Contender #1

The Chosen by Taran Matharu

Publication Date: June 4, 2019

Summary from NetGalley:

The ChosenThroughout history, people have vanished with no explanation. A group of teenagers are about to discover why.

Cade is settling into a new boarding school, contemplating his future, when he finds himself transported to another realm. He soon discovers their new world is populated with lost remnants from the past: prehistoric creatures, ancient relics, and stranger still—people. Overwhelmed by his new surroundings, Cade has little time to adjust, for soon he and his fellow classmates are forced to become contenders in a brutal game, controlled by mysterious overlords.

But who are these beings and why did they choose these teens? Cade must prepare for battle . . . because hiding is not an option.

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Arc provided by Macmillan Children’s via NetGalley for an honest review.

Confession:

Let’s start by talking about that cover.  I love it, but it sort of gives the wrong impression of what this story is all about.  It makes you think Ninja’s and warriors and even though there is a lot of action and battles, and Cabe does get a Ninja sword, which has little to do with the main story.  But still that cover will catch a lot of eyes and will make people pick the book up.  

The premise of the story is pretty good.  Cabe wakes up and finds himself in an unknown world fighting for his life.  What the truth is about what is going on is never fully revealed and that adds to the story’s tension.  The reader is left just as clueless as poor Cade and his friends.  Bits and pieces do slowly come out and there is a big reveal at the end, but otherwise you find yourself wondering along with Cabe.  That structure does make it hard to put the book down, because you keep thinking all will be revealed.  

The plot starts a little slow, due mostly to the first few chapters flipping back and forth from the present to the past.  It is all told from Cabe’s point of view.  I really liked Cabe.  He is smart and logical and has good leadership potential.  He finds himself in an impossible situation, but he uses his brain to get himself and others through some pretty tough situations.  

There is a very large cast of secondary characters, and at times it was hard to keep them straight.  I liked the girls though.  They were pretty tough and I liked that they often showed the boys up in their strength and abilities.  I also liked Quintus, a young boy from Ancient Roman, that Cade meets.  Quintus has been living in this world for awhile and is also deaf.  He becomes very important to Cade and to the other teens survival.  You don’t get to know many of the other characters well and there isn’t a lot to their character development, but that is ok.  

The world building was fascinating.  The fact that there were dinosaurs from all different time periods mixed up with cities and other things from history was an interesting twist to this type of story.  There are some nice interesting historical tidbits thrown in through out as Cade encounters all of these different things.  There is also some pretty advanced technology in this world.  There are force fields and a high tech computer that follows Cade around called Codex.  Codex can be helpful at times when asked the right questions, but it does not ever give away what is really going on.  Mostly Codex is a source of tension because of the countdown timer that it continuously flashes.  

I really enjoyed this book.  The fast pace, action and an interesting world will attract a lot of fans.  I am looking forward to the next installment, and hopefully more information about what is really going on.  

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