What Happens After You Fulfil Your Destiny?: Chosen Ones by Veronica Roth

As much as I hate to say it, Chosen Ones is another one of those books with a great concept but not so great execution. I mean, taking the chosen one trope and grounding it in reality by looking at the aftermath and trauma that comes with it? Such a good idea! If only this fantastic potential had been better taken advantage of.

Who, What, Where?

Fifteen years ago, five teens – Sloan, Matt, Inez, Albie and Esther – were singled out by the government as potential chosen ones, prophesied to defeat a powerful entity known as The Dark One. Following his defeat, the world seemingly returned to normal. Now adults, the group is trying to adjust to living as regular people again. But how can they when they’re the most famous people around? More so, after everything that’s happened to them? Sloane, in particular, has had a hard time moving on – nightmares, PTSD, and secrets about her kidnapping by the Dark One that she hasn’t told anyone. Around the tenth anniversary of their triumph, one of the five shockingly dies and the remaining chosen ones are sent hurtling into another prospective battle with a new Dark One.

Too Long to Reach the Good Stuff

If I had to use one descriptor for this book, it would unfortunately have to be ‘a slog’. The last third or quarter of Chosen Ones is actually pretty enjoyable. Plotlines come together, secrets are revealed, there’s action, our villain develops a backstory…but gosh, does it feel like a trial to get there.

The pacing for most of this book leaves a lot to be desired. My interest would register in short bursts only to disappear again for large stretches of time. The earlier chapters deal with establishing the chosen five (plus their baggage) and the world ten years after the defeat of The Dark One. This was fine at first but after a while I found myself wondering where it was all going. Once part two hit, a major and unexpected shift in the narrative occurred which led me to believe things would start to pick up. Instead, I got some wandering around the city, character squabbling, and boring magic instruction (something I’m normally crazy about). Finally, at long last, some new characters were introduced and I began to get a better sense of the overarching conflict, allowing me to feel more engaged in the story. However, by this point, I couldn’t help but feel as though it was a case of too little, too late.

Not My Chosen Ones

When it comes to slower reads, I’m 100% fine provided I have characters I can connect with and get invested in. This wasn’t really the case here. I enjoy the occasional abrasive, emotionally complicated and typically ‘unlikeable’ character, but for some reason I just didn’t click with Sloane. I’m not sure whether it was the distance created by the third person narration but I never really felt as though the book got as emotionally deep with her trauma as it should have. Regrettably, I felt the same way about the rest of the chosen ones and for a book that I believed was going to focus on exactly this theme, it’s hard not to be disappointed.

In the end, my attitude towards most of the characters in this book can only be explained as indifferent. While I thought Albie was sweet, Ines disappeared for most of the book, Matt was annoying and boring, and Esther was…eh. Both Mox and Ziva were likeable with solid potential but because of their point of introduction in the story, there wasn’t enough time to properly develop them into anything substantial.

Documents and Files

One of the things I quite liked about the book was its use of files, reports, newspaper clippings, etc. to break up the third person narrative. There may have been one or two inclusions that I found a little pointless (poems?), but overall, these were a nice way to provide context to some past events in a different way than the standard flashback. Each excerpt isn’t always relevant at the exact moment it arises, but they do provide useful world building and background information for events further on down the track.

All Grown Up?

Chosen Ones is Veronica Roth’s first adult classified book. Despite it being targeted at an older audience, there’s a definite young adult vibe here. A couple of the themes seem slightly more mature, but the characters and writing often still have that YA feel. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing and I can understand why such an approach would fit this particular story. Here, we have several adults who lost a significant part of their teenage years training to fight a mass murderer magician in a fight they weren’t even sure they would survive. Consequently, they didn’t go through the usual milestones, learning experiences and development of normal teens and this has impacted on how they interact and behave as adults. Sure, it can be a bit frustrating to read about adults acting like bickering teenagers, but it’s believable in the context of the narrative.


The later parts of Chosen Ones give me hope for a more enjoyable sequel, yet I don’t really see myself picking up the second entry in this duology. I’m sure that the big bang ending to the book will pull a lot of readers in on curiosity to see how events play out, but I don’t think I can trudge through another 400 or so pages if I’m wrong.    

2.5 Stars

Most Anticipated 2020 Releases

Once upon a time, 2020 seemed extremely far away and now, here we are. As always, there are several books coming out at different points this year that I’m eagerly keeping my eyes open for. Whether I’ll actually read them in 2020 is another story but #bookwormlife, am I right?

Loveboat, Taipei – Abigail Hing Wen | Jan 7

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An own-voices, contemporary YA romance set in Taiwan featuring a Taiwanese-American from an immigrant family. All the yes. This book looks really cute and like it’ll be a lot of fun. It’s basically a bunch of teens going a little wild at a summer program (which explains the Crazy, Rich Asians comparisons) but still deals with a bunch of more serious things like accepting yourself, honouring cultural traditions, learning from one’s mistakes, and personal sacrifice. Also, can we take a minute and talk about how gorgeous that cover is? Cue love heart eyes.


The Hand on the Wall (Truly Devious 3#) – Maureen Johnson | Jan 21

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The Hand on the Wall is the final book in the YA mystery series Truly Devious. These books aren’t perfect but they’re a lot of fun. After a cliffhanger ending to book two, The Vanishing Stair, I’ve been looking forward to book three finally giving us some much needed answers. With multiple mysteries still in need of a solution, it’ll be good to see teenage sleuth, Stevie Bell, back in action. However, considering the blurb tells us there’ll be another accident (Ellingham academy can’t catch a break, can it?) and a school wide evacuation due to a storm, I’m guessing the drama is far from over.


Ashlords – Scott Reintgen | Jan 21

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Now, this just sounds super cool. An epic, challenge-filled race using magical, phoenix horses in which injuring and sabotaging other contestants is encouraged. The story focuses on 3 of the contestants – the daughter of two former champions, a revolutionary’s son, and this world’s version of a popular YouTuber. It’s being pitched as The Scorpio Races meets Red Rising. While I haven’t read the former, I love the latter and if it’s anything as dramatic and high stakes as that, I’ll have a great time. This book is the first in a duology, which are all the craze these days.


House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City 1#) – Sarah J. Maas | March 3

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Come on, as if this was a surprise. I’ve had this book on my upcoming releases shelf since the news of its existence broke. While I’m not a huge Throne of Glass fan, I do love Sarah J Maas’s ACOTAR series so I am super keen to see how her foray into the adult fantasy world turns out. Fae, demons, angels, a seedy city underbelly, a bit of mystery, some romance – I’m just like: let’s go already. It’s looking to be a somewhat chunky read but how could I possibly resist that absolutely gorgeous yet bizarre cover?


All Your Twisted Secrets – Diana Urban | March 17

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While I’m not a huge fan of the cover on this one, the blurb certainly has my interest piqued. AYTS is a YA mystery/thriller type read with One of Us is Lying and Agatha Christie like vibes. A bunch of high school stereotypes are mysteriously invited to a scholarship dinner only to find themselves locked in. In the room with them is a bomb, poison filled syringe and instructions to select one among their party to die within the hour or all of them will die. While I liked One of Us is Lying, it did have its let downs so I’m hoping this book will tick all the right boxes. Give me secrets, drama, tense situations and most of all, an ending that I’m not able to pick from a mile off.


Chosen Ones – Veronica Roth | April 7

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My experience with Veronica Roth so far has been limited to the Divergent series which started off great and ended in somewhat train wreck fashion with me DNF-ing Allegiant. Not exactly a glowing endorsement to read more of her books, but after seeing the blurb for Chosen Ones I’m super intrigued. From what I can tell, the book will take some common tropes like the chosen one, five-man band and big bad evil, and try to do something a bit different with it. In this case, look at what happens to the heroes after the evil has been defeated. Unlike her other work, this is an adult book and it’ll be interesting to see how her writing has matured.


The Betrothed – Kiera Cass | May 5

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Guys, I’ll be honest, the synopsis isn’t giving me the highest levels of excitement. It’s tropes galore and the plot revolves around a love triangle. HOWEVER, Cass’s The Selection books were the ultimate trashy, guilty-pleasure series so I’m going in with an open mind and hoping this is much the same. Sometimes a girl needs something light to read, ya know? The general gist is that a noble lady has been working her butt off for years to win the affections of the king. Finally he declares his love for her but then she meets a mysterious commoner and begins to question what will make her happy.


The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes – Suzanne Collins | May 19

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This book could either be fantastic or a complete disaster. I’m not entirely sure which yet (hopefully the odds are in our favour?) Honestly, it seems like a prequel book was completely unnecessary here, but am I going to read it anyway because I really like The Hunger Games? You bet I am. So far we don’t have all that much information about the story itself other than the fact that it’s set 64 years before the original series and deals with the 10th Hunger Games. A few people have been throwing Mags’s name around . I guess only time will tell.


Unravel the Dusk (The Blood of Stars 2#) – Elizabeth Lim | July 7

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After putting it off for a while, I read Spin the Dawn during the second half of 2019. Despite having some issues with it (the way it was pitched was slightly deceptive), I still enjoyed myself enough to want to read the sequel. The lead character, Maia, was left in a bit of a sticky position at the end of book one so I’m looking forward to seeing how she gets out of it/fixes things. Based on the synopsis, we’re also moving into a full scale war in the sequel which always sends the stakes right up and I’m totally here for it. Maia, grab your needle and let’s go kick some butt.


The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue – Victoria Schwab | Oct 6

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I adore Victoria Schwab’s books so when she mentioned at a signing that she’d been working on a novel about a girl who sells her soul to the devil for immortality but in exchange is to be forgotten by everyone she meets, I was immediately sold. It also happens to be a love story. Honestly, her brain is actual magic. Knowing that she’s been working on this book for over 8 years is insane and I really hope it’s absolutely wonderful because I want all her hard work and anxiety to pay off so badly.


What are some your most anticipated releases for 2020? I’m betting Chain of Gold will be high on a lot of other people’s lists.