Friday, June 12, 2020

Chosen Ones | Veronica Roth

The premise of this book is wonderful: five teenagers are brought together by a prophecy. They are the Chosen Ones who will, after enough training and mastery of various magical artifacts, defeat the Dark One who has terrorized their world. The book begins ten years after they do so, and thus we learn about each character after they've had ten years to live with the trauma of survivorship and saviorhood. 

It took me two and a half weeks to finish the book, and I suspect that it would have taken me a lot longer had I not given up on the digital e-book halfway through and started in on the Dakota Fanning-narrated audiobook version. (If you're deciding on which medium you'd like to purchase the book in, I recommend the latter.)

So, into the bad bits. Of all of the great things this book has to offer, a wholly captivating plot is not one of them. For a good chunk of the book, I didn't feel close enough to the story to feel compelled to keep reading. I wasn't immersed in the world, which made CHOSEN ONES a lot easier to put down and forget about for a few days. That being said: once I got through the sluggish-and-sometimes-awkward second act, I grew much more interested in the plot and more attached to the characters. 

Another "bad bit" (re: confusing bit, strange feature, odd afterthought) is the fact that of the five Chosen Ones, only one of them is featured prominently - her name is Sloane, and she's beautiful and smart but Not Like Other Girls - while the rest are either sidelined or not included at all. 

One of them kills themself early in the story and thus sets the plot into motion, another is quite one-dimensional despite the author's attempts to round them out with family tragedy, a third is characterized through their relationship to Sloane and the fairly non-dynamic dissolution of that relationship, and the final character is just...there. 

After the one character commits suicide, three of the other Chosen Ones are swept into an adventure that the fifth Chosen One just doesn't make it to, which was incredibly odd. Why have four remaining main characters if you're not going to bring them all along? Beyond that, why have three of them go on the adventure if only one of them actually accomplishes anything during that adventure?

Regardless of those qualms, I did enjoy the book and am glad that I read it. The form (style? organization?) of the book was particularly enjoyable, as the author includes various news-clippings, government documents, and other forms of media in between most chapters. They are not all immediately relevant to the part of the story they're situated in, but they all become important later on or help with the world-building in ways that the narrative wouldn't have been able to achieve on its own. They do for the book what I wanted the social media epigraphs to do in Chuck Wendig's WANDERERS. 

Plus, there are plenty of twists and now-I-need-to-go-back-and-reread-that-one-chapter reveals. I like when a book can surprise me, and though I wish that the final villain twist had gotten more screen-time, I felt validated in my decision to keep reading after the middle act because of it. (Also, I really love Sibyl, Ziva, and Mox. They made the book worth the read, too.)

Overall, I rate this book 3.5 stars (with an up-rate of 4 stars using Goodreads' system). If the premise is at all interesting to you, it's worth the 400 pages.

I received this book electronically from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This review is also posted on Goodreads, NetGalley, and Medium.

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