“The Drain looked the same every time, with all the people screaming as they ran away from the giant dark cloud of chaos but never running fast enough.”First line in Chosen Ones by Veronica Roth
Author: Veronica Roth
Published: April 7th 2020
Buzzwords: chosen one PTSD, Chicago, urban fantasy
Synopsis: 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.
I’m so confused about my own feelings towards this book by Veronica Roth that I had been highly anticipating. The premise of exploring the aftermath of saving the world is such an intriguing idea. However, a book needs more than that and I overall felt that there were several areas where I found this book lacking.
We start off by being introduced to a group of 5 chosen ones – Sloane, Matt, Ines, Esther and Albie – ten years after they defeated The Dark One. Through the entire book, however, we only follow Sloane and her POV. I have previously called for more fantasy books to only have one POV, but in this case, I actually think that was the book’s first mistake. When you clearly have a group of 5 people, I would have loved for the POV to switch between them. Maybe not all of them but still more than one.
The story gets a little repetitive and stale through Sloane’s constant POV. We only get her struggles and thoughts and those kind of went in a circle. So for a book that deals with the PTSD of being the chosen one, I would have loved to seen the differences in the way the character’s handled it. But no, this book is only about Sloane.
And speaking of Sloane… she’s not that great. Which I think is the point. That is what I thought was really well done in this book. She’s clearly meant to an unlikeable main character. She’s selfish, rude, childish and has a certain dark sense of humor. Her characterization, however, is done so that is makes sense why she’s like that. It really fits her character. Personally, I think I’m too much of a Hufflepuff to appreciate these sorts of characters, so it didn’t exactly make me love the book. Nevertheless, if that is your jam, I think you might like this book.
So now that we’ve discussed Sloane, let’s talk about everyone else because this is where I was really disappointed. Every other character is actually seriously underdeveloped and seem only to appear when they need to push Sloane’s story along. Which really is such a shame because they could have been really interesting. The other chosen ones, for example, seemed to be dealing with their PTSD in different ways but we never really got to see it. It would have been great with something to break the monotony of the story.
The plot of this book is difficult to talk about in a review because it doesn’t get revealed until quite late in the book, so it’s really a spoiler to say anything about it. Besides the fact that it took waaaay too long for us to get to it, I did find it surprising and a good twist. However, the pacing of this book sort of killed it for me. Everything was drawn out and the book could easily have been shortened. For one, I could have done without all the detailed descriptions of buildings that seemed to be the most important even in high-stakes scenes.
Another thing I wish hadn’t been in the book were the snippets of documents that preceded most chapters. We would get excerpts from interviews, news articles, top secrets reports etc., but they might as well have been titled “Info Dumps“. My main problem with them wasn’t even that but the fact that they weren’t written as proper articles, reports etc. They were clearly just written for me to tell me stuff instead of being written for the people in the world of this book. It pretended to be real but it so clearly wasn’t that it pulled me out of the story every time. They were also so confusing that I got very little out of them.
I think I’ll stop rambling now. Do I recommend this book? Yes. If you think Sloane sound like your new favorite character, then yes, I think you’ll like this book. If you’re also into slow-paced fantasy stories that focus more on psycological trauma than fighting the bad guy, this might be your book.