THE CHOSEN TWELVE
There are 22 candidates. There are 12 seats.
The last interstellar colony ship is down to its final batch of humans after the robots in charge unhelpfully deleted the rest. But rebooting a species and training them for the arduous task of colonisation isn’t easy – especially when the planet below is filled with monsters, the humans are more interested in asking questions than learning, and the robots are all programmed to kill each other.
But the fate of humanity rests on creating a new civilization on the planet below, and there are twelve seats on the lander. Will manipulation or loyalty save the day?
MY REVIEW *****
‘To humanity in general. There couldn’t be a dystopian future without you.’
The dedication for The Chosen Twelve really sets the tone for the rest of the novel. It’s a sci-fi dystopian thriller which had me chuckling out-loud from before the first page all the way through to its surprisingly heart-felt ending. This was the first 2022 ARC I read and my goodness, it really sets the bar high for the rest of the year.
The setting is gloriously creepy, and the world-building is deep and interesting which creates a chilling atmosphere. The twenty-two last-chances for humankind live aboard a crumbling spaceship, surrounded by ‘digitals’ who are slowly getting more corrupted as the years tick by. The colony ship is ‘safe’ (to a certain extent) but the outer halls are patrolled by digitals gone wrong. They are either inhabited by mad ‘ghosts’ with a grudge (think med-bots who hate you, are unwilling to treat you and want to murder you instead) or are ‘zots’ – a kind of zombie bot who will do their intended purpose regardless of anything stopping them. The children aboard have been educated by the bots and are constantly running simulations to prove that they will be able to conquer the planet below them and re-start the human race (and, more importantly, restart the digital race alongside them). The idea of being stranded on a space-station with machines slowly degrading and going mad around you is a great one and although this book is a fantastic example of a compelling stand-alone sci-fi, I would really love to read more based in a setting like this. I also liked the idea of ‘The Table’ where the simulations are run which gave the book a very ‘Enders Game’ feel.
The characters are interesting, and humans and digitals alike all feel very real and well-defined. My only criticisms for this book would be that 22 characters does feel like a lot in places, and I found it hard to keep them all straight in my head, particularly at the beginning. We do have two main characters to focus on though – Delta and Gamma and they are both unique and bold. I must give a shout-out to another special character – Spencer the vacuum-bot who was a cute addition to the character list. My only other criticism would be that all the children are 12 years old, (although they have had their aging stopped), but 12 seemed like a very young age and I struggled to picture them properly. I think had they been 14/15 this would have felt more realistic.
The wit and humour of the writing was a joy to read and continued throughout the novel. The ending really ramped up the pace and the story turned into a gory and intense thriller which showcased the darker parts of human nature. Although a few reviewers have been asking about a sequel, I actually think the ending was perfect for a stand-alone novel – it gives the reader enough to come up with their own conclusions about what might have happened next. That being said, if another book emerges in the future, I will be queuing up to get myself a copy!
Overall, The Chosen Twelve was my first book read for a 2022 publishing date and has gained a Kindig Gem. A fantastically creepy sci-fi in a brilliant setting, with wit and humour laced throughout – highly recommended! Thank you to NetGalley & Rebellion – Solaris for the chance to read the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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