Paperback, 416 pages
Expected publication: January 7th 2014 by Strange Chemistry
Source: Net Galley
Seventeen-year-old Riven is as tough as they come. But coming from a world ravaged by a devastating android war, she has to be. There’s no room for softness, no room for emotion, no room for mistakes. A Legion General, she is the right hand of the young Prince of Neospes, a parallel universe to Earth. In Neospes, she has everything: rank, responsibility and respect. But when Prince Cale sends her away to find his long-lost brother, Caden, who has been spirited back to modern day Earth, Riven finds herself in uncharted territory.
Thrown out of her comfort zone but with the mindset of a soldier, Riven has to learn how to be a girl in a realm that is the opposite of what she knows. Riven isn’t prepared for the beauty of a world that is unlike her own in so many ways. Nor is she prepared to feel something more than indifference for the very target she seeks. Caden is nothing like Cale, but he makes something in her come alive, igniting a spark deep down that goes against every cell in her body. For the first time in her life, Riven isn’t sure about her purpose, about her calling. Torn between duty and desire, she must decide whether Caden is simply a target or whether he is something more.
Faced with hideous reanimated Vector soldiers from her own world with agendas of their own, as well as an unexpected reunion with a sister who despises her, it is a race against time to bring Caden back to Neospes. But things aren’t always as they seem, and Riven will have to search for truth. Family betrayals and royal coups are only the tip of the iceberg. Will Riven be able to find the strength to defy her very nature? Or will she become the monstrous soldier she was designed to be?
So I’ll go out on a limb and say that the new year will bring lots of science fiction-ey, non-dystopian drama our way. Amalie Howard’s The Almost Girl is fast-paced and full of action. It features bad guys, technology, aliens, cute boys who seem beta until they start fighting and a badass heroine. It’s entertainment at its best and I enjoyed it quite a bit.
It begins with a chase, the 14 year old running from A.I. soldiers who are nearly undefeatable. If you are not Riven who has super special powers that make her more amazing than amazing can be. Special snowflake status granted. She’s looking for someone and risks her life to teleport from one place to another on earth and across universes. And then he finds her – actually, he rescues her which made me snicker because you know, how else would you know Prince Charming? Even if you are a badass soldier?
There are deep meaningful things to keep emotional interplay going – the sister, the relative who I will not name, the father who is more evil genius than a parent. The morally ambiguous mission Riven is on that makes her rethink her priorities and the people she calls allies. The connection she feels with the target that she has no business feeling. The betrayal at the end and the revelations that are very upsetting for Riven and shake her to the core.
The book has a lot of elements that make it very good entertainment. However, I felt that the villainous characters could have been better and more developed. The readers don’t see them until the denouement of the novel and by then, it’s too late to say anything of any substance. If I am to believe in the treachery of the people involved, I need to be convinced that the facets of their personality are complex. What totally annoyed me was how Riven and her target break into her father’s house to get something of importance from there and instead of finishing up their errand and getting out of there pronto, they start making out. In the enemy’s house. I mean, seriously? All the cred the novel had built up till then flitted away. Any respect I had felt for Riven before then flitted away. I mean, who does that? She’s a solider, a super special snowflake assassin solider. Why doesn’t she know better than to make out with her boyfriend in the enemy’s house?
Yeah, I was a bit angered by that. Ahem. Anyway, at the end of it all, I thought it was interesting and I will most definitely read the second one in the series barring any future incidents like the one mentioned above.