Review: Chosen Ones by Veronica Roth

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.

This is the first book by Veronica Roth I’ve read, despite her other books being on my radar as potential reads for years. I was intrigued by the premise of ‘Chosen Ones’, the looking in on the heroes of the story ten years later and seeing how their lives are now. It’s not a take on the chosen one trope I’d seen before.

For me it felt very much like a book of three parts. I was immediately grabbed by the story which has a heavy focus on Sloane – one of the five chosen ones who brought down the Dark One ten years previously. However as the lives of the five are still intertwined we get to see how all five of our heroes are managing to varying degrees.

Sloane was a brilliant character, heavily changed by her time as a teenage ‘Chosen One’ she suffers PTSD and has never really been comfortable with herself. I loved the first third of the book as we learnt more about her and how she manages to live her life now.

I struggled a bit when the book changed pace in the middle, I’m sure for other readers that change will have really worked and it did to some degree echo what our characters were going through, but I felt it removed me from the story a little. I’m pleased I persevered with it though as the last third grabbed me again and I enjoyed it a lot more.

The mix of present day and flashbacks to ten years previously worked well to tell the whole story. A few of the revelations took me by surprise and instantly made Sloane’s behaviour a lot more understandable. The slow drip of information throughout the book worked well for rounding Sloane out as a character by showing us her past experiences rather than just telling. I did work out of few of the ‘hidden’ plot points ahead of the big reveal although this didn’t affect my enjoyment of the story.

This is a dark story that definitely needs some trigger warnings – suicide, torture, PTSD, being held against will are them main ones but feature heavily throughout. If you like your ‘Chosen One’ stories in the softer variety this definitely isn’t the book for you.

Overall I enjoyed ‘Chosen Ones’ even if I did get a bit bogged down in the middle.

With thanks to Hodder and Stoughton and Netgalley for a copy in exchange for honest review.

Chosen Ones is available now.

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