Chosen Paperback – Apr 11 2010
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About the Author
Ted Dekker is the New York Times best-selling author of more than 25 novels. He is known for stories that combine adrenaline-laced plots with incredible confrontations between good and evil. He lives in Texas with his wife and children. Twitter @TedDekker, facebook.com/#!/teddekker --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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These new recruits are sent on one last training mission to prove their worth to Thomas and the Guard. They soon discover there is an even greater mission in store for them, and the survival of Elyon's followers depends on their success. They must seek out and collect the legendary Books of History before they fall into evil hands. Along the way Johnis discovers that not only was he born to lead, but his destiny is greater than he could have ever imagined.
Ted Dekker is one of the most prolific and successful CBA authors to date, and with the beginning of this great new series he only continues to elevate his status. Chosen is an extraordinary tale that builds upon the unforgettable world Dekker created in Black, Red, and White. Adventure, action, and suspense abound, and the world and characters of Elyon are rich and skillfully fashioned. The subtle connections to Dekker's previous works are a clever and fun addition to the enjoyment.
Chosen is being marketed as Young Adult Fiction, but young and old alike will enjoy this latest offering. Dekker fans will love this new story from the Circle universe and new readers will undoubtedly be sucked in to the greatness that is Ted Dekker. This is a superb beginning to what is sure to be a fantastic series.
The story introduces us to Johnis, a young man who is still trying to understand his place in the Forest Guard. He knows his community is threatened by the nearby Horde, but he and the others have lost their deeper understanding of the good and evil forces that encircle them. They've become lackadaisical in the thirteen years since the Circle Trilogy ended, and they follow their leader Thomas based mostly upon the old stories.
Soon, Johnis and three partners are thrust into a battle for their very lives, racing to fulfill an assignment from Thomas, while also fighting off the bat-winged Shataiki. Johnis is given his own specific quest, and he is forced to either rise above his own limitations or fall prey to his youth and inexperience.
I discovered Ted's writing at the beginning of his relatively short, but prolific, career. I still think "When Heaven Weeps" is one of the best Christian novels out there, and "Thr3e" broke barriers in the market. When he wrote the Circle Trilogy, we had only hints at the larger mythos he was creating, one which ties together his last ten books or so. While I loved the allegory and depth of "Showdown," I found "Saint" and "Skin" to be more movie-script oriented--not bad, just different.
"Chosen" is a return to the deeper exploration that I've come to expect from Ted's stories. Despite being immensely readable and aimed at the YA audience, this is a story older readers can also enjoy for its fantasy elements and for the spiritual ideas that ring throughout. I'm anxious now to read "Infidel." And if these are any indication, "Adam," his next full-length novel should rank among his best.
The story centers around Johnis, a just-barely sixteen year old who wants to be part of the Forest Guard, the fighters that protect the forests from the desert-dwelling Horde army, but can't because he's been elimanted from qualifying. Through quite the sequence of events (albeit a football game of sorts), Johnis ends up in the Forest Guard, and is immediately thrown into a crazy adventure that will take him into the heart of darkness itself. Creepy monsters, visions, and the search for seven mysterious books makes this one of Dekker's most fantastical stories yet.
The writing here is good. Very good. And things move along very quickly. The only interesting thing to note is that while this has been marketed for youth, readers who have not read the Circle Trilogy (marketed for adults) will most likely be a little confused on some story points. (Maybe that's why Dekker put out those graphic novels of the trilogy in the fall...?) There are even some very interesting tie-ins to the rest of the Dekker universe which will be very intriguing for long-time fans, but will likely not shed much light on things.
All in all, this is very likely to please the young fantasy crowd it's been aimed at. And while at times some readers may too obviously see the message Dekker is dishing out here, it will still entertain and inspire. Definitely worth your day to read.
Chosen is no different. Ted Dekker returns to the series that made him great in the first place in his new series, the Lost Books. He returns Thomas Hunter of the Forest Guard as a secondary character who serves as a mentor of sorts to the four main characters, Johnis, Silvie, Darsal, and Billos. The Forest Guard are struggling to fight off the powerful Horde army which seeks to destroy the seven green forests of Elyon that are home to the forest dwellers. In response to this great threat Thomas Hunter lowers the age of his fighters from 18 to 16. When our four heroes are sent into the desert to prove their worth by completing a task Thomas gives them, they are approached by the Roush who inform them that they are destined to search out and find the seven lost Books of History.
No book Ted Dekker has written has conflicted me more then this one. At certain parts I wanted to throw the book at the wall in frustration as I could not stand the horrendous dialog and cheesy "character development" that plagued the entire middle part of the book. Other parts glued me to my seat as the action picked up and Dekker showed off his ability as a suspense and action writer. The book, like almost all Dekker books, ended magnificently, but like Saint and Skin, the middle was horrible.
The minuses for this book are easy to see for anyone with an eye for literature. First off, and I can not stress this enough, the dialog was simply horrible. There were many parts where I almost put it down for good because the way the characters spoke to each other was nothing like how real teenagers would talk. Shut your yapper scrapper? I can understand the need to keep the book "clean" (even if I think it takes away from the overall realism of the story) but this is ridiculous. Here is a conversation from the book to let you know just what I mean when I say the dialog is bad;
pg 109-111, bottom paragraph; (don't worry; I'll try to keep out spoilers).
Johnis; "you will follow me Darsal. You will follow me to hell itself if that's where I lead you" (note here that Johnis isn't the leader of the group yet, Darsal is).
Silvie; "she may have a point, Johnis. You know we could still cut back and make it to the forest in the darkness."
Johnis; "But we won't. We can't. Our destiny is out here in the desert of death where the Horde lies in wait, desperate to feed on our flesh."
What teenager talks like this? Have you ever in your life met a sixteen year old who would, or could in that matter, speak this way? Another obvious flaw for anyone willing enough to see it are the horrible cliché's and stereotypes Dekker shamelessly uses to move his story forward. The prophecy foretelling of a "chosen One" whose going to save the world has been done so many times that it should be illegal for anyone to use it ever again. For anyone to use this tired plot device again shows a lack of originality and effort on the part of the writer. What happened to the originality we saw in his earlier books? On another note, each and every one of these characters falls into a terrible stereotype.
Johnis; The smart weak guy that must overcome his physical weakness to save the world and get the girl.
Billos; The stupid tough guy.
Silvie; The strong girl with a soft spot.
Darsal; The insecure teenager.
I've seen every single one of these characters before, by different names and from different stories but their basic personality's remain the same. They do the same things, they act the same way, and they always find a way to beat the bad guys in the end. Hurray.
So why doesn't this book get a one or two star rating? Well, when Dekker is in his element I have to say he can still be great. The book starts out pretty well, but then slowly fades into mediocre during the middle part of the story, followed by a killer ending (read my review for Skin and you'll see I said almost the exact same thing). It took him about 200 pages to get back in his element, but once he got in his rhythm there was no going back. His tie ins with Showdown near the end of the book were incredible and kept me glued to my seat into the small hours of early morning. Dekker is a great action and suspense writer, and proves in the ending of this book he still has what it takes to create great fiction; too bad he doesn't stay in his element though.
The single greatest piece of advice Thomas Hunter gave to the characters in this book was to "think with your heart." Now, the single best piece of advice this humble fan can give to my favorite writer is to write from the heart. The Circle, Thr3e, and Showdown were all great books because Dekker didn't just go by the numbers and try to write best selling fiction, he wrote what God put into his heart and came out with some great stories. Other then that, I honestly think he should give the Circle a break. Ever since he wrote the original series almost every book since has been a tie in of one kind or another. Showdown was a great tie in, but then it just got weird as he forced the Horde into Skin and Saint. Chosen has the potential to explain a lot of unanswered questions from the Trilogy, like how Thomas was able to move between our two worlds and what he was doing in the Black Forest, but Dekker doesn't take advantage of this fact. Let's hope that in future entries in this series Dekker will take this opportunity to expand the story. Well, I hope my rambling was helpful to you.
Re-read value; low.
Don't get me wrong; for young adult fiction it's a good read. It's just not cut from the same block as the other relevant works.
Some have said that this is not a spin-off of the original Circle Trilogy. They don't know what they're saying. This series is solidly based in the original trilogy and can not be fully understood apart from it.
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