They say dystopian is dead. Maybe it is…in the general market of books, but in the CBA, it’s on the rise, which is why Rachelle Dekker’s new book, The Choosing, is getting a lot of hype. Naturally, being an author of dystopian fiction, I gobbled it up.
Main Pros in The Choosing
- No “giant decision day.” Divergent, Matched, The Giver, even The Hunger Games have “the big day.” While that special day does exist in The Choosing, the story starts after that moment, which allows us to jump right in to the character’s new terrifying journey. I appreciated this, although the drama-queen girlishness in me does wish I could have experienced the “big dance” with Carrington.
- The overall message. The underlying themes of this book are to remind us who we are in Christ. (Tweet this!) To show us that we don’t need the labels slapped on us by society and that we’re perfect without fitting into the requirements of today’s culture. Not only did the theme feel fresh throughout the writing, but it was delivered with a powerful punch and very little preaching.
- A protagonist with a stutter. I liked this new touch (*ahem* speech therapist background, remember?) For once, the person with a stutter or limp or other disability wasn’t the comic relief, the heart-tugger, or the little adorable child. It was the love interest, which accentuated the overall message of being renewed and perfect in Christ, no matter how the rest of the world sees you.
- The “Jesus figure.” You know how it goes. The character meets someone who’s representative of Jesus and He’s a bit cliche, or over-pious sounding. Not so in this book! The man who was the “mysterious teacher outside the city limits” stuck with me from the first moment I met him. Every time he showed up later had me excited and joyous. He was fun, wise, and an all-around non-cliched likeable character.
Main Cons in The Choosing
- Flashbacks and info dumps. I really do sit the editor-brain in the corner when I go to read for pleasure, but as both a reader and an editor, a character’s flashbacks and information dumps lose my interest. These were fairly heavy at the start of the novel, but the story picked up enough later on to keep my interest.
- Clichés. The plot felt a bit like your average thriller with a dystopian cloak on. Change the bad guy to a modern day serial killer and the love interest into an FBI agent and it’s the same story. I don’t mean to be harsh — there’s a reason that storyline is popular, but because I’ve read it a lot in other books, it felt a little cliché to me. However, Carrington’s strong inner journey (see the second pro above) made up for the common plot line.
- Harsh mother figure. Now, I can’t hold this too much against the author — if you’ve read A Time to Die you know that Parvin’s mother isn’t a softie either. But it seemed that every character had a harsh, compassionless, or self-absorbed mother. Setting that aside, however, the transformation of Carrington’s mother during Carrington’s journey definitely felt more natural by the end of the story.
- The world and characters didn’t feel fully alive until the end. This could just be me. I had a hard time feeling absorbed in the world or connected to the characters. One main reason I read dystopian is because I love the discovery of a new world. This one just felt…flat at times. Same with the progression of the romance — it started with fluttery stomachs, but very little quality interaction. I understand that their culture is different than ours, but I still couldn’t fully buy into it or the characters’ heads. I came close with Carrington (main character), but I would have liked some deeper point-of-view. Just personal preference.
You can read my full review on Goodreads.
Overall, I definitely recommend the book. It has a touch of Ted Dekker’s creepy thriller badguy-ness, Rachelle’s own flair on a meaningful message-filled dystopian, and it’s a quick read!
Have you read The Choosing or do you plan to? (Tweet this)
What Christian dystopian book would you recommend?