A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of reading an ARC of Rachelle Dekker’s debut novel The Choosing. Before I dove into it, I was worried I’d built up my expectations too high. I’d really enjoyed the conversations I’d had with her at the Re:Write conference—she’s fun and funny and down-to-earth—and I’m a long-time fan of her father’s books. (Yup, she’s the daughter of bestselling author Ted Dekker.) Surely this book couldn’t be as good as I was hoping it would be.
I’m delighted to admit I was wrong. Very wrong. I stayed up until midnight devouring this book. (My friends know I turn into a grumpy gremlin after 10:30. Midnight is a really big deal.) When I was searching for a descriptive word for my Goodreads review, breathtaking was the first adjective that came to mind. The world-building was enjoyable, the pacing exceptionally good, and the characters well-drawn. I particularly fell in love with the protagonist, Carrington Hale, who is flawed and insecure but never annoying.
The dystopia-romance-coming of age theme that the novel centers around could have been tired. We’ve seen it rehashed at least two hundred times in the last two years, but I really liked Rachelle’s fresh spin on it—a dystopia rooted in a distorted religion, a romance that takes a backseat to the protagonist’s own journey grappling with her identity, and a culmination that feels realistic. Here, we don’t have yet another teenage girl leading a fight to overthrow the tyrannical government. (Katniss, don’t take this the wrong way; we still love you.) We just have Carrington—a young woman on the cusp of adulthood trying to figure out who she is and where she fits against the backdrop of a misogynistic, rigid society terrified of change. It’s refreshing.
My critiques are very minor: I felt one plot point’s early reveal was a missed opportunity to build suspense, and there were a few editing issues, but I’m of course a snob when it comes to editing, and, most importantly, I read an ARC, which means it’s likely those editing issues will have been cleaned up by release day.
In short: It’s well worth your time. I’m a huge fan of Rachelle’s talent. She’s the real deal and has written a wonderful novel! Pre-order it now, and help her build momentum on social media by reposting with the hashtag #TheChoosing! I can’t wait for you to read it!