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Chosen Ones: The new novel from NEW YORK TIMES best-selling author Veronica Roth Kindle Edition
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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 review
“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 and 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 best-selling 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
--This text refers to the paperback edition.
About the Author
Though she was born in Mount Kisco, New York, Veronica’s family moved to Hong Kong and Germany before settling in Barrington, Illinois. In elementary school, Veronica read constantly, but it wasn’t until she got a “make your own book!” kit from her mother as a gift that she thought to write anything of her own. From that time on, she knew she would write for the rest of her life, whether she was published or not. She wrote the manuscript that would become Divergent in her free time while attending Northwestern University, where she graduated magna cum laude with a degree in English Literature with Creative Writing in 2010.
She is a board member of YALLFest, the biggest YA book festival in the country, and YALLWEST, its sister festival. She currently lives in Chicago with her husband and their dog, Avi, whose adorable existence is well-documented on Instagram.
--This text refers to the paperback edition.
- ASIN : B07SZBG91K
- Publisher : John Joseph Adams/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (April 7, 2020)
- Publication date : April 7, 2020
- Language : English
- File size : 5913 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 438 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #42,375 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Reviews with images
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.)
The thing that main me read The Chosen Ones was the storyline; a group of teenagers saved the world from the Dark One and then we skip forward ten years to see where they are at now. They were victorious and are now idolized by the public as somewhat of a cross between demigods and A-list celebrities. How are they dealing with this? Did they peak too soon? There are references to depression, PTSD, addiction and insomnia. Our narrator is a young woman named Sloane, who, along with her friends, Matt, Ines, Esther, and Albie, were part of a prophesied group who would take on the Dark One. The Dark One is a terrifying figure who creates these events called "Drains," which are basically tornadoes made of magic that literally pull people apart.
Although I finished this book in 2 days, it was a solid struggle and it was a real slow starter. Nothing really happened for ages and then when it did, we are bored with slow magic training sessions that really add no value. The world building was good and I liked the alternative universes with small differences. I agree with one reviewer here about the writing not being great, there is a random comment in the book about a bra that just seemed to not fit at all.
I struggled with Sloane and the third person narration. I had to repeatedly remind myself that Sloane is in her mid-twenties. She spoke and had thoughts like a teenager, I don’t know if this was because this is a YA book or because the characters are less mature than most twenty year olds. Sloane as a character is very good though, she is haunted by the past and is completely selfish about it and her struggle. She feels real, just immature.
I didn’t feel that we got any real questions answered in this book but maybe that is expected when lining up a series.
This book was a ‘meh’ for me and I’m not excited about continuing with the series, so I probably won’t bother. Maybe Veronica Roth just isn't for me.
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.