Review: The Chosen (Contender #1)

Review: The Chosen (Contender #1)

Rating: 3 out of 5.

*I received a copy from the publisher via Netgalley in return for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book.*

Throughout history, people have vanished with little to no explanation. And now Cade and his schoolmates are one of them. Six months into his new school, contemplating his new, drastic path, he is suddenly transported to another realm. A realm where prehistoric animals and ancient societies have seemingly made a home in this strange world. Cade and his friends have no time to relax when a mysterious being announces them as contenders in a game without rules but to survive. 

I’ll admit there was some confusion on my end because the cover and the original synopsis I had read lead me to believe this series was an extension of Matharu’s Summoner series which I mildly enjoyed. Once the talks of modern school and dinosaurs started popping up, I had a feeling we were not in the Hominum Empire anymore. I laugh at my mistake and then started the book over again. My first thoughts when I finished this book was mild confusion. Even with my initial mistake, I felt like I had been reading a different book than what I set out with initially. I wasn’t particularly blown away, it was good fun to read, but nothing was that special for me, personally. 

What made The Chosen unique was its take on using mystery disappearances. Cade soon learns that many people and creatures he sees before have been reported to have disappeared, never to be seen again. A lot of them have ended up here in this strange world. I was having some fun with this book initially. I initially felt some Lord of the Flies vibes. Matharu does an excellent job of setting the scene, bring together a group of boys as they try to figure out what’s happening to them. They discover buildings and materials from people before them and begin their journey to survival. It is from this moment onwards is where I think the story just loses itself. 

Cade is separated from his peers, and this is where the bulk of the story will continue. He meets more people, discovers bolder enemies and figures how most of his plan on his own. The writing is good, consistent and straight to the point. But I just felt like the story just didn’t know where it was going. Or maybe because it’s a trilogy, it felt stretched out far too much to make any real sense. The boys discover they are running on a countdown very early on in the book, and despite the reminder of the clock, it felt really underwhelming. Cade fights new enemies, creatures and humans alike, but it doesn’t go anywhere. Any semblances of an explanation are revealed only in the final chapter, and at the point, I was more confused than thoroughly informed. 

Overall, The Chosen had the potential to be a lot more eventful and exciting if the journey towards the ending wasn’t so underwhelming. Apart from Cade and another character introduced later on, the rest of the cast blur into each other. We are given signifiers and a somewhat decent backstory for them, but when they’re placed within this world, it becomes the Cade Show, where everyone loses relevance. The mystery does unfold quite interestingly, and I just some faith the sequel can do the series justice, but the introduction is not as exhilarating as it should have been.


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Book Review: The City of Brass *Updated*

Book Review: The City of Brass *Updated*

* I initially received an ARC of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in 2018. This is an updated review. 

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Daevabad, a magical city that is split between six djinn tribes, is not the place Nahri expected herself to run to after accidentally summoning a daeva warrior. Suddenly her skill to magically heal and deduce other’s medical issues almost makes sense in these magical lands. Her only companion is the daeva warrior whose past is just as cloudy as her own. But when she meets Prince Ali, the youngest royal in the city of Daevabad, their battle for political power intertwines as they struggle to protect the ones they love. 

When I first read The City of Brass, I wasn’t too hot on it, originally. I had initially read this beast of a book during an awful reading slump which I genuinely believe impacted my opinion because I re-read this book back in March of 2020, and my mind was blown. I can’t believe how different my reading experience was this time. It was like I was reading a completely different book. I don’t think I’ve ever changed a rating so drastically before. (from 3 stars to 5 stars!)

I’m reading my old review of COB, and I want to LAUGH at past Zaheerah. Because everything I said in the original review, I am the complete opposite now. In the initial review, I’m very lukewarm towards our central trio (Nahri, Dara and Ali) but now? I freaking adore them. Nahri’s street smart wit, Dara’s mysterious presence and Ali’s infuriating yet endearing attitude. The familial relationship between Ali, his father and his two older siblings was of greatest interest to me. He is our insider to the Daevabad world and culture, so serious as he finds himself working with the very people his father despises in his fight against his world’s injustice. While Nahri navigates a world unknown, Ali is struggling to face his privilege while also balancing his love for his country and his family. But they both realise not everything is as black and white as they thought. 

The world-building was the best part of the novel. That opinion has not changed since 2018. It’s just so intricate and intensely detailed that it’s a wonder how the author managed to cram so much detail in every page without feeling overpowered as a reader. The cultural detail from the people to their clothes and customs. I imagined it all so well, the sprawling city of Daevabad. (This review was written before the announcement of the Netflix show so yes I am so excited to see the book come to life – Netflix, don’t mess this up.) The character-driven storytelling is so addictive; you genuinely don’t want to let this story go. 

Overall, re-reading The City of Brass was a brilliant decision. The City of Brass is full-on and a great foundational start to an excellent series. Most of this book is readers being introduced to the vast world and its people, and I can see most readers being put off by the sheer size. But Chakraborty is a brilliant action writer, her infusion of hard-hitting fight scenes with enchanting characters makes this a vibrant and thrilling fantasy world. I definitely recommend this story of a young healer, a djinn with a dark past, and a prince who wants to do his city justice.


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