Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Almost Girl by Amalie Howard, hosted by JKS Communications! You can read my review below but first, here’s what The Almost Girl is about:
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.
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
In a word: a thrilling, non-stop story, full of surprises I did not see coming, with an interesting and conflicted heroine, and some very inventive world-building.
I close my eyes as the lessons of my childhood overwhelm me with barbed cruelty. We’re taught early on to curb our emotions and to make decisions with sound logic. Love isn’t something that’s valued in Neospes. Families are engineered based on survival abilities and genetic compatibility, not love. It’s a useless emotion that causes people to do stupid things in its name.
Based on the kick-ass cover of The Almost Girl, I was ready for a kick-ass heroine to blow me away. And I have to say, the story mostly lived up to the cover. The character of Riven was so well done, and Howard puts her through so much that I was simply impressed that she made it to the end alive! The author uses inter-dimensional travel to tell an exciting story about a girl who must travel from her own dimension, the world of Neospes, to locate and bring back a boy named Caden from our world. Riven is tough, but the things chasing her and trying to prevent her from finding that boy are even tougher. The result is non-stop action, characters in danger, surprises around every corner, and some unexpectedly poignant moments between characters.
When the story begins, Riven has been searching for Caden for three years, when she finally locates him in one of her high school classes. Caden appears to be a normal teen, well-adjusted and unaware of his true identity. (And the reader is also unaware at this point, exactly who Caden is and the real reason he needs to go back to Neospes.) And all Riven knows is that her best friend from childhood Cale, who also just happens to be the prince, has asked her to bring Caden back in order to save their world. Riven is a soldier and is used to following orders, and she would never think of questioning Cale. So when she locates Caden, she has only one goal in mind: to prepare him for the jump through dimensions and take him back to Neospes.
But Howard doesn’t make that easy to accomplish, and Riven and Caden are suddenly faced with multiple distractions and dangerous factions that want to stop them. As they race for their lives, Riven begins to question not only her loyalties to Cale, but exactly what it means to be human.
Let me start by saying this is a complex story. At times I was confused by the many sudden turns of events and the—literal—jumping around from place to place. But what kept me grounded were the emotional moments when the characters connected with each other. One of my favorite relationships was between Riven and her long-lost sister, Shae. For many years, Riven has believed Shae to be dead, but when she miraculously turns up after Riven has located Caden, you can imagine all the emotions she is suddenly faced with. The two have a very complicated history, so their feelings toward each other are not easily resolved.
In The Almost Girl, most of the characters are hiding something, and much of the story is spent slowly revealing these juicy tidbits. I won’t give anything away, because you’ll want to make these discoveries on your own. I will tell you my favorite part of the story, however, which hopefully won’t spoil anything. Although much of the book takes place in our world, Riven and Caden do finally “evert,” or jump, back to Neospes, and when they do, they end up at the edge of the city in a place called the Outer. I loved the idea and descriptions of the Outer so much that I almost wish the entire story had taken place there. Howard has mad world-building skills, and they really shine in this wonderful creation of hers. The Outer is literally the outskirts of the city where creatures both human and non-human are exiled as punishment. It’s a dangerous place, but full of hidden beauty as well, and I loved the unexpected things that happened there.
I also loved the Vectors, one of the scariest creatures I’ve run across in some time. Vectors are reanimated dead bodies who are brought back to life and used as killing machines. Riven and her friends have some nail-biting encounters with the Vectors, who were responsible for much of the tension in the story.
The one story element that just didn’t work for me was the forced romance between Riven and Caden. I don’t know why YA authors and publishers feel the need to stick romance into every single YA book, but there are times when you just don’t need it for a successful story. This is one of those times. I get that Riven is torn between her upbringing as a soldier, that emotional connections aren’t necessary to survive, and the fact that she’s starting to have feelings for a boy. But one scene in particular drove me crazy, and it’s not the first time I’ve read a scene like this. Near the end of the book, during a very tense moment when Riven and Caden break into a house to steal something they need, they decide it would be a great time to have an intense make-out session in the middle of the living room—even though they know there might be surveillance cameras nearby and that they might be caught at any moment!!! This is not a good time to decide you finally want to kiss someone, people! I seriously wanted to smack both of them.
But despite this one complaint, I enjoyed The Almost Girl so much. The story ends on a cliffhanger, and I’m assuming there will be a sequel at some point, at least I hope so! I’m dying to read more of Riven’s story, especially after the very unexpected reveal about Riven herself. If you love strong female characters and suspenseful action, you can’t go wrong with this book.
Big thanks to the publisher for supplying a review copy.
About the Author:
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.
More great books from Amalie Howard:
Bloodspell | June 2011 – Langdon Street Press
Waterfell | October 29 2013 – Harlequin TEEN
Alpha Goddess | March 4 2014 – Sky Pony Press