Hi friends! This was the book I received for my January Bookish Box! Each month you get a new title (often they’re signed or have unique covers or artwork!) along with some really cute goodies and things from small artists. I’m not a Bookish Box affiliate or partner (I wish!), but you can sign up using my referral link here, if you’re interested.
Synopsis & Quick Thoughts
Unchosen is the newest book by Katharyn Blair. In this dystopian, post-apocalyptic zombie novel, we follow Charlotte Holloway, the middle child in a special family: her older sister Harlow commands a group of survivors and is dating Charlotte’s childhood crush, Dean, and her younger sister, Vanessa, is the Chosen One, with the rumored power to end the zombie curse. When Charlotte tries to save her sister by pretending she’s the Chosen One instead, she’s taken on a wild ride of rebellions, imprisonment, and love.
I don’t see a whole lot of young adult fantasy standalones these days, so this was a really cool surprise. Overall, I really enjoyed it and had a great time. I wouldn’t say that I’m one for zombie media (pretty much just World War Z and the first five seasons of The Walking Dead), but this was a lot more than a stereotypical zombie book and I appreciated that. There were a number of things I really liked: the sea captains and pirate vibes, most of the characters, and, surprisingly, the romance. I have slight issues with this being labeled as a feminist fantasy and the pacing of this book (mainly that it feels rushed at the end), but overall, positive thoughts!
This book surprised me in the best way. A YA fantasy standalone with zombies and I genuinely had a blast. Unchosen is super fast-paced and thrilling and I never felt bored while reading. I enjoyed all of the characters and their depth and development. I didn’t really like Charlotte as a protagonist, but in the best sort of way. She’s selfish and flawed and real and I admired the depth of her character while also wanting to jump through the pages and strangle her. Also, the romance was pretty sweet. This isn’t a love triangle book like it may have been marketed to be, but I liked that.
I also just really enjoyed reading this book at the time that I did. Although I really liked my prior read, The Only Good Indians, it took me a while to get through and was a slow burn novel, big time. This was exactly the change of pace and genre that I needed. I always read my book box titles the month after I receive them (since they’re shipped at the end of the month), and because I know it’s a set book on my TBR I like to go into them not reading the synopsis at all. I had exactly zero idea what this book was about going into it which made for a super fun surprise when I learned it was a take on the post-apocalyptic zombie thing. So, while I enjoyed Unchosen for a lot of its internal aspects, I also attribute some of my rating to it being a pleasant surprise at an opportune time.
Two issues (why do I feel like every book I review has two issues?): pacing and feminism. In terms of pacing, this book already operates at a break-necked speed. It honestly could have used about 50-100 more pages. The ending came out of nowhere and ended pretty unceremoniously. There were a lot of loose ends and plot points that were seemingly abandoned, and everything felt rushed when it didn’t need to be; this book was around 415 pages but it seemed much shorter; adding the extra pages would have done nothing but flesh out and benefit the ending.
Second, and my biggest gripe: this is not a feminist novel. It says it is and it tries to be, and in some aspects, I can see it. There are a lot of ‘choose your own destiny’ and ‘believe in yourself’ thematic elements in here. Hell, that’s what the whole ending hinges on, without going into spoilers. I dig that, I can always support a feminist theme. With that being said: Charlotte makes every decision in this book BECAUSE OF HER LOVE FOR A BOY. Ew! I mean I get it, I’m engaged, I’d make choices to try and save my fiancé, but this is a boy who is dATING HER OLDER SISTER. He DOES NOT LOVE HER, that’s made very clear. And she is PINING over this boy like a fool when she needs to put herself and the wellbeing of the entire world first. Making dumb choices because of a boy is the near antithesis of feminism. I have no problem with it being a part of her character and her making the choices that she does – I think it portrays a flawed and realistic protagonist. But…don’t market your book as a feminist fantasy with heavily contrasting themes. Doesn’t vibe with me.
Rating & Final Thoughts
Despite my feminist ramblings, I’m going to give Unchosen a 3.5 out of 5 star read. This was a really fun and different read from what I’ve been into lately, and I think a lot of the issues I took with this novel could be fixed with a changed marketing strategy (even though some of the themes/plot points would still be in direct conflict with one another…hmmm). If you’re into YA and need a lighthearted read for in between larger or heavier novels, check this one out. It’s generally a good time.
Buy Unchosen by Katharyn Blair here.