When an otherworldly enemy, known only as the Dark One, is running a widespread reign of terror, destruction and death, it seems that the world’s only hope is the prophecy of the Chosen One. The Chosen One will fight the Dark One and win, and they’ve narrowed it down to five seemingly ordinary teenagers: Sloane, Matt, Ines, Albie and Esther. A clandestine government agency brought them together to help them save the world. But that’s old news.
It’s been ten years since the Chosen Ones defeated the Dark One near Chicago and while the champions are still celebrities the world has moved on. There’s a whole generation that doesn’t seem to remember the days of endless fear. Sloane remembers. Sloane can’t forget, even when she tries to. The paparazzi haunt her every day, and the Dark One haunts her every night. She’s never moved on, just drifted for ten years, until on the eve of the Ten Year Peace Celebration, a new trauma hits the Chosen: the death of one of their own. As they gather for the funeral at the site of their triumph, they discover that the Dark One’s reign may not have ended after all.
What did I think?
Within 9 pages I had a strong suspicion that I was going to be all in on Sloane, and I was absolutely right. She’s the very definition of unlikable, but that just made me love her. Sloane is harsh with absolutely no soft edges, and no interest in having any soft edges. She’s exactly as traumatised as you’d expect from someone given up by their family as a teenager to be thrown into battle against an otherworldy and terrifying evil. She’s jaded, distrustful, and suffering PTSD and insomnia like you wouldn’t believe. It’s totally realistic for the aftermath of a YA story. Sloane’s harsh attitude matches the narrative perfectly. It’s not written in first person but still it feels very much like it’s Sloane’s story, and we’re with her all the way. I just. Love her. The idea that her victory was just followed by dissatisfaction and misery, and a listless sense of not-belonging is what I’d expect from a Chosen One, not a happily ever after. It’s also clear from the start that she’s hiding something, but Veronica Roth does a good job of keeping that to herself until the critical moment without it feeling like we’re being cheated out of knowing.
The world-building is so interesting. There’s some things I can’t really talk about without spoilers, but everything is very carefully crafted. It’s our world, post-disaster. The Chosen Ones are celebrities now more than heroes, and people have forgotten what the terror and fear felt like. There are people who celebrate the Dark One, and people who believe that the Chosen Ones were overrated, and all of it feels like it makes perfect sense. I wish it didn’t, but we’ve got people waving Nazi flags these days, so I can see how it would happen.
Highlight below for slightly spoilery world-building discussion:
The parallel universe was a twist I didn’t even remotely see coming, but the way that it was created meant that it truly felt like a mirror image of our world. The differences made sense, were justified, while still having a fantasy air to them. Somehow realistic fantasy? I love it. The siphons were a brilliant magic system, and channelling magic through noise created a really vivid mental picture. I would love to see that on the screen to see huge fight scenes rippling with whistles and songs.
The premise itself is something I didn’t know I’d been looking for. I love Chosen One stories, and I love even more the After-The-Chosen-One stories. Trust me, my fanfiction history in the early 2010s would definitely show how much I love After-The-Chosen-One stories. (Harry would not have been an auror and I will die on this hill ffs) I haven’t seen a lot of After-The-Chosen-One books done really well, but this was the best of the bunch. It had hopelessness and depression and PTSD but it still carried an interesting plot with enough threat and mystery to keep me fascinated. It also handled the trauma and PTSD well. It never undermined how heavy the topics were, but it had a deft touch. There were moments of positivity, and funny moments, and even just moments where the weight was shared, and that stopped it from getting so dark that it was difficult to read.
The entire way through I kept loudly guessing at plot twists, and being almost right. It was impressive, the way that Veronica Roth gave us so many clues and so many opportunities to put the pieces together and I still jumped to several wrong conclusions before hitting the truth. It was so much fun to read. I got rug-pulled by about four different big reveals, and I loved every single one of them. Apparently there’s a sequel coming to this – I haven’t seen any announcements but it’s listed as ‘The Chosen Ones #1’ on Goodreads but honestly this can be read as a standalone but I would love to see more of this universe and these characters.
Add it on Goodreads here!