Jun 1, 2015

The Choosing, by Rachelle Dekker

Disclaimer: All reviews are the result of my personal opinion from a Christian stand-point. These reviews are provided for those who share my beliefs and morals, to help guide what fiction a reader may wish to pick up. For those who do not share these beliefs, please refrain from hateful comments. It is due to rude commenting that I must now include this note prior to all reviews. For more information, visit my purpose behind this blog. Thank you for your understanding.

Intended Age-Group: 14+
Issues of Violence: serial killer violence
Intimacy Level: Brief kissing
Language: none
Recommendation: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Back Cover Blurb:
Like all citizens since the Ruining, Carrington Hale knows the importance of this day. But she never expected the moment she'd spent a lifetime preparing for -- her Choosing ceremony -- to end in disaster. Ripped from her family, she'll spend her days serving as a Lint, the lowest level of society. She knows it's her duty to follow the true way of the Authority.
But as Carrington begins this nightmare, rumors of rebellion rattle her beliefs. Though the whispers contradict everything she's been told, they resonate deep within. 
Then Carrington is offered an unprecedented chance at the life she's always dreamed of, yet she can't shake the feeling that it may be an illusion. With a killer targeting Lints and corruption threatening the highest levels of the Authority, Carrington must uncover the truth before it destroys her. 

Initial Reaction: *****
I picked up this book because I'm an author of dystopian fiction, and so is Rachelle Dekker. It started off well, but took a while to get going. I can't say I was captured, but around the 1/3 point of the book it took a new turn that grabbed my interest.

The World: *****
I didn't get immersed int he world until about halfway through and, even then, it wasn't full immersion. It never came alive for me -- there were tastes of the culture and the greatest focus went into the politics of the culture, but it didn't feel...immersive (how many times can I use this word and get away with it?) [grin] My opinion. I hope it's not the same for other readers. :-)

Characters: *****
Carrington (main character) had an incredible arc of growth throughout the story. I ached when I had to see her broken, but I understood why she reacted the way she did because of the culture she grew up in. The ending was bittersweet, but more on the sweet side. :-) I also really liked Remko and appreciated his stutter -- way to represent, Remko!

THe only things I wasn't fond of was the insta-love. I get that carrington was grasping out for any flicker of kindness so, her instant attachment to Remko (who, like all good love-interest heroes, came to the rescue in several awful situations) made sense. But there was too much "staring into each other's eyes" and stomach-flips in the mere presence of one another. I never could completely put my finger on why they  had such insta-love. It didn't feel natural to me. Still, I cheered for them!

Aaron -- aka "the Jesus figure" -- stuck with me from the first moment I met him. Every time he showed up later, he had me excited and joyous. He was fun, wise, and an all around non-cliched likeable character.

Plot: *****
We had two plots tangled with each other -- the external plot (AH! Serial killer on the loose!) and the internal plot (explained below). I'll admit, I felt like the external plot was fairly cliche until 1/2 of the way through the book. It felt like a typical bare-bones thriller story placed in a dystopian setting. Just turn the FBI agent into a CityWatch guard. This isn't bad. I like typical thrillers here and there, but it seemed a little weak when set against the stronger inner plot.

Spiritual Content: *****
You're worthless. You need to be skinnier, taller, buffer, funnier, smoother...
That's the world's message to us. But The Choosing  goes in-depth in attacking these lies and reminding the reader of the truth -- that we are made perfect in Christ. That we are created the way we are simply because it pleases God. This is the strongest aspect of the book, which means the author did her job. I read a book to be impacted. I'm not just an entertainment reader. And this message will stick with me long after. Thank you, Rachelle Dekker.

The Writing: *****
The writing was incredibly simple, which made for a fast read. Someone compared this book to Cassandra Clare's writing and I'd ahve to agree (though I only ever made it halfway through one of Cassandra Clare's books. Sorry! I tried!) I would have liked to get deeper into the characters' poinst-of-view, deeper into the world, etc. But the simple writing lent itself to flashbacks, information dumps, and surface-level descriptions that just didn't awaken much of the story for me. (Unless we were in a scene with Aaron. Those were perfection.)

Great debut. The story was easy enough to follow, but deep enough to leave an impacting message. A strong addition to the library of Christian dystopian fiction!

Have you read it?

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Nadine Brandes is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. She writes stories about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. Her debut dystopian novel, A Time to Die, released September 2014 from Enclave Publishing. When Nadine's not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, she is out pursuing adventures. She currently lives in Idaho with her husband. You can find out more about Nadine and her books at http://nadinebrandes.com.


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