Chosen by Benedict Jacka (2015 Review)

Chosen (Alex Verus, #4)Chosen by Benedict Jacka

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The past comes back to hunt Alex in the form of a group of magical adepts, which of whom prove to be more than he can handle when they seem to constantly know his whereabouts. With death around the corner, Alex must contemplate the very way he lives his life, and what lengths he’ll go to to see another day.

(WARNING: This review contains minor spoilers.)

I was pleasantly surprised, and to be honest I still am, at the complete turnaround in this instalment. I found Chosen had so much improvement, as it moved away from the serious issues I had, and so I thoroughly enjoyed it more than the previous three, but what was so different about it? Well, Alex certainly didn’t suffer from invincibility, nor did he have to constantly save poor damsels in distress, in fact, he was the one that needed saving by women on more than one occasion. It was a total breath of fresh air and I almost couldn’t put it down. Almost. The overall tone was also a lot darker, exploring Alex’s reawakened need for survival and how delving into past instincts affected his newly formed friendships. The events in this one were important, clearly not meant to be mere filler, but instead changing the direction of the series. It’s the best one so far, and I can only hope Jacka will continue on this path.

I very much liked the introduction of Anne and Variam in Taken, as they were less irritating (and stupid) than Luna and offered quite different personalities – Variam could be considered detached, even cold at times, whilst Anne is caring and always strives to do the right thing. Thankfully, they remained members of the inner circle and played their own strong, relevant parts with great characterisation. Whether their relationships are solid enough to withstand anything, well, that has yet to be seen even though it was surely tested. I still think that there’s a possibility of a romance between Anne and Alex, which would be interesting indeed. Perhaps Luna and Variam as well? Their obvious dislike could be covering up their attraction, who knows? If it’s one thing the series is lacking, it’s the romance factor, but of course that’s not a bad thing. I’m positive it’ll crop up at some point, hell even just sex, because Alex is an adult male that has needs.

The more I find out about Alex, the more I become fond of him. Yes, I still find the sheer expanse of his skills a little ridiculous (he still knows how to do everything, from swordplay to gambling to dancing to martial arts, the list goes on), but he has a lot of depth. He may save the day, be a hero, but he’s certainly in the grey area. He’ll do anything to stay alive, even kill. In this one he questioned himself and had some self-loathing going on, which definitely made him more believable as a character. My most favourite however, is Rachel. She’s insane and lethal, but there’s so much more going on with her than meets the eye. The dark shadow that entered her is something I really want to know more about.

The plot was quickly paced, apart from the couple of instances it slowed down to retell scenes from the past, but I nevertheless enjoyed as it told more of the mystery that was Rachel and Shireen. The group of teenagers that turned out to be Alex’s most challenging foes were seriously unlikeable. I understood their desire for revenge, and what happened to Will’s sister was horrible, but they were egotistical brats and I refuse to even type the name they called themselves, it was just too silly. Caldera though, she was one tough woman and it was nice to see a heavier female amongst the thin and beautiful. I hope she returns.

In conclusion: Definitely the strongest so far, with less predictable plot points, and with that ending, I really want to know what happens next. I’m looking forward to it!

Notable Quote:

I know I come off as arrogant sometimes. When you can see the future it’s easy to pretend you know everything, and to other people it probably looks like I do. But being able to see the future doesn’t make you any smarter or wiser than anyone else, and it doesn’t stop you making stupid mistakes. It lets you know what the problem is and how big the problem is but it doesn’t give you the power to do anything about it. When it comes down to it, the reason I act all-knowing isn’t because I think I know everything. It’s because I know I don’t and I’m desperately trying to stop my enemies from figuring that out. And if you keep up an act to fool other people, sometimes you end up fooling yourself as well.

© Red Lace 2015

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