Like all citizens since the Ruining, Carrington Hale knows the importance of this day. But she never expected the moment she’d spent a lifetime preparing for―her Choosing ceremony―to end in disaster. Ripped from her family, she’ll spend her days serving as a Lint, the lowest level of society. She knows it’s her duty to follow the true way of the Authority.
But as Carrington begins this nightmare, rumors of rebellion rattle her beliefs. Though the whispers contradict everything she’s been told, they resonate deep within.
Then Carrington is offered an unprecedented chance at the life she’s always dreamed of, yet she can’t shake the feeling that it may be an illusion. With a killer targeting Lints and corruption threatening the highest levels of the Authority, Carrington must uncover the truth before it destroys her.
I love to read new authors, so I was excited for this opportunity to read Rachelle Dekker’s debut novel. I am a fan of her father, Ted Dekker, so I was doubly excited to read this one. I think a lot of Ted Dekker fans might read this novel because of the name, but I was happy to conclude that Rachelle is a talented author in her own right.
There are a lot of wonderful things about this book to enjoy. The characters are interesting and the plot moves along at a nice pace. The best part of the book, in my opinion, is the end. There will be a follow-up novel coming out in the Spring of 2016, but this book has a nice conclusion on its own. So many times when a book is part of a series, the ending either leaves readers hanging so much that it seems impossible to wait, or it wraps up so completely that readers don’t necessarily have to read the next book, unless they really love the characters. Dekker does a great job wrapping it up, but still leaving readers wanting to know what happens next.
I love the paradox of the mantra drilled into the young girls, “Not to be chosen would yield a cruel fate of my own making” when ultimately they have no choice in their society. I also love the way Carrington learns that she is already chosen, by Someone who chooses us all.
The only small criticism I have about the book that would have made it so much better for me is if there was more of an introduction or background as to what was happening at the beginning. It becomes clear later, but I wish I could have experienced Carrington’s anxiety at being chosen. I also wish I could have known why no one ultimately chose her. I have my ideas, but sometimes I like to know what the author thinks.
Any fan of dystopian fiction would love this book. It is a different take on a common genre, at least these days it seems to be everwhere. I can’t wait to read the next book and find out what is next for this society where all the power is put into the rules of the Authority.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale Publishers in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.
Keep reading for Q & A’s with Rachelle Dekker:
1. How did you come up with the story for The Choosing?
This is a hard question because it has many answers. I wanted to write a theme-based novel about identity. I wanted to write a dystopian novel. I wanted to write in a world that was familiar, but in a setting where I could change the way the world worked. It actually is several ideas I’d been toying with pulled into one story. Once I landed on Carrington’s core revelation and story arc, I simply fell in love with her as a character and drew the rest of the story around her. That’s usually how it works for me. I come up with a character, good or bad, and create the story from there.
2. You based your main character, Carrington, off of your younger sister. In what ways is Carrington like her?
It’s more the beliefs that Carrington struggles with that remind me of my sister. The idea of worth, of not feeling like you’re enough, or questioning whether anyone would choose you. Carrington came about as I spent time with my sister and her college-age friends and saw that a large majority of them were searching for significance, searching for worth—none more than my sister at the time.
3. Throughout the book, Carrington struggles with understanding her identity and worth and what is true. Why did you decide to write about the theme of identity?
Someone once asked me, If you could leave one message for your younger sisters, what would it be? The answer was always the same: I would pray they knew what they were worth. Identity is everything. There isn’t a theme that doesn’t start with identity, or circle back to identity. Knowing who you truly are is the greatest journey we face. Am I enough;
am I worth it? I believe everyone faces these questions, and I sought out to explore them through this story.
4. Do you think women tend to struggle with identity more than men?
I don’t think women struggle with identity more then men. Not at all. I just think we struggle differently. As a woman I understand the identity struggle from a female perspective more, but I think most men wonder if they’re enough just as much as women do. We are all the same at our core, really. We are on this earth for a short time, trying to figure out our purpose and worth. Searching for recognition, usually in all the wrong places. The truth I am discovering is that there is no need for searching. The truth already resides inside of us. The Father has already marked us as chosen, worth it; He has already given us a purpose. It’s only a matter of looking inward to the soul and to the Creator of that soul to find our worth.
5. One of the story’s most significant lines is, “Life is a journey of remembering and forgetting.” What do you mean by this?
It means exactly what you probably think. We have these flashes of clarity where we see so clearly who we are—and our connection to the Father—but then, in a single moment, something pulls our attention away and we forget who we are. This is the journey of life, remembering and forgetting. But I believe the more we remember, the more we set our gaze on the Father, the less often we forget.
6. What do you hope readers will take away from the story?
I hope readers are filled with joy and power as they either realize for the first time who their Father is and what they are really worth, or as they simply remember this truth.
7. Did you discover anything about your own identity through the writing process?
I will steal a line from Ted Dekker on this one: “I write to discover.” They are one and the same. Even when I think there’s nothing left to discover, if I let myself be open to discovery, it almost always comes. So yes, I did. And I told my husband, if nothing ever comes of this book, it would still have been worth writing because of the way it impacted my life.
8. What would you say to the person who is struggling, trying to find their identity in temporary, unsatisfying places?
I would say we have all been there, and that those places will only serve as a prison in the end. They may seem like happiness now, but eventually they will become suffering. But that’s just part of the journey of identity. Some people need to learn the hard way—I did for sure! I searched for significance in darkness and somehow the Father still led me to the light. So when I see people going through what I did, I empathize, but also know that in a single moment they can discover their true identity.
9. The Choosing is the first of a three-book series. What can we expect in the next two books?
More struggles with identity, but in different ways. Familiar characters dealing with fear and worry and forgiveness. We’ll walk with our characters as they continue to understand the true way of Aaron’s Father. More excitement, more romance (of course), and more self-discovery.
10. What is it like being Ted Dekker’s daughter? Did your father help you with the writing process?
Being Ted’s daughter is wonderful! He’s the best, but then I hope many daughters feel that way about their fathers. He is a bit of a mystery, though. Sometimes, even sitting at the dinner table, I can tell he’s lost in thought, and I wonder what it might be like to have his mind.
It’s been a blessing to watch him write and struggle with writing, so that now when I struggle I have an understanding ear to talk off. He is always willing to talk me through the emotional and mental side of writing (which is where the biggest battles lie in wait) but as far as story, for the most part he lets me fend for myself. It’s always been important to me to write through my challenges on my own. To figure out scenes alone. In fact, he didn’t even read The Choosing until I was already in conversations with Tyndale about publication. I think that’s because he wanted me to believe I could do it on my own.
But when I doubt my ability as a writer, and when I forget who I am, he is the one I call. And he reminds me that life is a journey of remembering and forgetting, and helps me in remembering once again.