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Chosen Ones Hardcover – April 7, 2020
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Elsewhere by Dean Koontz
Learn more about this epic new thriller.
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From the Publisher
A Conversation with Veronica Roth
CHOSEN ONES is your first novel for adults, after you’ve had so many successful books in the YA space. Why did you want to write for a different audience? And how was it different?
At first, I really don’t consider audience. I think about the idea, the characters, and the plot, and then after I’ve figured those things out, I consider who the story is for. And that’s what separates a YA book from an adult book—who it’s for. So my approach to the book didn’t really change: I set out to write the best book I could, considering my characters’ psychology carefully, the same way I always do.
The biggest difference, then, was at the development stage, not the writing stage: I built a story that was fundamentally about adulthood. CHOSEN ONES isn’t about coming of age; it’s about maturing, taking responsibility for your place in the world, and realizing that pain doesn’t give you license to be a jerk.
It’s about learning that the battles you fought to get where you are aren’t over—they’re never over, but you get to fight them differently the next time around.
Your book follows five people who, as teenagers, saved the world. What made you interested in exploring this time in their lives?
CHOSEN ONES started with something I get asked a lot: if the Divergent series hadn’t ended the way it did (no spoilers), would the characters have gotten married and had babies and lived happily ever after? That’s not a question I can answer—for me, the ending of the series is the only ending—but the idea of a teenage chosen one’s “after” did stick with me.
The thing is, the significant “chosen one” stories of my formative years actually do explore what comes after. You can read about an adult Paul Atreides, Ender Wiggin, or even Harry Potter, but the focus of those continuations isn’t on the psychological impact of their childhood trauma in the immediate aftermath, because that wasn’t the primary concern of those authors. So while I don’t expect those books to be about how someone would cope with being famous for hurting someone (or many someones), I still had the question. And an unanswered question is the best foundation for writing.
What kind of research did you do for this book?
I had to learn a lot about history, particularly Chicago history. It’s hard to talk about without spoiling anything, but in CHOSEN ONES I developed an alternate history, diverging from our own in 1969. The tricky thing is, if you’re going to build an alternate history, you have to know a lot about the original one, so you know what you’re changing and why. My major areas of focus were the history of modern computing, the Space Race, the development of SONAR, and Chicago architecture, both its history and the design features of particular architectural movements. I also know what an “escutcheon” is, and how to break into a couple different types of locked door.
Your story turns the “chosen ones” trope on its head – but you obviously know and love that story formula. What are the “chosen ones” narratives that have changed your reading and writing life?
My formative “chosen ones” stories were Dune, Lord of the Rings, Ender’s Game, and Harry Potter. The incredible arrogance of Paul Atreides swallowing poison to become the Kwisatz Haderach, or the horrible moment when Harry finally hears the prophecy that winnows his future down to a single purpose—those moments are burned in my brain. Maybe it’s because I come from a highly individualistic culture, but there’s something so fascinating to me about a character singled out by destiny (or whatever) for a significant—and often terrible—purpose. The burden of it. The isolation. The mettle it takes to rise to the occasion. I love every part of it. And I have so many questions about it, too, particularly about what happens when we offload our responsibilities to select individuals—what happens to them? What happens to us? Do we want to believe in Chosen Ones who will fight our toughest battles for us, or do we want to become them ourselves? I don’t know. Maybe both can be true.
The other narrative I should mention is the one I wrote—Divergent is a Chosen One story. The main character, Tris, is singled out by her unique brain, but she also takes up the mantle by choice—and that interplay between fate and choice is a huge feature of Chosen One stories. In some ways, Divergent and CHOSEN ONES are a call and response. Tris is the idealistic young person who fights the battle; Sloane is the jaded adult who deals with the emotional and psychological aftermath. Their stories (and personalities) are quite different, but thematically, for me, they’re linked. I’m not sure I would have written CHOSEN ONES without first writing Divergent.
Your book is full of action, sometimes dark, but it can also be quite funny. Do you find it difficult to write humor? Why is it so important for this book?
There are a few things I’ve been actively working on in my writing since my first book, and humor is one of them. Humor is hard. I have tremendous respect for anyone who writes comedy. How do you think about comic timing in a work of writing, when people read at their own speed, when they can stop and start again at any time? How do you align what a reader finds funny with what you find funny with what your character finds funny? It’s not easy.
The reason it’s a priority for me is that humor is a big part of being human. It’s how we cope with the world, how we point out the world’s absurdities and injustices, how we form connections with people. On a craft level, too, I think that if you can give your book higher peaks, you can also give it deeper valleys. Humor is a powerful tool for a writer, and I want as many tools as I can possibly cram into this writing toolbox.
Beyond all that, though, it’s pretty simple: the older I get, the more I need to laugh.
—Kirkus Review (starred)
“With Chosen Ones, Veronica Roth keeps you guessing: playing with perception, multiverse theory, and the struggles that go along with being ‘chosen’ to save the world...she’s created a universe that you never want to leave.”
—Amber Benson, author of The Witches of Echo Park
“A hugely-imagined, twisty, turning tale that leads through the labyrinths of magic and war to the center of the heart”
—Diana Gabaldon, author of Go Tell the Bees that I am Gone from the New York Times best-selling Outlander series.
"Chosen Ones by Veronica Roth is the cure for all those humdrum 'one true savior' narratives. This dark, complex novel rocked my heart and left me with a renewed sense that saving the world is a job that never ends. Roth's version of magic is as flawed and fascinating as her characters, and her story keeps you guessing until the wild conclusion. You'll never look at fantasy heroes the same way again."
—Charlie Jane Anders, Hugo & Nebula Award winning author of The City in the Middle of the Night
“With Chosen Ones, Veronica Roth has pulled off a virtuoso performance, conjuring a stunning thriller/fantasy/sci-fi chimera like nothing I’ve read before, a story of ex-heroes struggling with the trauma of their past, what it means to have once saved the world, and the dark side of destiny.”
—Blake Crouch, New York Times bestselling author of Recursion
"Roth somehow manages to make universe-building look easy. She sets it all up--world, characters, premise--so smoothly that you hardly notice until you're a hundred pages in and hurtling down the tracks. An insightful exploration of desire and ambition that also touches on broader societal topics, including celebrity, social media, trauma and recovery. A thought-provoking novel with ample emotion and a sense of playfulness with form. And one more thing: when the inevitable adaptation of Chosen Ones hits the screen someday, I just hope it captures Roth's fascinating and original theory of magic."
—Charles Yu, author of Interior Chinatown
"Roth’s first novel for adults (after the wildly popular Divergent series for teens) is driven by Sloane, a stubbornly unlikable heroine who wears her troubles on her sleeve but doesn’t truly understand her full power until the shocking ending. Those who like twisty power plays and very detailed worldbuilding will appreciate this…The many fans of Roth’s YA series will be clamoring for her adult debut, which features magic, lots of sarcasm, and a hint of romance.”
- Item Weight : 1.4 pounds
- Hardcover : 432 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0358164087
- ISBN-13 : 978-0358164081
- Product Dimensions : 6 x 1.38 x 9 inches
- Publisher : John Joseph Adams/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (April 7, 2020)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #30,010 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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This book is centered around the character Sloane and her experience after being one of the "Chosen Ones" who defeated the Dark One. It took a couple of chapters to get an understanding of their world, but you are left with many questions that you have to keep reading to get the answers to. I love how the book has news articles or memos intertwined with the chapters so you can read other perspectives outside of Sloane's.
Sloane is a fierce female character much like other YA novels, but her world and story are unique and complex. There are surprising turns in every chapter. If you enjoy books such as Divergent, Harry Potter, or The Hunger Games, I would highly recommend this book. I think maybe the best thing about it for me is that it is a stand-alone novel, no waiting for the next book to come out so you can finish the story!
What I mostly hated was the lesbian erasure—what is the point of adding a lesbian character if you’re going to remove her from all the action? It’s the equivalent of JK’s “Dumbledore was gay” tweet. Same goes for Matt being black: sure you had him be The Chosen One in the original battle but then oops we didn’t kill the villain after all, here’s a white girl to finish the job. Sorry, babe, diversity isn’t something you can just sprinkle on like sprinkles on a cake.
Top reviews from other countries
- Great characters, especially the heroine. I love that they are all heroic yet a little annoying. Matt in particular felt very realistic.
- Lots of twists and turns, some of which I didn’t see coming, which is a nice change.
- It’s supposed to be an adult book, but the ‘chosen’ characters act like teenagers with teen emotions and concerns, being stroppy, impulsive, obsessed with media, issues with authority, scared of marriage, still emotionally coming of age, etc. I would definitely call this a young adult book despite the characters’ supposed ages. No-one in the book is thinking about adult preoccupations like starting a family / building a career / seeing the world etc.
- Some bits are crying out for an editor. Eg a mysterious man surprises the heroine, to quote the book: “‘I didn’t mean to startle you.’ She was glad she hadn’t taken off her bra the night before. ‘Did you follow me here?’ She asked.” Her bra? Wtf? Why is she thinking about her bra given the dangerous situation and why did she sleep in it anyway? Where on earth was the editor on this bit? Sounds petty but one minute I was enjoying a dramatic story and the next I was laughing my head off at the bad prose. Fortunately most of the book is very well written.
- the first third of the book is a fascinating reflection on the theme of coping with the fact that your life has already peaked. (Given extra pathos since the author was so successful so young). The second two thirds of the book are a classic ‘chosen one with exceptional magical ability defeats baddie while loving two hot guys in different ways’ type story. I loved both parts, but am not convinced they fitted together very well. I would have liked to read a climax to the ‘what if you have peaked’ theme. Don’t get me wrong the book climax is great, just has nothing to do with the themes raised at the beginning and I felt that “What if your life has already peaked?” question deserved an answer. (And I suggest the answer would be that you may have peaked at one thing, whether defeating evil villains or writing fiction, but you haven’t peaked at everything, so go try your hand at a new adventure in a new arena whether starting a family or ruling a magical world in a different dimension or whatever.)
- In the final few chapters a lot of information was revealed very fast, I still feel a bit puzzled about some of the backstory/motivation details and will need to reread it I think!
- Much better than most of this genre out there so give it a go.
Unfortunately, the author wrote an absolutely awful main character and an awful first half of the book. I was so close to DNFing, but i carried on, just to see if it got any better. Thankfully, the second half of the book is brilliant and the story /characters etc all get so much better.
3 stars because i still think the plot is genius. (imagine if you could read a novel set a few years after the demise of Voldemort! I would LOVE to read that.)
It started out good but then went off on a weird alternative universe that didn't quite work for me in this instance. I was also hoping for a decent romance in the book and didn't get one. In the end I skimmed the last parts of the book.
Good twists and turns and unexpected turns. Explores what actually happens in a story after the “happily ever after” - might not be so happy after all!
The only reason I didn’t give this book 5 stars, was quite simply there were a lot of unanswered questions and a little too much unnecessary historical context. Otherwise - the story was great, the characters had depth, and some key political issues were addressed if not at least mentioned.