Chosen Ones, Veronica Roth (John Joseph Adams Books 978-0-358-16408-1, $26.99, 432pp, hc) April 2020.
Veronica Roth is best known for the Divergent trilogy. With Chosen Ones, her first book for adult readers, she looks at what happens to the chosen ones when their quest is done and a decade has passed. Sloane, Matt, and the other three youngsters who took on the Dark One in Chicago ten years ago, have to figure out how to adult when they’ve already peaked.
For Sloane, whose viewpoint the story is told from, the answer is to flip between passive acceptance of what your life has become, which is one where you’re hounded by the press and too terrified to make any choices, and incandescent rage over same. She’s a woman who needs a new challenge in order to see how stuck she’s become in her post-hero life. Those around her, including fellow Chosen One and now fiancé Matt, have started to find their way through, which only ticks Sloane off more.
Fortunately, the universe (or, as we discover, universes) is happy to provide a new quest, one that three of the heroes of the past will need to take on to save us again – only nothing is what it seems – and Sloane may be the only one who sees it clearly or the only one who is letting her PTSD run the show.
There’s no doubt that Roth is great at storytelling. The pace clips right along as she draws us further and further into the world she’s created. Most of the characters are crisp and the language is efficient. Plus, Chosen Ones is also a love letter to an often forgotten American city – and the city itself figures into the plot just as much as the main characters do.
But while Roth gives Sloane and company a full range of emotions, the antagonists get only the one, for the most part, which is that they are bad guys because they want to be bad guys. That, unfortunately, telegraphs how the story will end and the last quarter of the book plods along to the inevitable.
Adrienne Martini has been reading or writing about science fiction for decades and has had two non-fiction, non-genre books published by Simon and Schuster. She lives in Upstate New York with one husband, two kids, and one corgi. She also runs a lot.
This review and more like it in the August 2020 issue of Locus.
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