Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Dystopian
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Publication Date: January 7 2012
Source: Physical ARC Provided by Publisher
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?
“The Almost Girl” is a richly imagined story of defiance, courage, and heart. It is the tale of a girl who finds her own way on her own terms, a girl who won’t let what she is define her, and a girl who will sacrifice everything she is for the ones she loves. It is a story of someone who eclipses her predestined fate to become something more … something extraordinary.
With the heir of the throne sick, General Riven goes on a mission to Otherworld, our world, in search of the target of the mission given to her. Coming from a world different to ours, she had to travel to a bridge between two parallel universes to Earth. In a place so different to what she knows, it’s nearly impossible to complete her task. That is, until it comes crashing towards her. Torn between her duty as a soldier and the emotions she tries to hide under a threatening facade, she has to choose between being the monster everyone thinks she is, or find a way to do what is right even as it goes against everything she’s come to know.
What made me like this book the most was the sci-fi aspect in it. We are shown this parallel universe, Neospes, that was almost destroyed by androids through a war years ago, with small population, extreme conditions, and almost nonexising resources we take for granted every day. Amalie Howard knew how to describe this place in such great detail that it came naturally to be in my head. It was easy to grasp and imagine as being a big contrast to our world.
Another aspect of the story that amazed me was the science in the book. Granted, I am not a bio-engineer nor an expert in robotics. But whatever was written her, it seemed truthfully enough for me as a reader to understand and be amazed by it.
For example, we have the Vectors. My first thoughts were of Math. I don’t know if in English is the same, but in Spanish that’s a term for some Calculus stuff my sister does for her College classes; headache inducing stuff for me. Here they are animated corpses with nanobots in their bloodstream controlled by a program that gives the orders. They don’t feel, think, talk, eat, or need potty breaks. They are deadly robotic zombie soldiers breed to supplement human genetics, to protect and defend those who survived. Made to hunt and kill by a madman. Awesome right?
The plot didn’t fail to amaze me as things unfolded carefully on their own. One moment it could be boring as heck with information about Neospes or what Riven was supposed to do, but all in its proper timing. Because surely enough something nasty was on its way that managed to keep me gripping the book in anticipation. Now that I think of it,whenever I stopped reading the book and put it down, it was usually after a big action scene happened. There was no way I could pause it before without knowing what was going to happen and why. The narrative might have been a bit slow here and there, but it served well to keep things in balance. Not everything is action and romance in life, and this is not exception.
The romance was good. This wasn’t a romance book, and it wasn’t an aspect where the story was centered. It was there, but it didn’t resolve on it while the rest of the world tumbled to the ground; that’s where Riven comes in.
She was the kind of heroine I like in these type of books. She’s a soldier and has her mind set up in her priorities. She wasn’t whinny, needy, clingy, or girly at all. She’s basically the definition of tomboy (I think she even says it). And that’s what I needed here. A strong minded, even cold hearted at times, heroine. As the story goes on she becomes vulnerable at some small points, which is good! We see she’s not a complete machine and that she can be reckless at times. It makes her look human with faults and virtues, and that’s what this book needed as a heroine.
Great plot with surprising twists, likable characters hard to forget, despicable villains, steamy and cute and funny romance from time to time, I found this book to be greatly balanced in the sci-fi and realistic feel the description promised. Not as I expected, since I was initially not with high hopes in the case that I didn’t like it, but still an enjoyable read for those looking for fantasy and futuristic science out of this world (technically, it is in the story :P)
Rating: 4 stars.
P.S. Many thanks to Strange Chemistry for providing the Physical ARC. I loved it <3 It was almost like a birthday gift, since the book came out on my birthday (January 7) 😀 lol
Praise for Amalie Howard’s “The Almost Girl”
“A riveting union of science fiction thriller, romance, family drama, and conspiracy theory, The Almost Girl had me wishing I could crawl inside the pages and join Riven on her epic journey between parallel worlds. Amalie Howard¹s writing is sharp and smart. I¹m definitely craving the next installment!”
– Page Morgan, author of The Beautiful and The Cursed
“Amalie Howard writes a fast paced and thrilling story with a kick butt, authentic heroine and a brilliantly crafted world.”
– Eve Silver, author of Rush
“The Almost Girl is a feminist tour de force. It is filled with powerful, interesting female characters. Riven is one of my favorite fictional characters ever; she is fierce, passionate, funny and smart. This sexy, fast-paced story is impossible to put down. A must read! Fans of Divergent will love it!”
– Kim Purcell, author of Trafficked
Guest Post: Q&A With Author Amalie Howard!
You released your first book “Bloodspell” in 2011, which led to an impressive five book publishing deals. How the heck do you have time to write so much, and what does it feel like to have your work recognized in such a great way?
I am so incredibly grateful that my wonderful editors saw something they loved in my books and wanted to publish them. All three of my upcoming novels—WATERFELL, THE ALMOST GIRL, and ALPHA GODDESS—each brings something different and unique to the table, so I’m really excited that readers will get to sample such a diverse range of what I have to offer as an author.
As far as writing so much, I’m very lucky that I’m a fast writer, so once I get an idea in my head, I just go. I plot a basic outline of my expectations, and then I let the story take me on its journey. And as I always say to my teen creative writing classes, writing is like homework. You have to make time for it and be diligent about doing it.
What will fans of “Bloodspell” like best about your upcoming titles?
Fans of BLOODSPELL will enjoy meeting some very special new characters and being introduced to completely different worlds—figuratively and literally, especially in THE ALMOST GIRL. In WATERFELL, I was particularly excited to share my love of the ocean (I grew up on an island) and surfing! I also wanted to explore the myth of the sea monster and shift it from something terrifying into something beautiful … enter the mysterious world of the Aquarathi!
I’ve always been fascinated by quantum mechanics (even though I was hopeless at physics in high school) and the possibility of alternate universes. In THE ALMOST GIRL, I was able to explore that and more in this book, like the whole concept of nature versus nurture and whether we evolve differently based on harsher environments. I think this book will take readers on an interesting journey.
In ALPHA GODDESS, I wanted to explore some of the stories I’d been told as a child. I also wanted to share some of my experience with readers. My father comes from a long line of Hindu priests, so these myths were a large part of my childhood. The Ramayana is a particularly beautiful love story, and while my novel is a work of fiction, I really enjoyed crafting my version from such an inspiring mythology.
Your next release, “Waterfell,” departs from the world of vampires and witches but stays in the realm of fantasy and science fiction. What do you like about those genres?
Clearly, I love escaping reality. Fantasy and science fiction have always been my true loves. Don’t get me wrong, I love a great contemporary novel as much as anyone, but getting lost in a an epic fantasy world or meeting characters from other planets who have superhuman powers is icing on the cake for me. I like being able to push the boundaries of reality, to create mind-boggling ‘what if’ scenarios … for example, with WATERFELL, what if sea monsters really did exist? And what if they were a species from another planet hiding on ours? And what if they could shift into human form? With science fiction and fantasy, the possibilities are endless.
Like all of your books so far, “The Almost Girl” features a strong, independent female character as the protagonist. What do you hope readers learn from her?
I’m a huge fan of strong female protagonists (that said, I do have a novel with a strong male protagonist so I’m not gender-biased). I do like strong protagonists on the whole, but I also do think there has to be character growth that is transparent and meaningful to the reader. No one’s going to relate to a character who stays the same. With Riven from THE ALMOST GIRL, I love that she has to dig deep down to embrace her emotions. A soldier first, she’s so hard on the outside but still vulnerable on the inside—I really connected with her struggle to just let go of all her rules and be a girl. We build so many walls to keep from being hurt that we don’t allow ourselves to connect with others. I love that she was brave enough to trust her heart. In the end, I’m hopeful that readers will empathize with Riven and learn, as she does, that humans are born to feel, and that being open to life and love doesn’t make you weaker … it makes you stronger.
“Alpha Goddess” is your take on an Indian mythological tale. Where did you first hear about it?
Although ALPHA GODDESS is a work of fiction, a lot of my inspiration for the characters and the world-building in this novel is based on Hindu mythology. My father is a second generation Brahmin (priest class in traditional Hindu society), so Indian mythology was an integral part of my childhood and religious education. Fascinated by stories and legends of various Hindu gods who incarnated as avatars to avert human tragedy, I wanted to write an epic story that encompassed some of the Hindu mythology elements I enjoyed as a child, like the Ramayana, the story of Rama and Sita. Of course, ALPHA GODDESS is my own invented take on another reincarnated version of these characters, and does not actually exist in Indian scriptures.
You are quite the world traveler. How do you incorporate the cultures you come across into your writing?
I love meeting new people and exploring different cultures. I really believe that traveling the world has helped me to craft my characters, especially the ones that aren’t human (whom I have to invent). How do they evolve? How are they different from regular people? How are they the same? I enjoy using elements and facets from all the different cultures I’ve interacted with over the years to develop compelling scenarios and create robust characters in my writing.
I also like to include some of my favorite cities in my novels, for example, Paris and New York in BLOODSPELL, San Diego, California in WATERFELL, and Fort Collins, Colorado in THE ALMOST GIRL. Although a writer can research anything online, writing about a place I’ve actually been to helps me to picture scenes and places more vividly. It allows me to create more authentic descriptions, so that my readers can feel like they are there, too.
We can only imagine you’re working on something new. Can you give us any sneak peek into the mind of Amalie Howard and what’s to come?
I’m working on several different projects. I’ve just finished writing OCEANBORN, which is the sequel to WATERFELL, and I’ve also just completed a near-future, technological YA thriller/romance, which has a male protagonist that I’m very excited about. That one is now in the capable hands of my agent. In addition to that, I have outlined a companion novel to ALPHA GODDESS, and I am about to start writing the sequel to THE ALMOST GIRL. Lastly, I’m fleshing out a joint project with another YA writer that’s super secret and under wraps for now. So yes, I’m busy, but I’m embracing it all (with a lot of gratitude).
About Amalie Howard
A rising star among young adult writers, Amalie Howard developed a loyal following after releasing her debut book, “Bloodspell,” in 2011. Now, she is returning with five new books that are sure to excite her devoted fans and catch the attention of new readers.
A bookworm from the beginning, Howard grew up on a small island in the Caribbean with her nose buried in books. When she was just 13 years old, her poem “The Candle” was published in a University of Warwick journal, marking a sign of great things to come. Howard immersed herself into other cultures, globetrotting through 22 countries in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia. After moving to the United States, she earned a bachelor’s degree in international studies and French from Colby College in Maine. She also holds a certificate in French literature from the Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris, France. Traveling around the world, Howard has lent talents as a research assistant, marketing representative, freelance writer, teen speaker, blogger and global sales executive.
Howard is a recipient of a Royal Commonwealth Society award, an international youth writing competition. She is also a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
Howard’s first book, “Bloodspell” (June 2011, Langdon Street Press) earned rave reviews and was named a Seventeen Magazine Summer Beach Read. Readers will hear more from Howard as she releases a pair of two-book series, “Waterfell” (November 2013, Harlequin TEEN) and “The Almost Girl” (January 2014, Strange Chemistry), as well as “Alpha Goddess” (March 2014, Skyhorse/Sky Pony Press) over the next two years.
Howard lives in New York with her husband, three children and one willful feline that she is convinced may have been a witch’s cat in a past life.
Look her up on these sites!
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