One of my guilty literary pleasures is reading dystopian thrillers, so I was ecstatic to be one of the first to devour an advanced readers copy of Veronica’s Roth’s dark, twisty sci-fi thriller, Chosen Ones (HMH). I’ve been a Roth fan since her blockbuster Divergent trilogy, and honestly, I could not put this new book down.
The story begins in an alternate 2020 where magic is accepted as a part of everyday life. A prophecy has predicted that, Sloane Andrews, a sarcastic, bitter loner, along with four other regular teenagers were the “Chosen Ones.” They possess the power to master magical objects and perform workings, and are enlisted by the government to destroy the Dark One, an evil power responsible for death and destruction on Earth.
Sloane has struggled to control her powers ever since becoming a Chosen One. She has also been traumatized by the events leading up to their final confrontation with the Dark One ten years ago. Since then, she’s been unable to sleep, maintain relationships and navigate the media scrutiny of her celebrity status as a Chosen One. Plus, she is hiding secrets that keeps her tied to the past. Sloane now abhors magic, especially her magical object — the Koschei’s Needle — believing that catastrophe results when it is uncontrolled. She simply wants to be left alone.
HEROES HAUNTED BY PAST AND ALTERNATE REALITY
In a futuristic Chicago, Sloane and her hero-colleagues, Matthew Weekes, Ines Mejia, Albert Summers and Esther Park are celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Dark One’s defeat. His maniacal fury leveled city blocks leaving crater-sized pits called Drains, killed their friends and family and wreaked havoc in a world that has not yet recovered. Similarly, the Chosen Ones have been left emotionally and physically scarred by their heroism, living with the challenges of the aftermath of saving the world — some better than others.
After further tragedy strikes, Sloane, Matthew and Esther are transported to a parallel universe of Chicago, where a new Dark One, called the Resurrectionist, is threatening the universe called Genetrix. The attacks and Drains have returned, and in Genetrix, magic is so widespread that it is used to perform the simplest of tasks like opening doors. Genetrix needs their assistance, and they can’t return home until they save the Earth once again.
Check Out Our Interview with Roth on Her Novel, Carve the Mark
The Chosen Ones reluctantly agree to help vanquish the Resurrectionist; however, Sloane struggles to master an easy magical device called a siphon, lacking the desire, the wanting, to perform magic. She has already saved the world once before, and frankly, she doesn’t understand the connection between these two worlds. Why should she save a society that has no impact on her own?
Esther, whose mother is dying back on Earth, and Matthew, the golden boy Chosen One who’s in love with Sloane, are more practical. They want to get the job done and go home, but the battle they face is one they could have never dreamed of.
A HUMAN FOE NOT TOO DIFFERENT FROM THE HEROES
Unlike Divergent, the enemy in Chosen Ones is human rather than bureaucratic, and the novel explores the themes of desire, betrayal, ambition, celebrity, trauma and recovery. To avoid flashbacks, Roth cleverly intersperses government documents, magazine and newspaper articles from both universes throughout the chapters to reveal the Chosen Ones’ backstories, the incidents leading up to their defeat of the Dark One as well as the Resurrectionist’s rise in Genetrix. By setting the narrative in 2020 Chicago, Roth has constructed an intriguing multi-universe — ours, the Chosen Ones’ Earth and Genetrix. Using Chicago and its landmarks as a backdrop adds realism to aid the reader, and Sloane, in their journey to discover the truth and justice.
In a surprising climax, our heroes discover that a fine line exists between the Dark One and the Chosen Ones, lies and truth, Genetrix and Earth. And ultimately, Sloane learns that by facing her fears, her true power lies not only in magic, but in her heart.
Chosen Ones will enchant readers. It’s truly a novel that, like magic, unravels time, space and dimension.