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#TheAlmostGirl by @AmalieHoward {Sci-Fi Young-Adult Review}

Riven – to rend or tear apart, cleave or split asunder

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The difference between a good book and a great book can be sometimes be as small as the choice of a name. There are several such things within the pages of The Almost Girl, but the our strong independent leading lady Riven is named with such a power name which can be applied to many obvious things plus symbolically and metaphorically. I balked when the character stated her name was ugly because all I saw was strength , beauty and meaning. But there is more than just a name between these pages. And more than just one character.

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#TheAlmostGirl by @AmalieHoward {Sci-Fi Young-Adult Review}The Almost Girl
by Amalie Howard
four-half-stars
Pages: 416
Published by Strange Chemistry
on January 7, 2014
Genres: Dystopia, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Amazon • Barnes & Noble • Book Depository • • Goodreads •

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?

I received this book from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Almost Girl is another amazing example of a young-adult book written for teens who are growing up in this day and age. So many times teens like our protagonist Riven, are forced to deal with grownup situations when there is no way they can. How can you expect a child to handle these situations? In the book Riven is trained as a soldier since the age of 4, as many of the children are. It is a dystopic world. What is wonderful is Amalie was able to not only create a flowing story showing all of this but also kept an action packed sci-fi book moving at … warp speed *wink* 

Young Adult books are hard enough to write without adding in the conventions of science fiction. Amalie Howard does just this with ease. I read a few reviews after finishing and saw a lot of readers having issues with feeling lost because things were not explained enough. Truthfully I believe this is because most people who read young adult books as a favored category are not sci fi readers in general. No offense to young adult readers, but this girl is a nerd at heart and has been reading sci-fi since I was child. Most sci-fi writers don’t info-dump data and so these readers don’t realize we (as in “us sci fi readers”) don’t need the tech explained because it is part of the set conventions, the world builds and fringe science. So she gets a pass from me because it was top notch! (And she also does explain it enough IMNSHO)

Her other win is having a child who experiences so many things kids these days go through even if it is under the guise and behind the flare of sci-fi and dystopia. Young Adult books from even as soon as five years ago are behind the times when writing for kids these days. They face violence, sex, drugs and abuse more and more due to their exposure on the internet, social media and having constant detachment to real face to face contact with people. Check out a “family time moment” from a couple years ago with my three eldest kids. It is a perfect example of what I am talking about.

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Left to Right 2009 – Middle daughter Jojo is on Facebook; she is bitching on speaker phone to her friend, White shirt is Nate (my eldest son) he has 2 cell phones & is coding a hack to run a second character in a game so he can also be two places at once and my daughter is coordinating a camping trip with a youth group while also trying to talk her girlfriend out of getting an [redacted]. … life is not simple like it was in the 80’s. All I had to worry about was if the concert was reserved or festival seating and if my feather was parted high enough and the blue and pink eye shadowed sparkled at the right depth…

(BTW I want to state for the record again I consider young adult reads to be 12-18 year-olds, not middle school, not out of high school… brains are not finished cooking, reasoning not all there due to hormones-a-plenty and not measuring out rhyme or reason etc etc etc…)

When I read the prologue I had to just squirm in absolute literary delight! It is gorgeous. I knew I found another favorite author. What a beautiful way to hook me into the story.

“The slight figure is lithe and quick, a shadow of a shadow in the darkness. It runs along the edgy gloom of the halogen-lit streets, flying over electric fences and scaling walls with the practiced ease of a skilled athlete. One would never suspect that it was being chased by an entire army of soldiers, but it was, several hundred of them.” – Prologue, The Almost Girl

This is just the beginning. I love Sci-fi and combining it with the young adult this well written was the best way to spend my New Years Day! Riven can be used to talk about the whole book, not the name but the action. Being ripped away from a life you knew. Two worlds being ripped apart.. emotions ripping the world you know and how to behave… yep you get where I am going with this.

Caden, the male counter part is an above average teen. At first I think he is a jerk, but as the pages you discover who who he really is as he let’s Riven in. When I found out he fences and I went aha and also did a few “ooooooooooh…ahhhhhhhhh” fencing is nerdgasm hot! The slight naiveté is touching, but that is what annoyed me at the beginning. I wanted to smack him! Then I realized part of it was him playing the part, like many kids do to get through school. Never really fitting in but knowing if they don’t fake it, they may not make it. Riven has to fake it to find who she is looking for.  Hmmmmm interesting…

Like I said, these kids are not finished developing yet. They are still baking their brains and struggling to find their place in the world and yet in this story they have to make decisions which are literally can mean the difference about life and death. For regular high school kids who will read this book it may seem like decisions will mean the difference between life and death. At least there is someone that can help them in high school and in the book Ms. Taylor (Eva) is there and as it turns out… ohhh nope.. nope, nada.. *grin* go buy the book! We have an older sister, Shae who is someone I could write a whole post on alone and the long lost mother and the sociopath father and the asshat Cale… the characters are wonderful!

Am I going to recommend this book even if you are not into young adult books? Oh heck ya! Do you like a good sci-fi story with tons of awesome bad guys and cool tech and science? Do you want the possibility of some great ideas to throw into a spin off for that RPG you are running?  I totally recommend the book to anyone who loves a fast paced, hard impacting, social statement without it being preachy, with really cool characters who are well rounded. Some you will love to hate, love to love, want to see on the big screen and make Team Riven or Team Caden shirts over! Heck! I am all over the Team Riven shirts, I am even planning them! Gimme a call Amalie…

 

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2 Comments

  1. congrats to Amalie on the newest release!!! It looks and sounds awesome 🙂

  2. Gah, I missed this one. I like Amalie Howard, I read one of her books a couple years ago and just loved it. Adding to wishlist!

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