Friday, July 17, 2015
The Almost Girl by Amalie Howard
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.
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. So when she passes out in the first chapter and, like, five times afterward, and gets beat up and crashes her motorcycle and gets seriously injured and is rescued by the untrained love-interest at least ten times throughout the course of the half of the book that I read, I don't actually believe that Riven is smart or talented or competent or brave or any of that. It makes me think she's actually really bad at her job and only became general because her father is such a prominent figure in Neospes. And why would anyone appoint a 14-year-old general of an army? Ever? At all?
Ok, so we've established that while Howard tells us Riven is a uniquely amazing character, we actually find out that Riven sucks. Then there are the other characters. Most of whom die before we get halfway through the book, so they're probably not worth mentioning. The love interest, Caden, who is also Riven's target for reasons that still hadn't been revealed halfway through the book (which was annoying) but were generally made to sound bad for Caden, has a girlfriend when he meets Riven. And totally disses his own girlfriend and cheats on her with Riven. But we're not supposed to care about the questionable way in which this relationship began because Caden's girlfriend was your classic high school mean girl. So she's not worth caring about.
And I can't even figure out why Caden likes Riven at all. Not once is she nice to him. Ever. Riven gives him mean stares all the time and tells him how superior she is and that she doesn't want friends and doesn't like anyone. But Caden keeps trying to kiss her anyway. And when he succeeds it's this super-passionate moment when he has her trapped even though she told him flat-out that she wasn't interested and then she tried to beat him up. Unsuccessfully, because, you know, she's such a badass. So... Caden is pretty much the date-rapist type. That's what I got out of that.
I started out really curious about the world of Neospes. There's some vague Terminator-type of mechanical war that turned machines against humans and there was some kind of crazy warfare that causes Neospes to live in a bubble and the air is bad and water is scarce and there are crazy animals that are half-machine and they make themselves that way... but nothing was explained. This far into a book something should have been explained. I was getting tired of waiting for the reveals that should have come a little sooner. And been more interesting than the few reveals I did get to. And the twists felt contrived. The emotions were way too drama-y. And stupid. And I think you should just skip this book altogether.
But maybe you'll be like my 14-year-old niece who loved it. Who knows.
Sexual Content: Moderate
Drugs/Alcohol: Mild, if any