Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Chosen One - Carol Lynch Williams

Title: The Chosen One
Author: Carol Lynch Williams
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
ISBN: 0-312-55511-3
Release Date: 2009
Page Number: 213
Price: $16.95/$18.95 Can.

"If I was going to kill the prophet, I'd do it in Africa." So says thirteen year old Kyra in the opening of The Chosen One, a novel by Carol Lynch Williams. Kyra is a member of The Chosen Ones, an isolated community of polygamists. As a Chosen One, she lives behind fences, hidden from the outside world and ruled by Prophet Childs and his enforcers, known as the God Squad. Kyra's life as a Chosen One is a life of orders, duty, and restriction. As a girl in a polygamist society, she is to help with all chores, take care of the many younger children, obey the men without question, and when the time comes, to marry the man the Prophet annouces that God has chosen for her, and bear him as many children as she is able to.

But Kyra has two secrets. The first comes in the form of a book mobile, which she visits weekly to borrow a book from, despite the Prophet's claim that books from the outside contain only "Satan's word", and despite the danger she would face if she were caught. Kyra's second secret, like most young girls, comes in the form of a boy. His name is Joshua, and Kyra thinks, if she could, she'd choose him to be her husband. But in The Chosen Ones, women don't choose. They are chosen. And if there's one thing Kyra is realizing, it's that she can't remember a recent time when a young man and a young girl were married. If there's one thing Kyra is realizing, it's that the young girls are all going to the old men.

Nonetheless, when the Prophet comes to tell her that she has been chosen by God to become the seventh wife of not only an older man, but her own uncle, Kyra is shocked and horrified. And despite the fact that she is a Chosen One, and has been raised to obey, Kyra finds herself questioning the authority of the Prophet, and the society she's lived in her entire life.

I first picked up The Chosen One in my school library a few weeks ago, but being as the end of the year was fast approaching, I was denied my request to take out any more books. Figuring I'd have to wait until September to get anywhere near the book, I was pleasantly surprised to find a copy of the novel in the return box of my public library, and I couldn't wait to start it. Although most books tend to get my attention by book cover alone, The Chosen One caught my attention solely based on the unique setting and premise. Taboo subjects are something I enjoy, you'll come to find, and The Chosen One certainly promised to deliver.

I found that the novel did deliver on the promises made, and I enjoyed the reading. The author doesn't romanticize the subjects, but delivers each one with the gritty details. I found the writing to be delightfully expressive; Kyra's disgust and helplessness was vivid in my mind as I followed the story, and I can truthfully say that toward the end of the novel, I neglected much of my classwork in order to finish the story and find out Kyra's fate.

I usually hate when I read things like "heart pounding" but I like to think that The Chosen One deserves the term, after a point. The novel actually starts out rather slow, and there is a good sized chunk of pages where the plot itself seems to crawl, with the same themes being expressed repetitively. There is a very obvious turning point as you're reading, where the story goes from interesting almost solely because of the interesting details and society and livestyle being expressed, to being interesting because of the plot itself, and the main character's plight. After this point, the pace of the novel increases frantically, with sudden major points occurring one after another and increasing the sense of urgency. I found the pace very interesting, and felt that it matched the events in the story very well.

As far as characterization goes, I found that for the most part, the author did well. Kyra's plight was horrifyingly believable in my eyes, and she was very emotionally expressive. When reading, one can almost feel the urgency, the fear, and the helplessness she faced, and in several parts, I couldn't help but urge her on. I found myself getting very involved in the novel, following Kyra's story with active hopes that things would turn out well for her. Likewise, many of the support characters were portrayed rather well, particularly considering the short length of the novel. Even some of the antagonists of the novel were nicely detailed, and not just purely cardboard evil villains. Those who committed acts that might be portrayed as cruel did so because they truly believed, because they thought it was God's command and their duty to follow it. The only issue I found with Williams' characters was in Prophet Childs himself, who I felt was very two dimensional. To be completely frank, there were no redeeming features in the novel at all, as far as he went, and he came off as a purely self-serving individual. My personal preference is for villains who can by sympathized with in some way, or at the very least, villains that make you think about the story instead of rooting purely for the main character. But being as this is a personal preference, Prophet's characterization was only a very small blemish on an otherwise decent novel.

As far as personal opinions go, I enjoyed the book quite a bit. As said, the premise was particularly interesting, and I enjoyed reading about something that one doesn't see as often, instead of the increasingly common "vampire romance", "regular teenage drama", or "high school with a twist" themes that have invaded the young adult bookshelves. I found the change to something different very refreshing. The fact that the novel parallels so many real life events only increases the allure, in my eyes. I would happily recommend the book to anyone interested in trying something a little new, although I will say that The Chosen One is more of a 'once and then you're done' sort of novel. The nature of the story is somewhat dependent on the new ideas and information, and there isn't much of a draw to reread the novel after you've finished it once, although I may find my opinion on the matter changed after a few months have gone by, and I've forgotten some of the details. As it stands, however, there doesn't seem to be very much reread value.

The Chosen One was a very unique, interesting read, and I can honestly say that I did enjoy the novel. There were a few flaws, admittedly, but I think they were slight enough to be forgiven. The story itself was enjoyable, one of those novels that are hard to put down at some points, because the tension rises so high. I'd recommend it to anyone whose looking for a bit of light reading, who might like a story involving a decently strong female lead, a story based on a theme that isn't particularly mainstream, or anyone who might want a story based on events that happen in real life, but that aren't commonplace.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

So how 'bout that airline food?

They say the first step is the hardest. After staring at this page for about half an hour trying to figure out how to start this off, I want to throw my lot in with theirs. They seem to have a lot of good points. If anyone ever finds out how to get in contact with this mysterious 'they', drop me a link on how to sign up, eh?
The name's Abigail. Generally speaking, however, I go by Slytherclaw. Or, more commonly, Sly. I'm 16, although I'll be 17 in 12 days, 1 hour, 40 minutes, and 27 seconds. But hey, whose counting?
I'm your average teenage...hell if I know. Geek, nerd, dork, dweeb, pick a label. I'm sure you can think of one that applies. And I could sit here and write out a nice list of random facts about me that you don't particularly care to know (did you know I can tie a cherry stem in a knot with my tongue?), or I can direct you to the 'about me' section that already has more information than anyone besides Mind gives a hoot about, and give you the basics. Here's what you need to know about me: I'm female, I read more than any person should have the right to, I'm addicted to fantasy and the supernatural, I've found the guy that damn well might be the love of my life, and will probably mention him more than once throughout the next however long this blog keeps up, and I'm here to give you my opinion on whichever random books end up sitting in front of me during that time during the day that I'm supposed to be doing that homework and studying thing. Oh. And incidentally, I can't do the cherry stem thing. I'm working on it. When I figure it out, you'll know.
There are probably thousands of book review blogs on the internet. I don't know an exact count, since I don't follow them all. Well. To be perfectly honest, I've never followed one. Probably will eventually, but not yet. No idea how a formal blog is supposed to run. Don't particularly give a damn, truth be told. Fact is, you're reading my blog right now (or you're not. I hope you are. Talking to yourself isn't half as fun as the books make it seem), and I'm hoping that means you're willing to give it a chance. All I can say, as far as why you should bother, is that I'm going to be keeping everything informal and simple. If reading things like "This book was a flawless gem in the wastelands of an overused cliche" is what you're here for, I suggest you find your fix elsewhere. I can promise decent spelling, grammar, and literacy. I can promise that I'll review random books at will. I won't promise that there will be any connection between the books I review, outside of the fact that they're...I can't even say ink on paper, since I have read e-books before. I can promise that I won't throw fancy language and symbolism and such nonsense into my reviews, and that I'll tell you exactly what I thought of a specific book, regardless of any outside influences.
So if you want to find out what a real person thought of whichever book is the flavor of the week, without fake advertising and puffery, feel free to stop by whenever you're interested. I always welcome readers, comments, the like. Feel free to leave a comment or email me at and agree or disagree, debate a point with me, recommend a new book for me, whatever you like I..well, I do bite, incidentally, but until someone invents a way to hurt people through a computer (and becomes the richest person in the world), you're safe from me.
Happy Reading,