Book Review: The Choosing by Jeremy Lallo

The Choosing by Jeremy Lallo  is the first book in a fantasy series called Blood and Brotherhood.  Seth and Garret are twins setting out on a required journey, a trip to ceremony that will decide the next five years of their life.Garret knows that he wants to be chosen to fight for the country, but Seth is torn since he would much rather help others than fight anyone. They are joined by a young healer on his way to the Choosing as well. Before long they are joined by another and Seth quickly falls in love. Their journey is dangerous, and the destination holds mystery and fear as they move forward toward their future.

The Choosing has everything that makes the start of a great fantasy series. There are gods, warring factions, a love story, mysterious or tragic origins for at least one major character, and world building that is both complete and entertaining. I really enjoyed the larger back story about the origin of man and the sources of the gods power. I have seen similar ideas before, but not expressed in the same way. I enjoyed the dynamics of the relationship between Seth and Garret, particularly their acceptance and intelligent use of their differences. The characters are each solidly built and consistent in their actions and choices. Their first companion, Ashton, is equally well built and constant. His gifts and thoughtful ways are exactly the foil the two other boys needed to round out their travel party.

Now on to the one thing that bothered me through out this book. As soon as the boys ran across Sara and she joined the group, I found myself skimming sections. She is not a terrible character. She has a sad story and has a great memory, which makes her very intelligent and a wonderful asset to the group. However, Seth and Sara seem to fall instantly in love and spend much of the rest of the book brooding or making out. I appreciated Seth's honor, and Sara's connection of physical contact with love, but it just got to be a bit much. There was no more than an instant connection, gratitude, and a urge to protect that bound them together rather than a well built relationship. That bothered me, as did the pages and pages of the pair 'exploring' each other and testing the limits of how far they could go without actually having sex and the 'fighting of urges'. It is not that I am a prude or do not enjoy a good love scene, as you can tell from the other books I have reviewed here, but it was simply not necessary to move the story forward, and I think the tale would have done better without most (if not all) of that aspect of the story. The pair falling in love is fine, but I would rather they form a real relationship rather than just thinking of each other as guardian and angel as they fool around. Wow, that was quite the tirade for me.

With all that said, I enjoyed the larger story line of The Choosing and still will recommend it to older teens and adults. If it had not been for the physical aspects of the relationship between Seth and Sara I would have recommended it to middle school students and older. I really did enjoy the world, and for the most part, the characters. I will be looking at the next installment of the Blood and Brotherhood Saga, which is titled The Chosen and will likely continue on as long as my enjoyment of the large story arch is greater than my annoyance with the 'romance'.
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