Book Review: The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams

Read this book if you want to be kept in suspense, and have your blood raging and your fists clenched.

Kyra is a thirteen-year-old girl who lives in a cult called The Chosen Ones. We hear the story from her point of view, so we’re limited in our understanding of the cult. We learn, however, that it’s a polygamist cult; her father has several wives and many, many children. He rotates which house (trailer) to stay at each week. Kyra has several problems living in the cult: multiple wives often become jealous of each other and fears becoming one herself; “The God Squad” is always watching (with guns) for dissent; one of her passions, reading (by sneaking books from a mobile library) is forbidden; she is in love with a boy her own age within the cult; and she has been “chosen” to marry her uncle of 50+ years.

I have mentioned before that I have a preference for books written in the past tense; this one was written in the present tense, which annoyed me until I became drawn into the story. I did enjoy the book, and it kept me on edge, but I felt that the cult wasn’t creepy enough because it was almost too obvious. I’ll admit that I’m no expert on cults, but I wanted to know a little more about the adults in the cult—why they joined in the first place, or why their parents joined in the first place. I also wanted to know more about why/how the authorities didn’t intervene earlier.

I’ll also admit that I’m not super religious, but I would have liked to see maybe a few Bible verses (the Bible was all they were allowed to read) to see how the cult leaders were corrupting the intended spirit of the Bible—Kyra is well-read and smart enough to see such hypocrisy, and I think that would have added more depth about how different groups are able to distort the true spirit of religion. For someone whose whole life was dictated by “religion,” I wanted to see a bit more of it. This would have helped add complexity to the book.

Overall, though, it’s a fast, suspenseful read for young adults. I could see this book acting as a hook, fostering interest in studying cults in terms of helping those who have been drawn in.


 

This book is one of the 2014-15 Loudoun County Battle of the Books selections. The selections are as follows. Since The Scarred Letter was chosen as one of the selections, I will be attending the competition and will also be reading the rest of the selections. Books I’ve reviewed from this list are hyperlinked: