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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

The Not So Chosen One by Kate Emery

The trope of the magic high school has been done a lot over the last few years, certainly inspired by Rowling’s world no doubt. But demand remains, and for good reason - they offer such scope to grow characters and develop ideas that are otherworldly, without losing a character who has very human qualities.

Indeed, Emery has done just that with her debut novel, The Not So Chosen One. As the name suggests, our main character - Lucy - seems to have fallen on her feet. Yes she is pregnant. Yes she seems to be struggling at school. But she also has an opportunity to join the most prestigious (and hidden) school in Perth. It’s called Drake’s College, but for those who aren’t magical, it appears as little more than an extension school for the gifted - and somewhere that Lucy just doesn’t seem to belong. Things start to go awry at the college when mysterious happenings begin occurring at the school and the teachers are getting concerned for the safety of the whole school.

Then there is Jack, one of the teaching assistants at Drake’s College, who seems to know more than he’s letting on. Lucy begins spending a lot of time with Jack as they navigate the strange things at Drake’s. But how much is he holding back? How much is he being forced to hold back?

Kate Emery has a very easy to read writing style. She manages to maintain a sense of pace without ever breaking into some of the more obvious tropes of the YA genre. The dialogue is believable and even though it does include expletives, it keeps them at a realistic level for teens in Australia.

Most notable is the shift from the typical American or UK high school environment of others in a similar genre. The closeness to home really did have an effect for a New Zealand audience. The fact that there are relatable situations added to the enjoyment of the whole book.

Of particular interest is the set up for what must be a sequel. If not, then the ending was a disappointment. There is much still to develop in the story and the sequences that led to the ending as it stands will feel disjointed and unfinished.

Overall, this is a great addition to the YA genre, and a thoroughly enjoyable, pacey and funny book that will entertain even the most reluctant of readers.

Reviewer: Chris Reed

Text Publishing


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