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WesternSFA
Chosen: Book One in the Journey to Ysryiia
by C. M. Reber
AuthorHouse, $14.95, 504pp
Release Date: April 28, 2011

In SF, other worlds can reveal truths about “the real world” with directness, ruthlessness, and richness; the difference is usually that Wonderland, or Oz, or Narnia, or whatever the alternate reality is called, is never boring, never banal, never meaningless. Everything matters, most especially the person who has been a nonentity in Kansas or high school. A story of this nature has extraordinary appeal, because so many of us have a dream world or a dream life in which we are the necessary, unlikely hero. We feel the resonance between the world of the story and our own dream world. And so we read, eagerly, to see what truths, what realities the protagonist will discover about herself or himself, hoping that some of these will bear on our own situation. After all, the next book may contain a golden key that will unlock some mystery in our own life.

In Chosen , the protagonist is 17-year-old Kate, and the other world is Ysryiia. Brooklyn is hardly Kansas , and there are probably thousands of teens who’d rather live in New York than any imaginary world ever described, but since these stories are, at heart, always about inner worlds, and peril-fraught discovery, and becoming your true self, even Brooklyn on its own merits isn’t good enough.

Usually there is a way back to “the real world” and the whole point of the otherworldly adventure is to learn how to cope better with this one, how to come into one’s own. Chosen seems to takes a different, drastic tack. This is more about radically new beginnings, the kind of life changes that require you to reinvent yourself, redefine yourself – and learn a new language.

Kate finds herself with a destiny and a friend, and for the first time she has to take herself seriously. It’s no longer about being a good girl, fitting in, impressing teachers. The stakes are much, much higher now, and Kate has to grow up quickly, and a big part of that is learning to have faith in herself.

A big part of this book’s appeal, if you like such things, is the linguistic detail – the author’s brother invented the language – and vivid imagining of Ysryiia. Kate may be essential to the place, but it is not just about her. For Jeter, Ysryiia itself matters; it's real enough to have detailed maps, back stories, intrigues, - and a genuine need for a heroine. Kate herself is the golden key.

Okay, so now I’m waiting for the sequel. Good work, Jeter! ~~ Chris R. Paige

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