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Book Pick
of the Month

October 15
New reviews in
The Book Nook,
Odds & Ends and
Voices From the Past
Plus NEW Trivia Contest

October 1, 2020
Updated Convention Listings

Book Pick
of the Month

September 15
New reviews in
The Book Nook
Illustrated Corner,
Odds & Ends and
Voices From the Past

September 1, 2020
Updated Convention Listings

Previous Updates


Chosen Ones
by Veronica Roth
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26.99, 419pp
Published: April 2020

To begin with, I haven’t read many SF/F books published by HMH.  They don’t publish very many new writers, most of their stock are the classics of Tolkien, P.K. Dick and Stanislaw Lem. I mention that because this book is a bit different and their culture might be the reason.  My curiosity about this book started with the dustjacket.  It’s not a familiar image to SF/F readers; in fact, it was my thought that the cover was more typical of a romance.  But I’m glad I didn’t let it put me off; this was a fine story.

The world has discovered magic but it’s a bitter blessing.  The Dark One manifested in Chicago and darn near destroyed the entire city. A prophecy declared that a Chosen One would save them so the government went about looking for those who fit the description in the prophecy.  The city was saved by five teenagers who, when banded together, had the power to finally destroy the man or creature dubbed the Dark One. But the experience severely damaged Sloane and her best friend, Albie. The leader of the group, Matt, fared somewhat better but both Ines and Esther still have nightmares.  Ten years after, the five young people are still having trouble figuring out where they fit in after being the heroes who saved the world; it’s all kind of downhill from there. 

At a funeral for Albie, who finally couldn’t cope anymore, something bizarre happens:  Sloane, Matt and Esther find themselves at the bottom of the Chicago River and when they come out, they are not in the same world.

Chicago is both strange and familiar.  In this world, magic is prevalent and has its own fashion and technology; and they have their own Dark One named The Resurrectionist for reasons that become clear very quickly.  Sloane and her friends were deliberately summoned to this world by the most powerful magic practitioners.  It is explained to them very clearly and deliberately that they are expected to defeat the Dark One of this world or they will never be able to return home.  The terror of going against the creature again is almost more than Sloane or Esther can manage.  Matt, being the only really heroic one of the group, embraces the mission with Esther following closely behind.  Sloane, on the other hand, tends to be way more cynical and suspicious of motives.  So it is Sloane who discovers that their group is not the first Chosen Ones summoned from a parallel world; and it is Sloane who confronts the Resurrectionist only to find he isn’t at all what she expected.  But to get to the real truth about the connection between the monster in their world and the one in this world, she’ll have to betray her friends and risk her own sanity.

This was an intricate plot and not easily foreseen.  Much was made in the story about how magic needed the user’s intent or desire to make things happen.  This concept was pressed upon the reader over and over again…but it wasn’t until it wrapped up in the end that the reader could understand that all the events in both worlds were due to intent and desire.  The end was a bit quick; I think we were expected to feel anxiety as the team raced around Chicago to find who had survived the final confrontation but that fell flat.  By that time, the author had explained everything. I feel that the author kept too much behind the scenes without giving the reader any background to feel connected to the resolution.  But when all is said and done…I liked it for the two main characters, Sloane and the Resurrectionist, and the back story that supported the whole thing. ~~  Catherine Book

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