Chosen: Doesn’t stand out

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsurban fantasy book reviews Jeanne C Stein The Anna Strong Chronicles ChosenChosen by Jeanne C. Stein

I read the first ANNA STRONG novel, The Becoming, some time ago and didn’t like it. Because of this, I haven’t kept up with the series. When I received a review copy of Chosen, however, I was curious. Now that I’ve read it, I will say that Chosen is superior to The Becoming, but that this series will probably never be one of my favorites.

Anna Strong is approaching the first anniversary of her transformation into a vampire. Rumor says she’s the Chosen One, and according to legend, the Chosen One’s powers will fully manifest on that anniversary. Needless to say, Anna is a little freaked out when she does start developing new traits, such as an ability to sniff out “evil” followed by the overwhelming urge to kill the person she has identified as evil. Then an attempt is made on her life, which doesn’t do much to assuage her worries.

She dispatches the assassin, though, and then has sex with her boyfriend Lance at the scene of the fight. Lance is a fellow vampire who is also a male model and the scion of an old, wealthy family. Anna is smitten with him, and in the early chapters of Chosen, they have sex… a lot. The sex may pose a problem to some readers, not because it’s there but because of the way it’s handled. The frequency of the sex scenes is consistent with an erotic novel, but the style of these scenes is not. There’s very little description of the buildup of tension, of foreplay, or even of the act itself; the scenes are brief and sort of come out of nowhere. So, readers who aren’t looking for an erotic novel may get sick of the sex interrupting the plot, while readers who are looking for an erotic novel will probably find these scenes lacking in sensuality. Indeed, there’s much more sexual tension between Anna and an ex-boyfriend who is only a platonic pal in this installment.

Things pick up when Lance is compelled to introduce Anna to his sinister sire, Julian Underwood. Underwood has teamed up with an old enemy of Anna’s, Warren Williams, to try and force her into accepting her role as the Chosen One. This leads into a suspenseful plot filled with action and backstabbing. There are a few glitches here, particularly one scene in which Anna really should have caught on to someone acting suspiciously and didn’t, but for the most part the plot works. I enjoyed the poignant scene where Anna has to kill someone she once cared about, and her flash of insight about why she in particular would make a good leader of vampires.

So, in the end Chosen held my attention and had some high points, but my experience was marred by the rocky early chapters in which there’s simply too much sex, too often. The series has improved but still doesn’t really stand out in the overcrowded vampire field.

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KELLY LASITER, with us since July 2008, is a mild-mannered academic administrative assistant by day, but at night she rules over a private empire of tottering bookshelves. Kelly is most fond of fantasy set in a historical setting (a la Jo Graham) or in a setting that echoes a real historical period (a la George RR Martin and Jacqueline Carey). She also enjoys urban fantasy and its close cousin, paranormal romance, though she believes these subgenres’ recent burst in popularity has resulted in an excess of dreck. She is a sucker for pretty prose (she majored in English, after all) and mythological themes.

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