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Seventeen-year-old Riven is as tough as they come. 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?

416 pages, Kindle Edition

First published December 17, 2013

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About the author

Amalie Howard

28 books2,425 followers
AMALIE HOWARD is a USA Today and Publishers Weekly bestselling author, most notably of The Beast of Beswick, “a smart, sexy, deliciously feminist romance,” and one of O-The Oprah Magazine’s Top 24 Best Historicals to Read. She is the co-author of the #1 bestsellers in regency romance and Scottish historical romance, My Rogue, My Ruin and What A Scot Wants, and has also penned several young adult novels, critically acclaimed by Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, VOYA, School Library Journal, and Booklist, including Waterfell, The Almost Girl, and Alpha Goddess, a Kid’s INDIE NEXT selection. Of Indo-Caribbean descent, she has written articles on multicultural fiction for The Portland Book Review and Ravishly magazine. She currently resides in Colorado with her husband and three children. Visit her at amaliehoward.com.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 194 reviews
January 9, 2014
“Why’d you name me Riven? It’s so horrible,” I was wailing. “It’s not even pretty. It’s ugly, like me.”

You are Riven! Like your deadly (and ugly, remember?) name, you are an assassin! A deadly Legion General, one of the highest ranking officers in your world. You are smart, tactically brilliant! You are on a covert rescue mission on Earth, trying to masquerade as a high schooler!

Naturally, blending in is of the utmost importance. It is absolutely crucial to look like a normal high schooler, one of the masses, one to whom nobody would give a second look. Do not draw attention to yourself in any way. Keep your hair a dull, common color. Try not to attract the attention of authorities, particularly not the police.
“I mean, you look like me, well, except the hair. Yours has green and blue in it,” he points out. I touch the strands and remember that I’d dyed it four schools before, after the incident with the police.
Keep your transportation to something unobtrusive. Like an old car, nothing like a flashy, extremely expensive racing motorcycle. Nothing like...a Ducati.
...I reach the empty parking lot where [my] Ducati is parked...
Naturally, you have to get along with your classmates. Not be super super close friends with them or anything, but friendly enough not to attract negative attention.
“I get it. You don’t like being touched, you want to be alone, and you’re not looking for any friends.”
“Guys, this is Riven. New girl,” Caden says to his friends with a wide grin. “But be warned–”
“Hey, I’m Jake,” a redheaded boy interrupts with a smile. Jake trails off at the dark scowl on my face.
“As I was saying, just don’t mention her riding skills or ask her about anything personal; she gets a little touchy about that. And she’s not interested in making friends, so forget I introduced her and move along.”

You meet new people at your school. High schoolers. They're normal people, they're not fucking clichéd high school mean-girl tropes or anything like that.
[Sadie] shoots me a look that would incinerate a building. “Well, you should stick to pants. Dresses don’t really suit dykes,” she says nastily.
You would never be so petty as to slut shame someone you barely know.
...the girl tosses an icy smile in my direction, her designer white pants like a second skin and a pink shirt unbuttoned enough to show a lacy pink bra, leaving little to the imagination.
You're on a secret mission, helped along by deus ex fucking machina because everything falls into your fucking lap. There are no questions asked. There is no suspicion. You are rescued by the boy (Caden) you are intended to save. You are practically INVITED to live with him and his aunt. His aunt, who is a medical doctor. His aunt. Who is a medical doctor who is completely fooled by the bullshit medical excuse you give her. And you're not suspicious at all.
But I know that I owe them both some kind of explanation for my bizarre behavior...and for the injector that looks like it comes from some kind of super advanced robotics lab.
“Mine is a little more complicated,” I say. “I’m not allergic to bees or food. It’s a...a genetic brain thing."
You're such a powerful fighter! You move like a butterfly, sting like a bee.
I spring backward to compensate and bang my still-healing ankle into the desk chair next to the bed.
You are fierce! You are strong!
I’m faster and fiercer than anyone else. I’m death in a girl’s body.
So strong that you just flutter to the ground in a faint.
I can feel myself shutting down. I should have rested today, stayed in bed and given myself a chance to recuperate from the jump, but I’d been stupid, arrogant. My eyes slip shut.
And you faint again!
There is nothing but darkness...inexorably closing in.
“Where am I? What happened?”
“You went into circulatory shock and you fainted.”
And yet again!
It’s my last thought before I slip into an unwelcome oblivion.
You are such a competent fighter. You are always on guard. You never, ever let yourself relax for a single moment. You are the perfect soldier, really.
The cold tip of an electro-rod presses against the soft spot just beneath my ear, and my body freezes.
I feel a sharp zap against my skin, and then the darkness blinds me.
You are so utterly competent as a soldier that you don't have to do any fighting at all. Things just drop dead by deus ex fucking machina just like that! With a single command, the battle is won.
“No!” I scream. “Cease! That is an order.”
To my utter disbelief, both Vectors stop, turning in dumb submission toward me.
And yet again.
With a deep breath, I raise the staff I took off Vector Shae and prepare to do battle.

But then the unexpected happens.

Every single one of the Vectors stops in their tracks, their arms and weapons falling to their sides, eyes going blank and dull.
Well, isn't that just fucking convenient. You are such a fucking competent, a bloody brilliant general that you hardly have to fucking fight at all. And when you're in a jam, naturally, someone will save your fucking ass, O Legion Fucking General.
I can feel my cells desperately trying to re-engage, when the incongruity of the situation hits me. Caden’s the one protecting me.
You are from a country where there's been some vague Tech War. No idea what happened, but the nation has been devastated, but you guys live under a glass dome. Water is a scarcity. You've been living in the United States for years, with our abundance of water. You've presumably showered. You've presumably seen swimming pools. It's been YEARS. YEARS. The use of water shouldn't be a big deal anymore. But you, you're a fucking special one, aren't you? You are impressed by the excessive waste of water used in a WATERBED. A waterbed! Never say so! My god, how did you manage to survive all those showers and go to school with kids who must surely carry water around with them everywhere they go without knocking it out of their hands? Imagine if you saw a fucking sprinkler!
“It’s just a waterbed. They’re supposed to be soggy.”
“A water what?” The thought is inconceivable to me...a bed with water in it. When I think of the scarcity and the high cost of water where I come from, the thought of the overindulgence of Caden’s bed makes me physically sick.
Your nation is so fucking awesome that everyone is trained to fight! Men, women, all are trained in the art of combat at a young age. Riven herself has been a killer since she was a toddler.
I was lightning-fast and held the advantage of having held a sword before the age of two.

Oh man, fuck, man. Here I am at the age of 2.

I'm such a fucking failure at life, never having held a sword before as a toddler. I don't know how I can live with myself.

In your world, since it's like, decimated and all, men and women are all trained to be killers. ALL OF THEM. Trained since they can talk, trained in weaponry, fighting. And for some fucking reason, you guys have...dancers. For entertainment. Wait, what? Weren't all people essential in Neospes? Where the fuck did all the dancers come from?
Danseuses are nothing more than paid female escorts, paid to entertain wealthy citizens of Neospes
Naturally, when you go under cover, you have to go in disguise as an exotic dancer, because fulfilling a mission in your ratty soldier uniform is a fucking no-no!
Strange dark-gold extensions have been applied and braided intricately with sweet-smelling blossoms into my own hair. My skin has been oiled to a gilded sheen and colored shimmery dust applied to my eyes and cheeks. The women gesture for me to step into my costume – a filmy white and silver getup that looks like some kind of confection instead of a dress.
Naturally, your lover boy Caden gets to wear normal clothes when you're dressed as fucking Princess Leia.

Speaking of Caden. He's such a fucking gentleman, isn't he? I mean, he calls his own girlfriend a bitch.
Your girlfriend isn’t a bitch?”
A laugh. “No, she is, but Sadie’s harmless. Remind me to tell you about it later.”
Well, isn't he just the fucking catch of the day. I mean, he would actually hold you close on his bed when he's still with her.
A shiver runs through me, and warm fingers slide against my wrist. The shiver deepens. The waterbed shifts, rolling me upward as Caden turns on his side to face me. I can feel him staring at me, but I keep my eyes glued to the ceiling. His fingers skim downward to cover my closed fist in his hand.
And he loves you so much, he's such a goddamned sweetheart that he would play a lovely game of tongue twister and tonsil hockey with you while he's still got a girlfriend. And you're a willing participant in cheating.
My breaths get shorter and shorter, and suddenly his mouth is crushed against my lips.
The grating sound of the trash bin grinding across the floor pierces through the fog encasing us both, and I open languorous eyes to see [Caden's girlfriend] Sadie, her body shaking with rage.
“What the fuck is going on?”
Your romance is beautiful. Earth-shattering. Never mind how it got there. Your love is overwhelming to the point that it compromises a crucial mission to save your people.
“Caden,” I begin.
“Mmm,” he says, trailing more kisses up my arm. But before I can continue, the sound of a door slamming jerks me into action. I shove Caden to one side and press my fingers urgently against his lips, my eyes wide. Someone is outside.
How could I have been so reckless?
Fuck you both.
Profile Image for Rose.
1,859 reviews1,048 followers
January 9, 2014
Initial reaction: Yeah, I have a few things to talk about later on when I'm feeling up to reflecting on this story. In sum, though? Probably one of the more mediocre sci-fi stories I've come across. The worldbuilding was sketchy, the characters were typical, the twists were manufactured and convenient, and the whole thing was a mess. Including the romance.

Full review:

Argh, this is the kind of review I don't want to write, but feel I have to. This particular genre's a part of my heart and head, and seeing it done in a way that's undermining its own potential just guts me. I don't mince words about that. This is my first read from Amalie Howard, and I can't say that my end impressions of this work are positive enough to want to pick up another book, at least from what the presentation gives here. I may try to see if something else gels with me, but I'm entirely underwhelmed, cheated, and disappointed by this read. I have a feeling multiple audiences, whether intended or beyond, are going to have trouble with this one based on presentation and false promise alone.

I'll first copy the blurb of this book for posterity, because I'm going to come back to it later and reference it for a number of reasons, including to debunk some significant contradictions between the blurb and the actual narrative.

Seventeen-year-old Riven is as tough as they come. 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?

First, I have to say the blurb for this is very enticing, and the one that made me readily request this as a galley. Wonderfully engaging and establishes the motivations, the character, conflict so clearly that I was ready to jump into this read feet first. And the cover - awesome. This actually had me excited that I'd get to read another YA work with a strong sci-fi leaning, blended with an element of romance, and basically pull me along in its measures from beginning to end.

However, this is almost false advertising. I want to say a good portion of it is false promise for structure and organization of the story as well as intrigue. It tells you almost the whole story in just the blurb alone, but some of the significant details here aren't revealed until a good portion into the story and you almost wonder why these details aren't brought in sooner.

Anyway, let's take it from the top.

I'll reveal one of my biases right off the bat: maybe I have high expectations for purported BAMF heroine characters dealing with robots (or are subsequently part/full robots themselves). I can think of a lot of strong female characters from cyberpunk anime series and even from Live Action sci-fi movies. Those ladies can kick butt and take names when they're called to the task. Granted, they may have their moments of weakness, they may have personality flaws, but they still know what they have to do and get it done. And they do it with setbacks put in front of them. Some are teens, some are adults. Age is just a number when you're dealing with a character that's called to the task of rising above their means to deal with extraordinary conflicts.

This said: Riven isn't just a weak character, but she one of the worst purported BAMF characters I've come across in a while.

I'm going to address the content of the first paragraph of the blurb first. The majority of this information is true - Riven's a person of high rank and status in her world of Neospes, and it's thrown into something of chaos with android wars and beings called "Vectors" - which are dead people with microbots inside them basically taking over the dead people and moving them around like zombies in ensuing battles. Riven's entrusted with the task of finding Caden (her "target" if you will) to bring him back to Neospes and complete his destiny on behalf of his very ill and long lost brother Cale.

Only, you don't get the latter information up front about why Caden is Riven's respective target. It takes a long, long time to get there.

The story starts off with Riven being on the run in the prologue of the work. It's decentt. Good ensuing action, evil robots - I approved for the most part. But then the first chapter came, and I felt like I was reading a much more mediocre story.

Riven may come from a world with an ensuing android war and be tough as nails and cold minded, but she's perfectly capable of having emotions about things - what with having strong sentiments about judging the teenagers she's around as she's hiding her identity inside a typical 21st century high school.

The teenagers from her world are supposed to be so much more mature than the one she travels to, but she comes across as no more than a whiny, prejudiced brat. She says they're spoiled beings compared to those in her world, and while that may be explained by the differential between their societies, it's hard to care for a character who's that narrow-minded. She even shames the first female character she sees (who just so happens to be her target's girlfriend - go figure.) The only other interaction with a female character I can think of that she's not related to in some way in this world, she ends up rescuing because the girl's drugged and about to be date raped. So...the story's not exactly establishing lingering interactions with female characters here on the part of Riven's measure.

To hammer home some insinuated misogyny, Riven makes this statement within the novel:

"People tend to feel sorry for me. Boys in particular."

Why would Riven say something like this if she's supposedly able to handle things herself? It's not so subtle shaming, on the level of vying for dependence and doubly shaming her own gender to boot. How is this relevant to the plot again? This is supposed to be about a general taking back her target in the midst of a robot war in her home realm. Get to the point.

As for Riven not having room to make mistakes? AHAHAHAHAHAHA! Oh dear. One of the unwritten rules about being a BAMF character is like the first rule of Fight Club, you don't talk about being a BAMF character. You *show* through the things you do (some might talk and do, and that's fine, as long as you're "doing").

Riven says she smart, but gets low test scores when she tries to mask herself as a student in an effort to follow Caden. Riven talks about all the things she shouldn't feel towards Caden, but feels them anyway. There's a bit of instalove on the part of Riven upon meeting Caden, even considering he has a girlfriend. She calls the girlfriend a bitch, and apparently, Caden also calls *his own girlfriend* the same.

Also, Riven does not have fighting stamina as much as she thinks/says she does. Even when we see her in the first chapter, as much as I could probably sympathize with her making the long, rough transition to Caden's world to retrieve him, I didn't know how to take the fact that she fainted within 3% of the novel starting, in a closet of all places. Maybe I could've been more forgiving of her first two times passing out - where she was at the school and what happened on her motorbike when Caden first meets and rescues her.

But then it just kept happening - she keeps getting knocked out, passed out, and pretty much proving herself to be the most mediocre assassin/officer if her performance in retrieving Caden is any indication.

Guys, if your story progression has a character passing out more times than MacGuyver getting hit in the head and suffering from amnesia, you might have a serious problem to contend with.

I make that reference because in the 80s-90s TV series MacGuyver, the titular character had a series of storylines where he would get hit in the head in an ensuing battle (because he's kind of a jack of all trades helping various parties and foiling malicious government schemes where he can) and not remember who he was. People criticized it because it was an overused plot device for conflict, even in the scheme of so many episodes. In the case of "The Almost Girl", the fainting was definitely overused. It did not help the character. It did not create suspension in the plot. It just came across as very ill conceived, repetitive, and cheap method for conflict.

I'll address the last two paragraphs of the blurb in bulk because it talks about the love story and the overarching conflict in this narrative. The high school portion of this story goes far longer than it probably should've with respect to establishing the backstory, and the worldbuilding for Riven's world seems like it was created as it went along, not shaped before or after the story was constructed. It is not as neatly focused as in the blurb. It was tedious to get through and find vital details.

Riven comes across her long lost sister, whom she thinks is a traitor, but her sister also thinks the same of Riven. They're both fighting over Caden's respective fate, get caught in the crossfire, and people (even major characters) start dying.

Caden does eventually end up going back to Neospes with Riven, but I have to say in the ensuing conflict, their love story lacks in both depth and chemistry. I honestly have no idea why Caden likes Riven, as many times as she brushes him off, hurts him at his core for emotion and affection, and throws out information that shocks the heck out of him ("You're a clone!" she says at one point. This turns out not to be true, but cloning has a big part in the story regardless and I'm not going to spoil it for brave souls attempting to read this.)

I honestly have no idea why Riven likes Caden, apart from that he reminds her of Cale, the prince from her realm - which at one point, she was in love with him. While the story has some moments of trying to build the technology of the Vectors and some cool aspects of Neospes for experimentation and functional life, those play less role in this than the unfolding dramas surrounding Riven's ultra powerful and corrupted family (mother, father, sister) and Cale (who turns out not being the person Riven says he is). It would be more substantial if the reveals weren't thrown like hot potatoes and coming out of nowhere for revelation. It felt cheap and underdeveloped. It's like you can tell the author's flying by the seat of her pants trying to develop all of these as she goes along, and it doesn't come together very well. Not in the least.

Even with a certain reveal that comes across about Riven, it felt more like a cliche rather than a substantial reveal about her person and function in this whole conflict. I couldn't get behind it because it was so typical. It's not surprising given her demeanor, and I've read stories that do a much better job of establishing the stakes and identities of their characters for a sci-fi conflict that spans with the political, social, and ethical games that this story tries to put across. Here, it all comes across as surface with no depth to it and terrible pseudoscience to boot. I shook my head in places at the explanations for function sometimes.

The ending of this novel really didn't do much to sweeten the deal it ended on, because it involves a departure, and leaves the measure more open that it should've been.

In the end, save your time. This is not one of the better YA sci-fi novels with romantic elements. It's messy, the conflicts are repetitive, characters underdeveloped, worldbuilding unnecessarily convoluted, and the pseudoscience of it all just makes it worse for wear. It had potential, it even had moments in the second half where I think the author finally found some ground to depict the world of Neospes for featuring the conflict with the Vectors, but sadly - it's only really a pale backdrop in comparison to other, more grounded works.

Overall score: 1/5 stars

Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher Angry Robot/Strange Chemistry.
Profile Image for Kathylill .
162 reviews174 followers
November 29, 2013
As with a lot of YA books lately this one fell flat for me even though cover and description sounded promising.

The book starts with River “escaping” her world on a secret mission by the Prince to find his long lost hidden away brother. The first pages had me right into the story, with a kick ass heroine; wow … I was really rubbing my hands in anticipation of the coming story.

The first thing that didn’t work for me was the High School setting. The High School drama, the teen angst, the slut shaming. Oi
Let me introduce to you Sadie, Caden’s girlfriend, cheerleader and professional B!TCH

… just in time to see a willowy blonde swing her arms around Caden from the back. Her demeanor is not friendly, nor is the acid warning look she launches in my direction … her designer white pants like a second skin and a pink shirt unbuttoned enough to show a lacy pink bra, leaving little to the imagination … her tone dripping venom ��� she’s pure venomous angst

”… and your girlfriend is a bitch”
A lough. “No, she is, but Sadie’s harmless.”

I don’t get it. Is this pissing contest really necessary?

Even though I understand that Riven was tutored to be a Legion soldier from the time she was born, she now is seventeen and a General (no less) and works for the Prince (!) of her world. Unbelievable much? Seemingly, there isn’t anyone more perfect, a better fighter, strategist or more intelligent than her. So why then is she continuously making stupid mistakes? Instead of finding her target by looking for him, she sleeps during class, doesn’t even recognize him, although they have classes together and it even goes so far that she faints from an “anaphylactic shock” (or something like it), and subsequently falls from her bike to be rescued by said wanted Prince. How convenient to wake up in his bed taking care of you, like a Prince in shining armor coming to your rescue. Caden on the other hand had no backbone at all. He calls his girlfriend a bitch, he instantly falls in love with Riven and he is just so unbelievable indulgent. Gah.

This was simply a boring read. One of the few things I really enjoyed was the fighting scenes and the action back on Neospes. But even this could not take away my disappointment with the rest. The plot twists were just plain predictable you could see it coming from a mile long. The romance was a bit too insta-gooey-love. No surprises there. A lot of the story is simply cliché: like the fact that a prince has to wear a cape. Please show me one Prince that still wears a cape! Just look at Prince Harry:

Thanks to Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this book.
Profile Image for Kristi Cook.
Author 5 books960 followers
April 17, 2014
WOW. Heart-pounding, edge-of-seat fabulous! Loved the world-building--very cinematic. A great intro to a new series. Looking forward to the sequel!
Profile Image for Kribu.
510 reviews52 followers
December 25, 2013
Before I say anything else, I should point out that this was an ARC that I read. It's possible that some of the awful mess that this book is will be improved on for the final version.

(I have my doubts; the e-book was well-formatted and it didn't feel like a first draft, I didn't spot any noteworthy typos or grammar issues, which are really the only things I'd expect that might still get polished away at this stage - all the problems I had with it were on much deeper level. The plot was full of holes. There was one inconsistency after another. The internal timeline, in particular, was an utter mess. But anyway: this was an ARC and I might be wrong.)

Also, this review will include spoilers as well as quotes from the book (again, this is an ARC, and normally I wouldn't quote from an advanced reader's copy / uncorrected proof, but without showing exactly what my issues with this book were, I don't think I can really explain my reason for the low rating.

I had high hopes for this book, from the moment I first saw the cover and blurb. The cover is gorgeous (and fits the book, other than the mess that is the writing, well, in its icy blue tones and a sense of danger). The blurb, although the bit about the boy made me wary, nevertheless seemed intriguing.


I don't even know where to begin.

Caden, the target and love interest? Riven, our protagonist, isn't supposed to be incredibly sympathetic or likeable to begin with, so when she's sitting in an American highschool, casually slut-shaming a girl just because she wears tight clothes and clings to a good-looking boy, before the girl has even done anything (and she never actually does, other than feel possessive about her boyfriend), I can ... well, I didn't like it, but I can deal with that.

Caden, on the other hand, isn't even supposed to be one of those cold, arrogant, sarcastic bad-boys with a temper. He's supposed to be a nice guy. I think, anyway. (He's mostly just bland and there.)

So when we get exchanges like this...

“Your girlfriend isn’t a bitch?”
A laugh. “No, she is, but Sadie’s harmless.”

... sorry, I won't be pre-disposed to like him very much. Especially when not much later he quite deliberately starts flirting with Riven, not sparing a second thought to his girlfriend of a year (we later find out he's just been going out with her because it was easy, or she was easy, or .. something; in any case he's been dating the girl for a year and has absolutely no qualms about getting hot and heavy with another girl in the boys' bathroom). And, you know, when the obligatory catfight over him happens, we get this: I touch the three claw marks on my face and grin. Caden stares at the ground, but I can see that the corner of his lips is twitching.

Oh yes. How amusing.

So, Caden is, yeah. Whatever. Not my type.

All things considered, this is a minor issue, though - it's not like slut-shaming or casually cheating on your girlfriend/boyfriend is either unrealistic or unusual in YA fiction, sadly.

There are bigger problems with the book. Did I mention the internal timeline is a mess? Yeah.

We get this exchange between Riven and Caden:

“I don’t remember much about when I was really little, but I do remember my mom taking me to this seaside village when I was eight years old.”

Followed by, about a paragraph later, this:

“No. She died.”
“When I was seven.”

Um. If Caden's mother took him to a seaside village when he was eight, she can't really have died when he was seven.

Also, it's established, several times over, that the prologue and the events in it - Riven defecting to Earth (well, to America) - take place three years earlier. She has had no contact with her homeworld since, including no contact with Cale, the Lord King of Neospes and her best friend, since she left.

So why are there bits like this: / ---/ he is very much alive, a secret that Cale only revealed to me a few months ago when he mysteriously became sick /---/? Three years is not "a few months"!

(Side note 1: Riven left Neospes three YEARS ago, when Cale became sick, )

(Side note 2: why is it, whenever there are other planets in fiction, that it's always one planet = one state with one ruler? Blegh.)

Right. Timeline issues.

Riven is seventeen. That's been established enough times that I think that's certain.

So, when I read this, describing her sudden reunion with her sister Shae...

I want to run to her so badly it hurts, but underneath it all her betrayal is as fresh as it was thirteen years before, and the pain just as sharp. She left me with no regrets and no explanations.

... I, naturally, assumed that Riven was, at the time her sister left, four years old. And I kept wondering about it, even with the oft-repeated claims of how in Neospes, children are basically taught to fight and kill before they can even walk etc, how or why Shae, her sister (her age isn't established but it appeared she was maybe 2-3 years older), would have been so bitter about four-year-old Riven not wanting to accompany her and how she "always knew" Riven was an ice-cold killer, and whatever.

Anyway. Then I got to this:

It’d been during a time when my whole family was still together – my father, my mother, Shae, and I – a time before betrayal and lies ripped us apart. At only six, and one of the youngest recruits, I’d been released from training early.

... Huh. If they were still all together as a family when Riven was six, how could Shae have left her thirteen years ago, if Riven is now seventeen? ~blinks~

Speaking of Shae and timelines... as I said above, I don't know for certain how much older she is, but no more than 2-3 years. Therefore it's a little bit hard for me to buy things like this, even with the child-warriors of Neospes: Before Shae defected, she’d been a master swordswoman. Though her personal preference was the crossbow, she’d been chosen to instruct others, myself included, in the intricacies of sword martial arts. ... yeah, she was at the most nine years old, and "a master swordswoman" and instructor?

Also, Caden - who is Riven's age - describes Shae as his "warden" and someone who had always instructed him in everything, fighting etc... ever since he was seven. So, yeah, his "warden" - on Earth, in the US - was a girl of nine or ten, who taught him to ballroom dance and swordfight, and so on. Yaaaaaay.

(I could have overlooked that - tried to buy into the differences in the systems of the two worlds and everything - if it hadn't been for everything else.)

(Also? I get these people have high-tech suits, but when Riven goes to get a made-personally-for-her combat suit, which she already had when Shae was still with her, meaning that she can't have been older than six or seven, and it fits her just perfectly at seventeen, with no mention at all of how these suits are so high-tech that they even stretch to whatever her current size... Yeaaaaaaah.)

Right. Those are the main problems I had with the timeline. Now to my problems with Riven!

Riven is seventeen. She's all kinds of awesome, apparently. She made General in her homeworld when she was all of fourteen - youngest General ever. She's brilliant (we're told that, many times), unbeatable fighter, her mind brighter than any Earth physicist, etc etc etc. Also, General. Did I mention that? That implies some kind of talent for, like, noticing things, and strategies, etc, yeah?



Unbeatable, awesome, brilliant fighting machine Riven is being followed by Vectors - soldiers made of reanimated corpses. They smell. We're told that they have a really strong smell of death and formaldehyde. Basically, you can tell whenever one of them is nearby.

I am so intent on getting into the tunnel that I don’t sense the attack until it is too late, as something large and heavy tackles me to the ground.

Uh huh.

Then Riven, with her brilliant mind, breaks into a random house for some clothes, walks into a small boy and pretends to be a friend of the boy's sister, just popping in.

“Sadie? Your sister is Sadie?” Josh frowns and nods as if I’ve asked the dumbest question.

Um. You just pretended you're best friends with Josh's sister, and now you're shocked to find out her name? Yeaaah, I think that qualifies as a slightly dumb question.

(Although in her brilliance she immediately deduces that Sadie-living-in-random-house is clearly the same Sadie who is Caden's slutty girlfriend. Because it's not like there are any other Sadies in the world, I guess.)

Later in the book, major strategy meeting where details for an attack/coup are being planned out:

As Sauer launches into an advanced schematic of the castle’s security, I find my gaze wandering again, this time around the room.

I’m bored by the sudden political turn of the conversation

Uh huh. Brilliant young General in action here, I see.

Later on, when she's facing Cale,

Some more of Riven's brilliance: she's already found out, some time before, that the person pretending to be her physics teacher is a Guardian (some kind of person making sure people don't just jump from one universe to another, etc) and is part of the entire plot and knows stuff etc. So when I got to his bit...

Why is my physics teacher from the Otherworld in Neospes? What is she doing here?

... uh. Yeah. Maybe because you already know she's a Guardian and not actually just your physics teacher??

Also, brilliant fighter-General Riven thinks nothing of getting half-naked and having a hot make-out session with Caden while in the middle of a very dangerous break-in, knowing full well they could be discovered (and killed) any moment. Yet it takes actually being nearly walked in on for them to stop what would otherwise probably have gone on into sex right there and then. (In all fairness, Riven even spares a thought on how she shouldn't be like slutty Sadie, but then Caden's shirt is off and he has a chiselled chest, so of course that is forgotten and I guess acting like slutty Sadie is okay then during a break-in because, well, chiselled chest.)


Anyway. A few other things that Made No Sense.

Water is a big deal in (on? I could never really tell if it's the name of the planet/world or just the state) Neospes. There's little of it around. It's precious.

Alcohol, however, is cheap and abundant.

*scratches head*

I know alcohol was more common for drinking than water in, say, old times, because it was safer to drink. Here, however, it's not about safety (Neospes is highly advanced, technologically, and seem to have no shortage of liquids-in-general, so water purification is not an issue) but just about the scarcity of water as a resource. So.. isn't alcohol made from water? :-|

Also, why is everyone in/on Neospes speaking American English? This is no "parallel universe" Earth - it appears to be its own civilisation, centuries more advanced than Earth, and yet they call themselves humans (and apparently are) and everyone speaks American English as their native tongue. (They also don't really seem to be aware that there is more to Earth than the US, but this is of course common enough in books.)

It was irritating.

Even things like some lizard-thingy, which, fair enough, Riven explains to Caden as "something similar to a komodo dragon" - I have no problems with her explaining it to him as something he'd be more familiar with - is then referred to, consistently, in Riven's own internal narrative as "a komodo". IT'S NOT A KOMODO DRAGON! Why does she not use its actual name in her own thoughts?!

... I could go on forever.

I can't remember when I've last read a book SO full of holes and contradictions and issues, really.

However, it wasn't all bad. If you're someone who can overlook plot holes and timeline issues and just plain stupidity and focus on the cool tech and rather well-written fight scenes and a totally predictable insta-love romance with a Hot Bland Boy (he has a chiselled chest! and eyes! I think green, although I've already forgotten, but he totally had eyes) and some actually not that badly done character growth for Riven, it could be a rather fun action/scifi/romance book.

One star for part one of the book (that's where I was so tempted to quit, more than once), three stars for part two, for a total of "it was OK" or two stars.

* ARC of this book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley. Thanks!
Profile Image for Nicky.
4,138 reviews1,006 followers
October 31, 2013
Received as an ARC from Netgalley. Like all Angry Robot/Strange Chemistry books, this is a compulsive read: I started it this afternoon and just finished it now. I think I'd have been more enthusiastic about it when I was younger, and I'm almost positive my sister would really enjoy it. Even now I found it interesting, and got swept up in the action.

Part of the problem for me is the very teenage focus on attraction and love, which is not something I'm particularly interested in. On the flip side of that, all Riven's issues about family ring clear no matter what, I think. And that's not the only aspect of the plot, of course: there's also the technological aspects, the half-glimpsed history of the world, which I enjoyed piecing together.

Some plot twists were fairly obvious to me from the beginning, and I was a little disappointed that a certain character turned out to be twisted all along: I prefer some ambiguity and would've liked to see Riven's reaction, faced with him and with everything she's done all along.

I'm interested to see how Riven's character develops, after the revelations of this book and the changes that've come up -- both in her society and for her personally.
Profile Image for Isa Lavinia.
596 reviews297 followers
January 1, 2015

ARC provided by Strange Chemistry through Netgalley

I hate writing bad reviews, so I'm going to try to keep this short...

The first problem with this book is the blurb. It promises a heroine who rose to the rank of Legion General and is the right hand of the Prince.
This is YA so, from this description, I was expecting a mature young woman - not a child.

This just isn't realistic - yes, child soldiers are an unfortunate reality in our very world, but this is absurd.

This is a child who claims to have "held a sword before the age of two". Before. The. Age. Of. Two. You know, when the more advanced babies (who don't have to be fed by hand) are drinking from sippy cups because they lack the hand-eye coordination and proper muscle control to drink from a normal glass without spilling everything on themselves. When some of them haven't even learned how to talk. When most of them are still in diapers.
This child was having actual sword fights?
Is this a joke?

You'd expect that, in a highly militaristic society, the great leaders would be hardened warriors who have seen many battles and possess the strategic know-how to win many more. Mature men and women, is what I'm saying.
But she's been Legion General for "the better part of a year" when she's "barely fourteen"?

You can't expect readers to sustain their disbelief for something this preposterous!

But moving on, at least we'll get to see awesome battles, and then Riven having to acclimate to modern day Earth with a soldier's mindset... in high school?

Yes. In high school.
This entire book reads like the dreaded high school AU every fandom produces.

Considering her young (way too young!) age, and her high rank, you'd expect Riven to be wise beyond her years. A master spy, someone practically emotionless, someone hardened into nothing but a weapon.

But not only does she spend the majority of the book fainting, getting caught off-guard, and just generally being inept, when she tries to blend into her high school setting, she draws attention to herself by dyeing her hair green and blue, is hostile to her fellow students, and rides in on a Ducati.

Truly, at this point, I'm going through fanfiction.net trying to figure out which fandom this work is ripping off, because this is the worst case of a self-insert Mary-Sue into a high-school AU since Ebony (aka Enoby) Dark'ness Dementia Raven Way.

Sprinkle some slut-shaming on top of this and what you have is a book by an author I do not intend to read again.
Profile Image for Siobhan Davis.
Author 109 books7,911 followers
March 5, 2016
The Almost Girl is a well-written sci-fi romance with interesting worldbuilding and a complex MC. I was gripped from the very start, and with the exception of a small section when the story moved to Neospes, it was fast paced and kept my attention.

The plot was action-packed and full of twists and turns. Though the revelation in relation to her identity wasn't a major shock, it was still a good twist.

Cade is, ah, swoon ..... a perfect book boyfriend! Smart, funny, sexy, protective and he deals with all the crap coming at him in a very calm, mature manner.

I wished we had more scenes with Cale. What we saw of him didn't endear me to him at all.

I loved all the sci-fi and technological aspects of this book and I thought the world building was detailed without bogging the reader down in unnecessary descriptive. I have read books with multiple realities/universes before and this one was still original and creative and unique in its own way.

The insta-love was a bit unbelievable at first, like it came out of nowhere, but I was able to overlook it as it developed perfectly and their chemistry was good. I will add, though, that there are certain things one needs to overlook in this book in order to fully enjoy it - one example that sticks out is the manner in which children are raised in Neospes and it's mentioned that she was engaging in sword fights at age 2. How would that even be physically possible? There were a few other little niggly things like that which are the reason this is a 4-star rather than 5-star review (and I dithered over the rating for a couple of days.) Anyway, I loved the book too much to let little issues like that dent my enjoyment.

I'm really excited to see where the story develops from here and I look forward to reading the next book in due course.
Profile Image for Rebekah.
739 reviews955 followers
July 23, 2015
I just couldn't get into to this book, the characters were over the top the drama was eye rolling I just couldn't finish it.

Nicole's Review: I started the book because my 14-year-old niece said it was really good. "My new favorite book," she said. So I was excited. And it was going well in the beginning. I was curious about what was going to happen, about the world, about the characters. But then I got about half way through... and couldn't read anymore. Here's why:

Howard tells us how brave and smart and talented and competent Riven is all the time. I mean, she's a frickin' general in her home world, right? She can beat up anyone and is the strongest, most feared, strategic fighter ever to come out of Neospes. Neospes, mind you, where everyone is trained to fight starting at the age of 2 (has Howard ever met a 2-year-old, btw?) and they learn warfare and combat and all manners of ways to kill people.

Profile Image for Susana.
987 reviews240 followers
March 12, 2014

Arc provided by Netgalley

DNF at 43%

I once read that when writing a less than positive review, one should always start by pointing out the positives of said story.
Okay the positive of this story is:

The synopsis

As you can see, and read, it seems amazing!

The problem?

Well, as it happens with the latest trend in YA books, a promising synopsis doesn't imply an amazing story. The imagination is there. But the outcome is nothing less than a mess of stereotypes come together in another mess of literary genres.

I can't say that I'm surprised that I wasn't able to finish this, because the beginning was terrible.
Excessively verbose, it never captivated me. The fact is, the characters are shallow, egocentric, vain, obnoxious and full of prejudices ( and as far as I can remember, the only female character that got away with prejudice was Elizabeth Bennett... something that Riven is not).

So, let's say you're from a different planet. And you have a mission. A very important mission...
Now as an accomplished General what do you do?
A) Study the habits and culture of the majority of the population, trying to pass yourself as a native while trying to accomplish your mission
B) Adopt an aggressive attitude. Refuse social interactions. Paint your hair green and blue, because obviously we are all Smurfs and there's nothing better than playing the "bad girl act" to get yourself ignored... by the rest of your peers in High School.

Riven, our fearless and aggressive main character went with alternative B.
Now, as someone who comes from a different Planet, that is going through a war, I was expecting someone less... stereotypically YA.
Unfortunately not. Riven was the complete YA package.

She plays the aloof and silent type. The bad girl "don't mess with me" scene..
But of course since she's in a YA book, clichés have to be used.
There's slut shamming in this book. "Girls will be girls", so of course the blond one will have to play the "B" role.
It's sad, that in a book that I thought would have some sort of YA female terminator character, I ended up with a character like Riven.
She's pathetic.

Her mission, Caden, the boy she was sent to capture, unfortunately isn't better...
When Riven calls his girlfriend a bitch, he agrees.
Great, isn't he?
Amazing... now that's what romantic memories are made of...
"Hey honey, remember those times in high school when I used to call you a bitch?? Ah, good days!"

The plot... well there were a LOT of convenient resolutions. In fact, the totality of what I read is a BIG, OUTSTANDING combination of good luck and plot holes.
This my friends, is what allows the development of something usually named "Mary Sues"...
Mary Sue is this common weed that develops itself on the rich soil of YA... ah, wastelands.

Riven is a Mary Sue.

Three years on earth (we are told of course, because otherwise it would just involve a lot of work) and she doesn't have a clue of basically... anything!
She doesn't know where her target is.
She doesn't know how to blend in the background... high school student with a Ducatti? Really?
She presents herself as Riven... because that's what we, normal boring people do. Can you imagine if her last name were SMITH?
The horror!

And she's a General. Taught from the moment she was born.
World building... well like I said, in her Planet there's a war going on, and AI (Artificial Intelligence) is no longer seen with good eyes.
~Terminator much~....

Also there's the mad scientist plot. The mad scientist, in case you are wondering, is Riven's father...
And so on, and on...
I'm probably forgetting something, but by now I just want to be done with this...

Oh, yes, the phrase that finally convinced me that I shouldn't bother with this anymore, was (Yes, This Is An Arc. So Maybe, it could have been removed. I honestly hope that it was):

She shoots me a look that would incinerate a building. “Well, you should stick to pants. Dresses don’t really suit dykes,” she says nastily.
I bite back a grin and shrug. “Takes one to know one. And I’d rather be a dyke any day than look like a frosted cupcake without any imagination.”
(The blond girl who is normally called by the B word talking with our intrepid General)

Honestly, i thought that this was the author's first work!
Turns out it isn't...Honestly *i don't compute*.
That's why this gets this rating, instead of a half/one star.
By now, the author should know better than to use this language.

Profile Image for Tanja (Tanychy).
588 reviews249 followers
January 6, 2014
Review also posted at Ja čitam, a ti?

Recently almost all dystopian novels that I've read had something in common. That is the reality of the story which at the same time thrills me because of all the ideas and scares the hell out of me because of the possibility of these ideas coming true. This one is no exception.

Parallel universes have been something that's been fairly popular nowadays and the story here is based on that. Parallel with out world is another world called Neospes, but that universe is way ahead of us when it comes to technology. Their is so advanced that androids are part of the human world and after the android war this universe is in troubles. The only way to save it to secure the monarchy and the only way to do it to go into our world and find Caden. That mission is one that Riven's assigned to and as the best fighter in her world she is not familiar with failure. For the first time she is thrown into unknown and she must fight something she is not familiar with.

The whole idea of a world where technology is so advanced fascinated me so much, the way the technology became a part of people and with everything going on today it's something that doesn't seem that unbelievable. Riven, our main character here is neatly characterized. She is trained fighter and with some other things about her it's so interesting to see how she adopts to our world and most of all to emotions. Not only those towards Caden, but other people as well. Then there is Caden, a boy that's easy to fall for. Basically this has got everything I could ask for.

Probably the only thing that I wished was more developed was the past of Neospes. I'm still really curious about it. Was it once as ours is now? I hope I'll find my answers in the next book.

Rating: 4.5 stars.
Profile Image for Colleen Houck.
Author 24 books8,942 followers
March 4, 2015
What a crazy ride! I loved the heroine of this book. She's so strong and powerful. Loved the concept of eversion and alternate worlds. So cool. Preordering the sequel today.
Profile Image for Nafiza.
Author 7 books1,199 followers
December 27, 2013
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.
Profile Image for Teresa Mary Rose.
1,122 reviews354 followers
July 19, 2014
More Reviews Here: Readers Live A Thousand Lives

This is a book that it is very hard for me to write a review for because I really loved it and I’m not quite sure how to put that love into words. This is a brilliantly crafted story with wonderful characters. The world building is awesome and in true nerd girl fashion I loved all the sci-fi elements.

Riven is an awesome awesome heroine! She is so strong and tough and determined. When we first meet her she is very cold and closed off. She is driven by her mission and that is it; no questions asked. It takes a lot to get through to her. However, over the course of the book she changes and she grows. I loved watching Riven grow into a strong heroine; one determined to do what is right and not just what she is told. Also, it’s nice to see a book where the heroine does most of the saving: KA POW!

Our other main character is Caden and guys I loved Caden! He pushes Riven to become the person he knows she truly is and he is patient and kind. He is very very easy to fall in love with. He is strong and tough, but still kind and sweet. He says the sweetest things and really has a way with words. I love how well he adapted to everything changing around him and that he didn’t let anything hold him back.

The world building in The Almost Girl is wonderful. We start off on Earth or the Otherworld as they call it, but we also get to see Neospes. Neospes is a scary place and Amalie depicts it well. She created a completely new world and I had no trouble visualizing it. The creatures that inhabit Neospes will give you shudders. It is so imaginative and just cool, to put it simply.

My favorite thing about the story though was all the twists and turns. There are so many twists along the way and I swear I didn’t see any of them coming. The book really keeps you on your toes. You never know who to trust because the second you trust someone, they stick a knife in your back. It’s crazy how many times I was left staring at the pages shocked.

The Almost Girl is a crazy ride and is the perfect read for sci-fi fans. The ending has me dying for more to the story! This is easily one of my favorite sci-fi reads and I highly recommend it.
Profile Image for Paula.
Author 1 book212 followers
February 4, 2014
NOT RECOMMENDED. It’s just so sloppily written - verb tenses in particular switch all over the place, from present to past and back again within sentences. Heavy reliance on past perfect contractions - I’d remembered and he’d fought and it’d been surprising. So awkward and difficult to sort those sentences out to figure out what exactly went on and in what order.

Sloppy contradictions:
“His voice is dead, just like the rest of him, but he understands exactly who she is. He’s half-alive, but still far from a mindless drone.”

Is he all dead, or half-alive? That’s on page 8.

Poor research:
“The bike lurches forward and careens across the two opposite lanes, my thighs burning from gripping the sides of the tank to steady it.”

The bike in question is a Ducati motorcycle, and you do not steady a motorcycle by gripping the gas tank with your thighs. On a Ducati you’d have to be sitting with your knees around your chin to even try.

Also the main character’s love interest is named Cale, and that just seems like a silly oversight, given the popularity of kale on menus and in supermarkets right now.
Profile Image for Navdha.
573 reviews79 followers
January 9, 2014
How do I put this gently? Riven, the female MC in this book, whose name actually means to tear apart, who is such a narcissist, who claims to be all deadly and powerful, is actually a vain, conceited bitch? Why do I say such a rude thing about a supposedly strong MC who has kickass fighting skills? Well, let’s backtrack a little.

The book is divided in two sections. One is setup in a high school (where all YA action happens, obviously) and the other in a planet (place?) called Neopses. Riven is a Legion Commander from her planet, a living prodigy, one to be the youngest commander at the age of 17, on a mission sent from the Prince himself (who is also her bff btw) to find the target and take him back to her planet. The target, as you would have mostly likely guessed (read in the blurb), is none other than our hero, Caden. Now before I move ahead, let’s just talk about how dreamy our lover boy is, shall we? Caden is a guy who a) calls his own girlfriend a bitch, b) full on flirts and makes out with another girl when he’s in a relationship with the said bitch (But he makes out with our Riven! That makes it so much more romantic right? Right? ???? No.) and c) is such a horny teenager that he would rather jump Riven’s bones then actually focus on the task at hand or feel sorry about his losses.

But moving on, let’s focus on the plot holes from here on, hmm? So, Riven has been on Earth for about 3 years but only recently her body starts shutting down because of her over exerting herself or something. I mean her bff/Prince, Cale, whose father was killed by his own uncle has been sick all this time but just recently Riven’s urgency to find the target has grown to the point that she has an “allergic reaction” to our planet. Her body goes into shock, stops working while she’s riding a fucking Ducati (attention-seeking much?) so that she is conveniently saved by Caden; the same guy who is in her class but she failed to notice when she’s supposed to be all so vigilant. Shit starts happening after she has recovered and met her sister Shae. Her megalomaniac father sends his dead creations called Vectors to capture her from all across the Universe, but somehow (even though he’s supposed to be so brilliant) forgets to reset the Vectors coding to not follow Riven’s commands who was their commander 3 fucking years ago. Anyway, after some action and revelations, when they land on Neopses (don’t even get me started on how vague the world building for Neopses is) our ever so strong and lithe commander is yet again in need of saving. I guess Riven never heard of the saying that “Action speaks louder than words”.

So, as predicted there is this entire coup led by someone I hadn’t predicted coming into picture in the second half of the book. However, it is so hastily put together that I was skipping through most of it. A lot of it is talking since the scheming is already done. The action is limited to a few pages towards the end with a fizzled out ending that left me completely dissatisfied. But before I wrap up my review, there is another recurring issue that had me thoroughly exasperated: the incongruent timelines. In the beginning it was mentioned that Caden went to a beach trip with his mom when he was 8 years of age but then just in the next page it was mentioned that his mom died when he was only 7 years old. Another instance was where Caden mentioned that Shae had him join ballroom dance and was very strict with his routine sword fighting or whatever since a very young age, but how old was Shae really? If her lover as mentioned later in the book was only 20 years of age, then I can’t expect her to be older than that, right? If Caden has been doing this since he was 7 or 8 that means Shae had been with him all along. But Shae ran away from Neopses when she was what? Is it just me forgetting this detail or was it mentioned somewhere that I missed? Anyway, so if we suppose that Shae was 10 when Cade was 7, could someone explain to me how a 10 year old has this much authority or experience to train a kid? Does that mean that Shae had been everting all her life? Gah, this is sooo confusing.

Pheww. Well, I’m done. 2.5 stars rounded down to 2. Yee-haw!
Profile Image for Wendy.
598 reviews136 followers
December 9, 2013
Riven is a military general in command of technologically advanced undead soldiers called Vectors. When we first meet her, she has defected and is being hunted by her former charges before she “everts” to our planet to follow through on her mission: find a boy named Caden.

The prologue gives you a taste of what’s to come with a strong, resourceful and deadly main character and a lot of action, but once we hit earth, things stagger. First of all, there’s the problem of this crack soldier who fails to notice that her target is actually in the science class she’s been attending for some time. Fortunately, she has an accident that leads her to his doorstep. From there, there are some interludes where more time is spent is inexplicably spent in highschool, rather than Riven dealing with the delivery of her package. Then there is a lot of time spent running away from and/or fighting the Vectors that have been sent to retrieve him, with the help of several other people from her planet, including Riven's sister, Shae. While each encounter includes some very well-scripted fight sequences, the quantity of said encounters becomes tedious and the information that results from each one could have been delivered more quickly, rather than being dragged out through the first half of the book.

Fortunately, once the story gets to Riven’s planet of Neospes, things pick up significantly. The descriptions of the technology and the dystopian alternate sort of earth are great and I was intrigued by some of the politics, however, the pay off that we’ve been promised kind of fizzles out. Still, on Neospes, we meet a lot of potentially interesting characters and the intricate political plots involving Caden, his ruthless father and his brother Cale whom Riven is trying to save, and Riven’s father, the heartless creator of the Vectors.

Riven is a hard and fast soldier, intent on her mission, but Caden brings out another side of her that she doesn’t quite know how to deal with. Riven’s character growth, from a truly unlikeable character to, well, an almost girl, is very well done. Because of her involvement with Cale, it’s not surprising that she falls for Caden’s tenderness, skill and his handsome face. Unfortunately, there’s very little to make Caden likable, or to explain why he’s interested in her, or ultimately, why he actually would be worthy of the role Riven expects of him.

See more reviews at The BiblioSanctum
1,148 reviews25 followers
April 16, 2014
Sensational sci-fi that’s refreshingly original and an extraordinarily innovative edition to the Young Adult genre

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Amalie Howard’s dazzling book is a scintillating story of breathtaking imaginative vision, scope and substance that doesn’t disappoint. The striking, eye-catching cover pulls you into a magnetic tale wrought with remarkable concepts and fresh vivacity. With a gutsy, spunky female protagonist and cast of colourful characters the confidently assured narrative exudes authenticity that’s designed to captivate the target readership. Enthused teens will be clamouring to pluck this exciting story from the bookshelf; compulsively drawn to the storyline of great premise. Fabulously fun, action-paced and fast-paced I was taken on an intense rollercoaster ride and into a sweeping saga of depth and ingenuity.

By blending together an eclectic mix of genre {from futuristic to Dystopia} ‘The Almost Girl’ is an explosive fusion of diversity that appeals to a wide readership. Equally fans of Divergent and Enders Game will be enamoured by the intricately woven plot and sublime storytelling, that’s beguiling and utterly addictive. Amid the chilling tension and suspense is heartrending romance and profoundly evocative family drama, which touches you with truism and sincerity. 17 year old Riven has to be one of my favourite YA heroines; she is instantly likable and her fierce determination is inspiring to behold! Within the brilliantly crafted world is a smart, clever tale of out-of-this-world magnificence.

The first instalment in what I confidently predict to be an outstanding series, takes you on an adventure into a parallel universe full of deadly danger, magic and mystery. Neospes is a well-crafted and brilliantly realised world, founded on strength and a will to dominate over all. The hypnotic connection between Riven and Caden is so endearing and an element within the saga that adds a touch of enchantment within an intently uncertain backdrop. I was ever so impressed by such an ambitious adventure that kept me glued with pent-up animation to the pages!

I would like to thank Strange Chemistry/ angry robot publishers for providing me with a physical copy to read & write a non-biased, honest review on.
Profile Image for Courtney.
1,556 reviews180 followers
March 8, 2016
3.5 Stars

This is the first book I have ever read by Amelia Howard. I read some of the reviews before digging into this book (something I normally don't do) since I had never heard of the author before and wanted to get an idea what I was getting into. I realized that this book was being re-published so I pretty much felt that any reviews before the new published date may not truly reflect the ARC that I was given in exchange for an honest review. With that being said - on to my review.

The blurb of The Almost Girl is what truly pulled me in after seeing the cover. The cover is very fitting for this story and I applaud both the author and the cover designer because they nailed that.

The plot is unique and very interesting. One thing I liked was that I was able to get a really clear picture of Neospes and that entire world - their inhabitants and how that world evolved and worked. The characters in this book were a bit harder for me to connect to. However, to me that didn't hinder the story line. If anything - it sort of went along with the characteristics of some. Without giving to much away - Riven's world is nothing like Earth.

I really enjoyed this story. I was pulled into the Riven's world and their ins and outs of everything. It's interesting to see the differences between Earth and Neospes and how people are treated and regarded. Riven has to figure out how to blend in with teenagers on Earth. Even though she herself is the same age as them, her upbringing in Neospes forced her to grow up quicker and act more like an adult at an incredibly young age.

I believe that the writer did a good job of trying to keep the characters true to themselves and their characteristics. It's not easy to write how a teenager should act like an adult because of how she was raised yet blend in with kids her age whom she's never been around before. But Amelia did a great job of balancing it out. My biggest gripe and why I couldn't give this book 4 stars is the ending - it was very no-climatic for me. There was a huge buildup for a war and then aside from the fight between two characters, it just felt like someone deflated the whole thing. But I am still interested to see what happens next.

All in all, I really enjoyed the world that Amelia created and the characters. I am looking forward to reading her next installment in this series.

Profile Image for Thibaut Nicodème.
575 reviews133 followers
March 29, 2016
DNF at 10%. You can find my detailed analysis on my blog, the Snark Theater (part 1part 2)

It's kind of impressive the ways some authors find to fuck up a female protagonist so deeply and so fast. You'd think have a protagonist who's also female wouldn't be so hard.

But no, Riven is a military leader and a genius, except she has no understanding of strategy—she doesn't even have a cover set up after three years of back and forth between her world and ours. Plus, her entire quest is to find a guy, because heaven forbid a female character be the actual focus of the plot and have agency at the same time! Well, don't worry, in this case, she has neither, because she doesn't even find her target—he finds her instead.

Let's just say this is abysmal and leave it at that. Or I'll have to rant about how artificial intelligence isn't inherently evil, fuck you, book.
Profile Image for Milo.
753 reviews80 followers
January 9, 2014
The Review: http://thefoundingfields.com/2014/01/....

“The Almost Girl draws you in with its excellent cover and keeps you hooked right the way through. Fun, fast paced – it’s a young adult novel that manages to be original with a kickass female protagonist and a confident narrative. Recommended.” ~Bane of Kings, The Founding Fields

"Seventeen-year-old Riven comes from a world ravaged by a devastating android war, a parallel world to Earth.

A Legion General, she is the right hand of the young Prince of Neospes. 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 and in a race against time to bring Caden home, Riven has to learn how to be a girl in a realm that is the opposite of what she knows.

Will Riven be able to find the strength to defy her very nature? Or will she become the monstrous soldier she was destined to be?

The second novel that I’m reviewing of the year is another Strange Chemistry book that I finished at the end of last year, and it’s another strong read from the Angry Robot Young Adult imprint. I mentioned in my review of Shadowplay that I haven’t read a book that I’ve disliked from the publisher yet and that trend is continuing through The Almost Girl, a book that won me over based on its cover alone. Just look at how awesome that cover is. It draws you in, and once you start reading, you’re hooked. It’s unputdownable, fast paced and lots of fun. The characters are fun and engaging and the plot is mostly original as well, even if there are a few cliched elements thrown in there which could have been avoided (I’ll touch more on this later). The Almost Girl is a fun book that does suffer from a few problems, but still manages to be a pretty solid read.

The book itself combines bits and peices from a lot of different genres. It’s a part science fiction thriller, part romance (but then, which young adult novel doesn’t have some form of romance in it these days?), and also throws in the involvement of some conspiracy theories in there as well. It deals with a lot of stuff and covers more plot ground than most other young adult books do in in two or more books – you’re certainly getting your money’s worth in terms of content, but despite this – you’ll tend to breeze through the whole book pretty quickly. Like Pantomime, Shift and other Strange Chemistry books, The Almost Girl has got the pace factor nailed down. It never stops being fast and there’s always something going on. However, whilst there may always be something going on, that doesn’t mean that it’s always good. Lots of young adult novels set on Earth tend to have some sort of high school involvement of some form and this book turns out to be no different, and frankly – this section just came across as cliched and one of the more dull parts in an otherwise exciting read. It’s not helped by some inconsistency when it comes to the main character, Riven – who is, like other popular young adult heroes before her, up to date with a lot of pop culture references – and we possibly get too many for one novel, which is a shame because it felt like it detracted from the plot a bit. However, saying that – I did like the reference to Stargate. But for someone familiar with most pop culture stuff be, well – more experienced with keeping her cover story? A part that frustrated me was the mention that where she came from her people had one name, rather than two. An inconsistency made even more glaring when the character is an experienced general – and I don’t know about you, but even at seventeen, Generals don’t tend to make that many basic mistakes.

The main character, Riven – heralds from world that runs parallel to Earth, only a lot worse off, ravaged by wars and authoritarian leadership. In short, it’s a nice place to live, and is bursting with enough depth that we could easily have had the whole novel set on the world without ever going to Earth at all. So Amalie Howard gets a point for that – giving some strong depth to a world without letting it dominate the flow of the storyline. Riven also seems to get stuff done pretty quickly too, at fourteen, she’s already a General and a gifted killer. When we meet her at seventeen, she’s spent three years on Earth already. Three years on the hunt for Caden, the Prince’s long lost brother in order to return the wayward relative, where his fate will most likely be death. Of course, to add some more tension into the book, Riven is not the only one hunting him for there are others after the boy as well.

Overall then, the book is fun and enjoyable despite its flaws. I couldn’t help but enjoy it and I think you will too, especially if you’re a a young adult or love books in that genre like myself, or are even both. Riven is a strong and confident character, and manages to be likable and rootable. The Almost Girl sees another good book from Strange Chemistry, and despite its problems it’s well worth a look.

VERDICT: 3.5/5

Profile Image for Kirsty-Marie Jones.
409 reviews45 followers
December 7, 2013
-Actual Rating: 3.5

Firstly, look at the pretty cover! Pretty and appropriate to the book. *clap*

What drew me to the book was the infinite possibilities of parallel universes, seriously, I love it. And with infinite possibilities brings so many different versions that is completely fascinating and for most of it The Almost Girl didn't fail. It was completely badass.

That said, I'm not going to beat around the bush. I did not like the first half of it, at all. It was repetitive, cold, a little annoying and it felt like we weren't really getting anywhere, just round and round in circles of fight, flight, fight, kill, distrust and just complications that, although realistic, became like I said, repetitive. Though, if you're looking very hard, some of those parts have key aspects to the future of one of the side plots.

The world building was good, like real good, albeit a bit sketchy and random in places for me, it had questions, but it also had the answers. Everything you need and could want to know about Neospes was there, as scary and intriguing as it was, the little hitch for me, was that it was predictable in the sense of an dystopian setting. The plot was touch and go, and in the end it lacked the strength of the set-up, I was expecting something really brilliant, and explosive, and while it still was pretty badass things seemed a little resolved too quickly, so much setup but without the ultimate pay off.

It took me a while, and I mean a while, almost half of it for me to actually warm up to it, mainly because it's narrated by our main character, Riven. She's harsh, cold, snappy and sarcastic, which wasn't used sparingly and she became completely unlikeable. But, I will say Rivens character growth was done really well, and by the end I could finally say I could respect her for who she was, and for what was done to her. She's still a ball of sharp angles that if thrown at you, will cut you, but she's a nice softer ball of sharp angles.

Caden however, I wanted to like him like I wanted to like the romance between him and Riven. I did, but Caden first kissed Riven while he was still going out with Sadie, so no matter what, bad move. He's a little cheesy too, which made it harder for me to take the romance seriously, and the fact that it was a whole lot of insta-lust on his side of things in the beginning, I just couldn't.

Slut shaming time! All right, in fairness, on the slut shaming scale, it was an S, barely there. But, your Honor said Sadie has been judged on her slutty ways and seedy ways. The evidence, you ask? There is no witnesses your Honor, to whether Said Sadie slept with Caden, or schemed over Riven. Or did anything else, for that matter. Like I said your Honor, it was barely there. Like the character, so I'd like said Sadie to be in more than two scenes of a 416 page book. Your verdict?

Not guilty.

The Almost Girl was an exciting imaginative parallel world, with a well thought out setup but lacked the explosive ending and shock factor I wanted.

~~A copy was provided by Strange Chemistry, via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.~

Review originally posted on Studio Reads

Profile Image for Jeann (Happy Indulgence) .
1,003 reviews3,324 followers
July 20, 2016
This review appears on Happy Indulgence. Check it out for more reviews!

With that awesome cover, a sci-fi story and a kick ass heroine, it was hard not to resist The Almost Girl. Sci-fi seems to be the next big thing on the YA front at the moment, and with words like “android war” and “parallel universe” I had to pick this one up.

If you want a strong heroine, Riven is as tough as they come as a Legion General, sent to Earth to retrieve her target. She has quick healing abilities, super awesome fighting skills, plus endless speed and stamina. Riven kicks major ass, and in this book, she showcases her skills from defeating fearsome Vector soldiers, reanimated corpses who are designed to be soldiers.

Of course things never run as smoothly as expected, as Riven runs into Shae, her sister who is protecting her target. With a complicated past and betrayal in the mix, the two have a lot to sort out the get Cale back to the planet Neospes. Riven also finds herself attracted to Caden, who looks exactly like her lord Cale, and insta-love happens and they are both suddenly in love with each other. I wasn’t really convinced of the romance, especially as Caden’s girlfriend is the blonde mean girl type and Riven is an ice queen with blue/green hair. The two pretty much fall for each other right away, and all of a sudden they are in love which annoying.

The character development also left a bit to be desired and I found myself confused some of the time. I was not sure why Caden was suddenly kicking ass with all these fighting skills that he learnt from Shae, and how easily he accepted Riven and Shae’s explanation from being from a parallel universe. His role further in the book is even more difficult to believe but somehow there was no difficulty accepting it. From the way Shae and Riven were hostile with each other, they were suddenly working together and it seemed like I had missed something again. Riven herself seemed inconsistent, on one hand she’s beating the Vectors but she literally faints 3 times in the book.

What kept me reading was the kickass action and the fast paced sci-fi plot, with the concept of Vectors who are basically reanimated humans being really fascinating and also how they ‘evert’ to another planet. There was also a lot of betrayal, backstabbing and complex family relations between Riven, her family, and even her lord Cale.

After being attacked on Earth and trying to escape from Vectors, the two “evert” to the other planet and the story begins from there. We are then brought to Neospes in the second half which is full of twists and turns. Some I found significant, and others seemed to be randomly thrown in, without any build up of them earlier in the text. I was surprised to find out what an asshole Cale turned out to be, after endless doting and loyalty from Riven.

Overall, The Almost Girl featured some awesome sci-fi world building and kick ass action scenes with a strong heroine, but there were a few things that were left to be desired.

I received a copy of The Almost Girl from Netgalley and Strange Chemistry in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Jilly.
1,838 reviews6,126 followers
May 10, 2017
I gave the last three books I read 5 stars, so I guess my luck was bound to run out. Or, maybe the good writing gave me high expectations that could not possibly be met by normal books. Maybe my standards just became impossibly high. Let's see if I'm wrong here, shall we?

First of all, we have our main character, Riven.

Her name was supposed to be Raven, but they recorded it wrong so she was stuck with this name. Even though her family was extremely wealthy and powerful in her world, her best friend was a prince, and she was a prodigy - nope, clerical error - you will forever have the name that someone accidentally gave you.

She became a general in the army at the age of 14 and was "feared by men". And yet, Riven is the biggest damsel-in-distress I have ever met. She has fainted and blacked out in this books more times than a 19th century socialite with the vapors. But, luckily, her "target", the guy she is kidnapping, has a crush on her and keeps rescuing her. He revives her several times, nurses her back to health when she is sick, and saves her life when her "superior fighting skills" get her ass kicked. She is an "agent of death in a girl's body"... yeah right. They could dress up my dog in a general's costume and it would be more believable.... hey, I like that idea. Note to self: buy general's costume for dog on amazon later... that would be so cute! But, I digress.

She's gullible and stupid. To be a general, wouldn't she need the ability to see through people's obvious lies and manipulations? This girl gets manipulated more than playdough. She is an easy mark. She doesn't even see through the obvious people who are helping Caden. I saw through them within the first couple of sentences of their characters being introduced. No wonder it has taken her three years to find him. And, oh yeah, she didn't find him. He found her - rescued her. Nice work, General Genius.

Next comes Caden, the leading male. He is a real great guy. He has a girlfriend that he calls a bitch. She is your typical catty bitch-girl that is written in too many books as the slut-shamed bad girl who deserves to lose her man. So, why did this great and awesome guy go out with her for the last year? "Because it was easy". Nice. But, he sees the error of his ways now. He tells Riven that she is "not like any of the girls he knows". Oh, you mean, like, "you understand me, baby, you're not like my wife, she's a bitch and doesn't treat me right..." I see a bright future for Caden and Riven - until he meets a girl who is not like her a year later.

As for the story - it's a freaking mess. Parallel worlds with zombie armies. But, wait, there are Guardians who are supposed to be watching out for problems who suck at their jobs, and there is a group over them called the Faction that is supposed to be ruling over all of the parallel worlds who suck at their job. (Why else would their be so many inconsistencies?) So, let's put the fate of two worlds on the back of a 17 yr old girl who may or may not be a very poor excuse for an "agent of death". Great idea. If this is the best that the world of Neospes has to offer, I would say that we, the people of Earth, are pretty safe from those morons.
Profile Image for Braiden.
359 reviews204 followers
January 1, 2014
There’s nothing more satisfying than starting the new year with a review that is not positive. Because yet again I show my honesty, and you read Book Probe for the honest reviews. I mean, what else are you here for than not for the negative to mixed reviews?

The Almost Girl seemed like the perfect read to kick 2014 off with (though I did read at end of 2013)—sci-fi, intergalactic world, Strange Chemisty/Angry Robot, great cover. Those are four features I like. And I foolishly believed that that combination was going to be lethal and satisfying and worthy of remembrance. Yet The Almost Girl wasn’t. The novel read like a first draft, it fell into tropes, and was completely and utterly boring, devoid of any actual substance, amusement and unconventionality.

Riven is from another “world” (and we know that because there continually is, “In my world…” at the beginning of every paragraph. I found that to be a pretty pathetic device of world-building, yet we don’t actually learn what world, or rather planet, she came from until further into the book). In her world she is the… let’s just say, the creme de la creme, the best of everything. Riven gets commanded by the prince of Neospen, Cale, to retrieve an item—that being Caden—from Earth, a planet (ours, obviously) in another “world” that Caden was deposited and secretly under protection by Guardians, and surprisingly, Riven’s sister. As she does Riven discovers a lot about herself, her family, and who Caden really is.

As I said previously, The Almost Girl reads like a first draft. There was no real substance to the story, to the world, and the characters. This is mostly in part due to the constant dropping of information as the novel progressed (In my world…), which seemed as though Howard created the world and characters as she was writing (In my world…), as if Howard decided to implement past events or needed information as they popped into her head. This made the novel inconsistent yet monotonous.

Read the rest of this review at Book Probe Reviews.
Profile Image for Leigh.
263 reviews18 followers
October 8, 2014
ARC provided via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

One look at this cover and I knew I had to read this book to find out if the main character was as fierce as she looked. The Almost Girl did not disappoint. It was this SciFi lover's dream book full of fast-paced action, twists and turns that will keep you guessing, and one kick-ass heroine.

Riven has trained all her life to be the best. Now, at seventeen, she is at the top as Legion General of Neospes, a world coming back from a disastrous android war. Riven will need to use all her training and skills she has acquired to find the long-lost brother, Caden, of Prince Cale. This mission will take Riven to a new world, Earth, where she will have to find her target and bring him back safely. Will Riven be able to complete her mission? What new obstacles will she face?

What a fascinating world Amalie Howard has created! The characters are interesting and continue to evolve as the story unfolds. I enjoyed seeing Riven's character develop. She starts off as a strong solider with single minded purpose and morphs into a well rounded individual who has emotions but is able to put them aside to complete the mission. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys an action packed story that you don't want to put down.

Profile Image for Miranda.
512 reviews118 followers
November 6, 2013
This is a DNF review. Pages read: 73/289

I tried to be into it, I did. And admittedly, it started off strong and the beginnings of the world building were good. But then Riven and the narration of the book shame Caden's girlfriend as being slutty and a "bitch," and--I don't know. It kind of just ruined the entire thing for me, because seriously, you can create a world where there's virtually no sexual assault and where women can hold positions of power and command with no problem, but it's apparently still acceptable to slut shame other girls and call them bitches?

On top of that, I found my interest slowly fading. There wasn't really anything that made me want to pick the book back up after I'd put it down. I eventually decided to put it aside. I wish it had worked for me, but sometimes these things just happen.

I received my copy via NetGalley.
Profile Image for Kerri (Book Hoarder).
495 reviews46 followers
March 1, 2014
I'm actually a bit torn on this book, mostly because there are elements of it that I loved, and others that made me want to scream in frustration.

Riven is only fourteen years old when she goes to a world incredibly different from her own, sent there to bring home the twin brother of Prince Cale, one of her closest friends and her commander.

Riven comes from a world that has been torn apart by an android war, a world where creatures call Vectors are commonplace - corpses reanimated to be soldiers. It's a dark world in comparison to Earth, so will Riven be able to find her way and complete her mission?

Sounds pretty cool, right? A young girl, trained to be a fighter, hopping universes to bring someone back, fighting the undead and triumphing over everything! I mean come on, I love Buffy the Vampire Slayer, was I really going to turn down a book like this? We need more books with fearless girls as confident and competent assassins, because the idea is pretty freaking cool.

What I actually got in the book was a bit more fuzzy, though.

First of all, I liked Riven. I wanted to like her more than I did, but I liked her. She's torn by duty and familial ties, and she doesn't like it when emotions get in the way - okay, something that I can understand, when she's been raised as a soldier. She prides herself in being the best, in not letting anything cloud her judgement, and completing her mission is paramount above everything else. She's gone through a lot in life - she's not particularly close to her father, he just sees her as a tool. Her mother is dead and her relationship with her sister is strained.

All of this makes for a compelling character - I could see where she was coming from, in a lot of her struggles. They made sense to me.

I loved the world, too - it was fascinating in a lot of ways. World torn about by android wars? Hell yes. A world that's drastically different from ours? Hell yes. Reanimated zombie people working as soldiers? Another hell yes. There's a lot to be said for the world that Howard has built and that was, in part, what kept me reading - I was curious, and I was fascinated.

It was just that everything moved far too fast, as is common in so many books, now. I don't know how much time went by in this book, but it wasn't all that long - yet Riven goes through changes of heart that are extreme, her emotions all over the place. Standard teenage fare, admittedly - except she's been trained as a hardened soldier! I expect some inner drama and questioning, yes, but not to the extent that I read in the book.

I'm not sure whether or not the author took the time to think about just how fast a person actually changes their mind when they've been trained all their lives. Admittedly it's not an easy topic for a civilian to identify with - most of us have no idea what a soldier goes through, both mentally and physically. I think that writers need to research thoroughly and really think about how quickly someone indoctrinated with a certain point of view can change their mind, though. If you're writing a character fighting hard against certain emotions and feelings, chances are they're going to win out most of the time, certainly longer than just a few days!

This leads into the relationship with Caden, which, while well written in some ways, was a disappointment in a lot of others.

The advice I seem to repeat over and over again for authors is always the same: SLOW DOWN!!!

It's okay, really. It's OKAY to let relationships develop slowly. Is it that authors are worried that the romance fans won't stick it out, maybe? It's a stupid reason, but I'd rather think that than think that authors actually think that people can learn to ~love~ someone else in the span of just a few days...

Caden was sweet, and gorgeous, of course. Thinking back on it now, though, I'm struggling to put much personality on him. Riven thinks of him in relationship to Cale a lot, and how he's different from Cale. So he's the antithesis of this boy that she knew (who we don't actually know that much about), but we don't learn that much about HIM, either, except that he's smart, a good fighter, and loyal to her (though I'm not quite sure why).

Which is actually a bit of a sidetrack from what I was going to say, which is that Riven and Caden's relationship develops far, far too fast. I'll give Howard credit for writing things well in terms of describing the feelings - no 'omg he's so hot' sort of insta-love. In spite of that, though, the depth just isn't there. Yes, he apparently ~sees her for her~ (apparently on instinct, since any logical boy WOULD NOT trust her), but other than the tension that sparks between them and his apparent determination to see the best in her, I don't know what's drawing them together.

It's a pity, because I don't dislike the pairing - Caden's sweet, and I think he'd be good for Riven. I still need a reason for her to fall for him that's not 'he's like Cale and he likes me' and I need a reason for him to like her that isn't 'she's hot and for some reason I trust her'.

I did like a lot of the secondary characters, though. Nobody is quite the way Riven likes to label them, especially those closest to her - and there are surprises and twists and turns throughout the book, enough to keep me turning the page even though I sometimes wanted to pitch it across the room. (The point where Caden and Riven stop to make out while on a mission in her father's house? THAT WOULD BE ONE OF THEM.)

The Vectors are creepy, and Riven's struggle with her own background is touching, as well. It's a bit too obvious from the title, imo, but I think it'll be interesting to see how it develops in the next book.

Ah yes, the next book... I'm assuming that there'll be one. Would I give it a try? Probably, in spite of all the things I've picked apart here. The writing is engaging enough, and I have hope that Howard will work on the flaws that are mentioned in various reviews of this book.

Disclosure: I received a copy through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
122 reviews4 followers
May 6, 2018
I found this Gem at my e-book library. Wasn't going to leave a review until I came to GR's to list it as haven read it and noticed most of the reviews were not very good...sooo. I really, really enjoyed this book...lots of action, a little lovely love- story, bad-ass story building. This book has everything from future dystopian, to back in time to our world, to nanobits in the DNA. A couple of sisters who are bad-ass ninja sword fighters. Not to mention families that are torn apart! Kept me reading from the beginning!
I realize when I really enjoy a book, instead of staying up & reading til the end, I find myself, stopping and putting the ending off as long as I can, so I don't reach the end...crazy, right? Well now I have this problem, my library does not have book 2; but I found it on Amazon ( and I might add, a lot better reviews for bk 2 on here), but I do not pay $10.00 for any e-book. So guess I will have enjoyed this book as a single enjoyment!

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