Thank you to Hodder Children’s Books and Netgalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Having loved the Summoner books by Taran Matharu I was so excited when he announced his new series The Contender especially as it was set in a world with dinosaurs! And this book did not disappoint!
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Throughout history, people have vanished with no explanation. A group of teenagers are about to discover why.
Cade is settling into a new boarding school, contemplating his future, when he finds himself transported to another realm. He soon discovers their new world is populated with lost remnants from the past: prehistoric creatures, ancient relics, and stranger still — people. Overwhelmed by his new surroundings, Cade has little time to adjust, for soon he and his fellow classmates are forced to become contenders in a brutal game, controlled by mysterious overlords.
But who are these beings and why did they choose these teens? Cade must prepare for battle . . . because hiding is not an option.
The Chosen opens with Cade already in this alternate world faced with a creature he’s never seen before so right from the beginning we’re thrown into the action. I really liked that as it made me even more intrigued about the story and how Cade ended up there.
We get the backstory of Cade and his classmates throughout the book through Cade so we slowly get an idea of why the characters behave the way they do with each other. It was interesting to see the dynamics between them all and how they had to try and get a long because of the situation they were in. They have conflicts and don’t always agree on things but I wish we had gotten to see more of that in the story.
The story is fast paced and lots happen throughout the book. They have to face dinosaurs and lots of other creatures. I really loved how immersive it was and how he weaved real history and fiction together, the history nerd in me totally loved all mentions of historical facts! The history is actually an important aspect of the story too and one of the reasons that Cade is chosen to be taken to this world.
I really liked Cade and how he thinks before taking action, it’s unusual for a teenage boy to think before he barrels into things so that was nice to see. I really liked seeing the own voices rep as Cade is half Indian and how his culture and family dynamics are. We also see the racism and discrimination he receives from some of the other boys because of it. He is looked down upon because of his lower social class and everyone assumes he is guilt because of how he looks and that he isn’t rich. I liked that he does battle with these emotions and how it makes him feel despite being a top student his opportunities are taken from him. I really hope we get to see more own voices rep in books.
Another character I really liked was Quintus, who Cade meets in this world, he helps Cade and the others and even teaches them how to use some weapons. He has hearing difficulties and we see how he is unable to communicate with others and how that makes him feel isolated and lonely. Cade also meets a group of teenage girls while on this world and they also help him and I loved seeing them flip stereotypes that girls aren’t as capable as boys.
Throughout the whole story we are left to wonder why Cade and the others have been sent to this world. There is a lot of intrigue and mystery and it made me want to read just one more chapter. The ending of the book was so intense and kept me on the edge of my feet. They have to face these terrifying creatures and there are some things that happen that I was not expecting at all which left me reeling. We only get an idea of why Cade has been sent to this world right at the end which of course is then left on a cliffhanger and I just want to know what will happen next!
This book is full of action and intrigue and unlike any other book I’ve read. If you love dinosaurs and history then I highly recommend you pick up The Chosen! I am already dying to know what will happen in the next book!