We love a bit of YA dystopian fiction here at SciFiNow – strong female lead, a seemingly all-powerful bad guy, a big battle, perhaps a love interest… now, imagine if an author of one of the most successful YA dystopian fiction series in recent years wrote a novel about what happens after these kids save the world. Well, imagine no further as Veronica Roth (author of the Divergent series) has done just that.
Chosen Ones is set ten years after the big battle with the all-powerful bad guy, the Dark One (it’s okay, the very first chapter hilariously discusses how terrible that name is). Our strong female lead, Sloane Andrews, is now pushing 30 and her and her love interest (and leader of our group of heroes), Matthew Weekes, are living in domestic bliss. Well… not quite… you see, life isn’t like that.
Sloane and her group of fellow ‘chosen ones’ including Golden Boy Matthew, flamboyant Esther, shy Albert and serious Ines were told when they were just 15 that they were destined to defeat the Dark One and were subsequently ripped from their homes and forced to live in a secret facility with the army and US government officials. It then took five years for the group to defeat the Dark One, during which time family members died, they committed atrocities including mass murder and, as in Sloane and Albert’s case, were victims of both kidnap and torture.
Now, these are all elements we’ve seen in YA sci-fi and fantasy fiction but have we ever sat down and thought what affect that would have on teenagers? Roth has and she (probably quite rightly) thinks that would screw a person up. Now, 15 years after the team were plucked from obscurity, they’re living in the limelight and suffering the after-effects of severe trauma. Albert is now a drug addict, Ines still sets traps in her house in case someone attacks, Esther channels her insecurities into her social media presence and plastering on a thick mask of makeup and Matthew has clearly blocked the real trauma of what happened to them – refusing to believe anything is wrong with them.
Sloane, meanwhile, was the Dark One’s favourite and she’s still haunted by her kidnapping experience – she suffers night terrors and has a reliance on prescription medication to get through the day. The world may be celebrating ten years without the Dark One, but our heroes still live with what he did to them every day. So when the chosen ones find themselves in a similar big battle, they’re (quite understandably) not sure if they will win this time around…
Chosen Ones is an absolute delight to read. Roth intersperses hefty themes like PTSD and drug addiction (this is less YA fiction and more AA fiction) with witty, engaging dialogue and a group of characters who are all at once completely identifiable and surprising. The novel is also very clever – touching upon the tropes of fantasy YA fiction while creating an almost completely new genre in itself – post-YA fantasy fiction perhaps?
Whether you’re a fan of YA fantasy or not, this is a must-read.
Chosen Ones by Veronica Roth is out now from Hodder & Stoughton.