Cover of Chosen Ones by Veronica Roth. The title on a starry background with a line running in and out of the Os

About the Book

Title: Chosen Ones
Published: 2020

Cover Story: The new novel from New York Times best-selling author Veronica Roth
Drinking Buddy: Your Money’s No Good Here
MPAA Rating: R (Graphic violence, Sexuality, Adult Situations, Drug and Alcohol Use)
Talky Talk: Non-sequel
Bonus Factors: Alternate Universe, Shadowy Villain
Bromance Status: See You in the Papers

Cover Story: The new novel from New York Times best-selling author Veronica Roth

Yep, that was literally the title when I downloaded this on my Kindle. Roth has reached the point where her name is as big as the title and we get nothing else. Anyway, this is her first purely adult novel.

The Deal:

Fifteen years ago, an entity known as the Dark One nearly destroyed the earth. Fortunately, five plucky teenagers–as foretold in the Prophecy–were able to defeat him. We don’t get to see any of that. Instead, we jump forward to the life of Sloane, a young woman having a hard time adjusting to a post-heroic life. Her fellow-hero Matt has just proposed, but Sloane doesn’t exactly want to settle down and pop out little heroes, what with her PTSD and all. But one day, she, Matt, and other Fab Five member Esther get sucked into an alternate Chicago where everyone uses magic and the Dark One has returned. Or is it really the Dark One?

Drinking Buddy: Your Money’s No Good Here

Two pints of beer cheersing

So the Chosen Ones are dealing with their savior of the universe roles in various ways. Matt likes playing black Captain America, the smiling face of all that’s good and decent. Esther is a social media influencer. Inez just wants to live quietly with her family. Albie has turned to drugs. And Sloane…she never asked to be a hero in the first place. She resents Matt’s public marriage proposal. How could she tell him she’s having reservations about their relationship in front of the cameras? Why does everyone think she needs to be in this huge, public role? And then people from an alternate timeline suck her into Chicago Mark II, forcing her to fight the Dark One again. But not the same Dark One…

MPAA Rating: R (Graphic violence, Sexuality, Adult Situations, Drug and Alcohol Use)

Esoteric, powerful artifacts? Check. Shadowy government agencies? Check. A villain that may not be as evil as advertised? Check. Entire cities blasted off the map? Check. The Trump Tower reduced to rubble? Double check!

A great amount of action here, though often only shown in flashbacks and newspaper clippings.

Talky Talk: Non-sequel

So I kept having to go back and check that I was not reading the second book in a series. Everyone kept referring to the first battles with the Dark One with such familiarity that I felt like I was supposed to already know all this. This is not a sequel, but this novel was like watching the second It movie with no backstory.

It was a good adventure, but not a great one. I’m pretty sure a true sequel is coming, but I’m not holding my breath, even if this turns out to be a NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER.

Bonus Factor: Alternate Reality

President Truman holding a newspaper incorrectly declaring Dewey as the winner of the 1948 election

Sloane’s world is just like ours, except for the horrific evil man who swung onto the scene fifteen years ago (not John Edwards). The alternate Chicago features magic as an everyday thing, with mechanical devices used as both magical focusing doodads and fashion accessories. New businesses, celebrities, and history. Sloane has a hard enough time finding her place here, especially with government agents demanding she immediately go into battle. But hey, in this world, there are no Chicago Cubs, so it all balances out.

Bonus Factor: Shadowy Villain

Photo of Darth Vader from Star Wars

The Dark One in Sloane’s world is pretty much Darth Vader crossed with Dr. Evil. The alternate Dark One, however, is an unassuming, handsome man. The kind of guy you’d meet on the street. Except for his army of the undead, of course. But let’s not get all judgy.

Bromance Status: See You in the Papers

Hopefully on the best-seller list. But I’m not buying a book just based on the author’s sales.

Literary Matchmaking


In Paul Blackwell’s Undercurrent, a boy is sucked into an alternate universe.

The Chosen (Contender #1)

Ragtag team vs. unspeakable evil: The Chosen, Taren Matharu

Peregrine Harker & the Black Death

Like over-the-top bad guys? Try Peregrine Harper & The Black Death, by Luke Hollands.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received neither money nor a spot on the NEW YORK TIMES bestseller list for writing this review. Did I mention this author was a bestseller?

Brian wrote his first YA novel when he was down and out in Mexico. He now lives in Missouri with his wonderful wife and daughter. He divides his time between writing and working as a school librarian. Brian still misses the preachy YA books of the eighties.