Review: The Almost Girl (The Riven Chronicles #1) by Amalie Howard

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Today is my stop during the blog tour for The Almost Girl (The Riven Chronicles #1) by Amalie Howard. I’ll share my review with you today and a guest post.

The Almost GirlTitle: The Almost Girl
Author: Amalie Howard
Series: The Riven Chronicles #1
Rating: 4 stars
Genres: Science Fiction/ Dystopia
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Blurb:
Seventeen-year-old Riven comes from a world parallel to Earth, a world that has been ravaged by a devastating android war. As a Legion General, she is the right hand of Prince Cale, the young Prince of Neospes. In her world, she’s had everything: rank, responsibility, and respect. But when Prince Cale sends her away to rescue his long-lost brother, Caden, who has been spirited to modern day Earth, Riven finds herself in uncharted territory.

Armed with the mindset of a soldier and racing against time to bring Caden home, Riven must learn how to blend in as a girl in a realm that is the opposite of all she’s ever known. Will she be able to find the strength to defy her very nature? Or will she become the monstrous soldier she was designed to be?

My Review:
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.

Guest Post:
Character Inspiration & Dream Cast for The Almost Girl

When I was initially doing the character study for Riven (whose name means ripped apart), I knew that I wanted her to be fierce. After all, she becomes a General of an army at fourteen and she comes from a very tough universe, so she has to be the result of that. In Neospes, there’s no room for softness and emotion. Those are the things that can get you killed. As a result, Riven is the perfect product of her environment. She’s a very intense character. I needed her to be powerful, highly skilled, focused, and mature.
My inspiration for Riven’s character came from a few different sources. The first was Max from Dark Angel TV series. I loved the fact that Max was so capable and fierce, but was also so guarded. I wanted my character to be similar—especially as she navigates the new terrain of a parallel universe that is the complete opposite to her own. Like Max, Riven has to learn how to trust and how to love while still being strong and lethal. My second source of inspiration was Leeloo from the movie The Fifth Element, one of my all time favs (and yes, I know I’m a total nerd). I love that scene where Leeloo takes out the Mangalores singlehandedly. She, like Max, is fierce, but in a different way. She’s built to be the Earth’s defender—the fifth element—and she has to learn about who we are as humans before she’s able to do the job she was created to do. I liked her inner fragility when it came to learning about love, and I wanted Riven to have the same sort of feel—hard and unapproachable on the outside, yet soft and curious on the inside. Last but not least, there’s definitely some Ellen Ripley in there, but it’s the Ripley from Alien Resurrection, where she has inherited some of the alien traits. She’s so awesome during that basketball scene in the mess hall on the ship. I loved her innate confidence and unflappable nature. I wanted Riven to have some of those qualities. Highly trained, she knows who she is and what she can do.
Like all of these amazing, multi-faceted heroines, I wanted to create a dynamic character who is forced to question everything she is and everything she knows. A soldier first, Riven is hard on the outside but still vulnerable on the inside—I wanted readers to relate to her struggle throughout the novel to 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. As a character, Riven has to dig down deep to embrace her emotions against everything she has been taught. In the end, is she brave enough to learn how to trust her heart? Will she always be the tough, invulnerable soldier? Or will she find a balance between the two?

DREAM CAST
RIVEN – Astrid Berges OR Imogen Poots
CADEN – Brenton Thwaites or Nicholas Hoult
SHAE – Sienna Guillory
AURELA – Charlize Theron
Riven’s Father – Michael Fassbender
Era Taylor – Famke Janssen

PRAISE FOR THE ALMOST GIRL:
“A high-octane thriller. SF and dystopia fans will be right at home with this book and its fierce, capable heroine.” ~ Publishers Weekly

“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

“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 Howard’s writing is sharp and smart. I’m definitely craving the next installment!” ~ Page Morgan, author of The Beautiful & The Cursed

AmalieAbout the Author:
AMALIE HOWARD grew up on a small Caribbean island (Trinidad & Tobago) where she spent most of her childhood with her nose buried in a book or running around barefoot, shimmying up mango trees and dreaming of adventure. 25 countries, surfing with sharks and several tattoos later, she has traded in bungee jumping in China for writing the adventures she imagines instead. She isn’t entirely convinced which takes more guts.

An aspiring writer from a young age, Amalie’s poem “The Candle,” written at age twelve, was published in a University of Warwick journal. At fifteen, she was a recipient of a Royal Commonwealth Society Essay Award (a global youth writing competition). A Colby College graduate, she completed simultaneous Honors Theses in both French and International Studies, and graduated Summa Cum Laude/Phi Beta Kappa. At Colby, she was cited for research and criticism in Raffael Scheck’s article, “German Conservatism and Female Political Activism in the Early Weimar Republic,” and his subsequent book, Mothers of the Nation. She also received a distinction in English Literature from the University of Cambridge (A-levels) as well as a certificate in French Literature from the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris, France. Traveling the globe, she has worked as a research assistant, marketing representative, teen speaker and global sales executive.

She is the author of several young adult novels critically acclaimed by Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, VOYA, and Booklist, including Waterfell, The Almost Girl, and Alpha Goddess, a Spring 2014 Kid’s INDIE NEXT title. Her debut novel, Bloodspell, was a #1 Amazon bestseller and a Seventeen Magazine Summer Read. She is also the co-author of the adult historical romance series, THE LORDS OF ESSEX. As an author of color and a proud supporter of diversity in fiction, her articles on multicultural fiction have appeared in The Portland Book Review and on the popular Diversity in YA blog. She currently resides in Colorado with her husband and three children.

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