on September 28th 2012
Fifteen-year-old Albert has just received an invitation that could transform his disappointing life completely – a chance to belong to an advanced and hidden society that only reveals itself to a select few.
Immersed in a new world of mind-boggling technology and intriguing peers, Albert will overcome his fears enough to ignore a few suspicious details. But soon he'll find his family dragged to the center of a scandal that threatens to tear them apart and erase their very identities.
A conflicted Albert must find the strength to challenge authority by relying on his newfound allies and gift for Revelation.
Prepare for adventure, humor and suspense in this fast-paced tale of a “normal” family striving for their place in a “perfect” world.
The Chosen of Gaia is a fantasy of a Utopian world from the eyes of a teenager. It’s listed as YA on Goodreads, but I would definitely call it a MG read, and a very simple one at that. The story surrounds a family from Earth that is chosen to a different planet, one far more advanced then our own, in order to help it grow in terms of population, knowledge, and with their specific abilities. It is a pretty basic concept, but the downside is the execution is just as primitive.
As previously mentioned, The Chosen of Gaia reads like a MG book, and once I realized that I eventually got used to the obviousness of concepts used, and limited vocabulary to go along with it. That was fine. However, the problem comes with the extreme lack of depth of every part of the book. Characters, plot, world building, romance, it is all so… surface level.
While everyone in the family plays a role, it is the twin teenagers, Albert and Ruth, that are the main characters. Supposedly they are both 15, but Albert behaves like a 12 year-old, and Ruth more like someone around 17. Albert is your classic misfit. He’s shy, awkward around girls, slightly geeky but mostly just oafish. He’s the first, and most obvious example of how each character is little more than a trope/cliche. Ruth is the protective one, with a quick temper for those she doesn’t like, and she gets annoyed when Albert embarrasses himself, and often consequently her too. She is more practical, and a stronger character in general, and while she fills the classic “older sister/sibling” role, she does so with some personality.
Sadly those two are the highlight of their family, as the parents are 100% empty shells with singular personalities. The father is consumed with his job and doesn’t have hobbies, other interests, or any character outside of his work, and this is something actually pointed out by the book! The mother is the caring one, but she is purely there to be a wife/mom, and when her husband has issues she has a complete meltdown. They are throwaway characters, and Mariz does nothing to hide that fact.
Staying with the characters, I’ll briefly touch on the side-characters, aka the friends and love interests. While the MCs were hollow, their group of friends is even worse. Violet, Albert’s barbie-doll of a crush, does get some character development, as she shows loyalty, and sensitivity despite the implications surrounding her friends and their family. I give her some credit. Phin, Ruth’s boy toy has no personality and is only there to give her someone to latch onto, blah. Finally, Nicolaus, is the comedian of the group, and is only around to lighten the mood…which he usually fails at for the reader anyhow. His dialogue is childish and uninteresting, just like him.
You may be wondering now, why am I so character-focused in a fantasy book? Where is the cool sci-fi tech/fantasy elements? What of this new world? My answer is simple, as much as I was unimpressed by the characters, the depth of them is far greater (though still little at best for most) than the world around them, or what bit of plot actually exists.
The futuristic tech is very childlike in its focus. Clothes you can customize completely, houses that can be altered to whatever color or design you’d like at a whim, instant-food (that’s actually good and involves no cooking), and other such trivial things. Yes, there is instant-transmission styled transport, but it isn’t explained very well, and the world they are traveling in is described as a large rural community anyhow, keeping to simple and environmentally-focused lifestyle and design.
Abilities such as wiping memory, visions, mood altering, and forcing people to be their true selves are a few of the notable “powers” found in The Chosen of Gaia, and are some of the few fantastical elements in an otherwise more sci-fi type of world. There are amplifiers to boost the abilities of people, used predictably for good and for bad reasons, but most aren’t worth noting.
Then there is the previously mentioned excuse for a plot. A scandal involving Albert’s parents, the death of a leader, and a scheme to rally the people of Gaia against all of the “chosen” forces the teenage group of misfits into action. They must reveal the truth of what happened, prove the innocence of those they care about, and do it all against some mean grownups from an ancient order. While that sounds interesting, Mariz fails to give it any more depth than I did. Every detail is obvious in advance, there is no mystery to this whodunit, and silly childish schemes miraculously work by all the evidence falling in the laps of Albert and company.
A boring new world was the first disappointment, the lack of plot the most egregious error, and the mostly bland, lifeless, and cliched characters the final straw. The only positive for me with The Chosen of Gaia were the solid pacing, as it was an easy and quick read, but otherwise there just wasn’t any depth here. Everything was surface-level and because of that I didn’t care about the characters or their plight. This is not the Utopia you are looking for. Thanks as always for reading and come back tomorrow for the next random book!
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: