Review Blog

Jul 23 2019

Contender: The chosen by Taran Matharu

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Hodder Children's Books, 2019. ISBN: 9781444938975.
(Age: 12+) Recommended. The chosen, first in the Contender series by Tara Matharu (author of the Summoner series) was a convoluted trip to a world where the suspension of disbelief is entirely necessary. With a higher power taking control of the lives of six boys from reform school and the evident resurrection of more than a few prehistoric species, Cade Carter's world is about to change irrevocably.
Convicted of a crime he didn't commit and losing not only his full-ride scholarship but the trust of both of his parents, Cade is sentenced to twelve months in a detention facility with other delinquent juveniles, forced to live in fear and silence - anything to keep the target off his back. But things are not as they seem when he is wrenched yet again from life as he knows it and introduced to a never-before-known level of terror - that of being a contender. Just what that means, Cade doesn't know and he doesn't have much time to think given he's too busy fighting for his life as monsters emerge from the deepest recesses of his mind. Seeing living dinosaurs might be a palaeontologist's dream, but for a boy desperate to keep his life it's more of a nightmare. Separated from the others, Cade must exercise his intellect as well as his physical endurance in order to save his own life, and possibly even that of the Earth itself.
With high stakes and misunderstood young offenders, Matharu presents an action novel very similar to a video game. As the novel goes on the characters become more fleshed out and their problems more familiar. Eric, the broodiest and most frightening guy in the school, softens, revealing his story and how he ended up in the misfit school. Jim, always having been under Finch's power, finds the courage to stand up for his beliefs. Cade, always blending into the background in an effort not to be noticed, assumes the role of leader - his intellect and strength guiding forces for the group in the battle to come.
I would recommend to boys aged twelve and up interested in video games and history.
Kayla Gaskell

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