Book Report: Our highly scientific analysis of a book, from the characters to the writing style to the swoon. See More...

Love Is A Universal Constant

It’s hard to believe there’s a universe out there that makes the “universe” of a normal high school experience appealing, but Amalie Howard has included one in The Almost Girl.

Love Is A Universal Constant

BOOK REPORT for The Almost Girl (The Almost Girl #1) by Amalie Howard

Cover Story: Futuristic Swordplay
BFF Charm: Eventually
Swoonworthy Scale: 7
Talky Talk: Humans Are as Humans Do
Bonus Factor: Alternate Universes
Anti-Bonus Factor: I Can’t
Relationship Status: Second Date-Worthy

Cover Story: Futuristic Swordplay

I don’t exactly know how a sword like that can be electronically controlled, as the lights and circuitry seem to imply, but I do know that girl is looking fierce. I would totally rock the half-shaved look if I could. That earpiece, though—It definitely looks like it’s causing some issues. I’d suggest she get that checked out, stat.

The Deal:

Riven isn’t from around here. In fact, she’s from a completely different universe, one wholly unlike ours save the fact that humans live there. Her universe is technologically advanced, policed by zombie-like soldiers called Vectors, has been irreparably scarred by the Tech War—a war between androids and humans—and is ruled by a young king who’s fallen ill. Riven has sworn her life to the service of her king, so when he tells her she must travel to the Otherworld (our world) to find the only thing that will help him, she goes without question. It’s only when she discovers her target that she begins to question … everything.

BFF Charm: Eventually

Riven is not a kind girl. She’s abrasive and cold and can be downright mean. She’s kind of a bitch at times, to be completely honest. But it’s not entirely her fault. Her world is seriously messed up: From a young age, she was trained to be a soldier, taught to use weaponry and master fighting techniques when other kids her age, at least in our world, were watching cartoons and playing on jungle gyms. Her father was unfeeling and pushed her to her limits, hardening her to any feelings other than the adrenaline rush that came with winning a fight. Her situation is very much a nature vs. nurture situation—I’m sure she could have been a playful, loving child had she been given the opportunity. She certainly grows over the course of The Almost Girl, and you can see the humanity shining through at times. But it’s rare, and Riven often discounts it as a weakness when it happens. Girl needs a hug, but I don’t really want to risk my life by attempting it.

Swoonworthy Scale: 7

From the description above, you might not think it was possible for Riven to give in to a feeling such as love. Many of her more “human” moments come through, however, when she’s around a certain young man.

Talky Talk: Humans Are as Humans Do

The two worlds Amalie Howard has created in The Almost Girl couldn’t be more different, but they share similarities that makes it easy to believe that they could easily both exist (if alternate universes actually existed). On the one hand, you have our “normal” universe, filled with “normal” high school kids. On the other, you have a war-torn, police state universe, filled with teenagers who are hardened soldiers. It’s perfectly plausible to read about a universe in which humans let technology nearly get the better of them.

Also, Howard does a good job of making it apparent that Riven sometimes has trouble with our world without making her comedically out of touch. Riven knows nothing about our universe when she pops into it on her mission, but she learns to adapt quickly, which shows that no matter the situation they’ve grown up in, humans are inherently similar. It’s a nice thought.

Bonus Factor: Alternate Universes

I love the idea of alternate universes, even if universes other than ours are often depicted as kind of awful or hellbent on taking ours over. It’s fascinating to hypothesize (and read) about  how one small deviation could create such massive differences.

Anti-Bonus Factor: I Can’t

The whole “I love you, but I can’t be with you” nonsense makes me roll my eyes, grit my teeth and want to physically shake some sense into a character. I always get frustrated with authors when they pull this sort of crap in a book. I understand that the plot device adds tension to a story, but everyone knows they’re going to end up together. At least Howard had the good sense to knock it off before the end of the book.

See also:

Casting Call:

Phoebe Tonkin as Riven

Because girl gives excellent bitchface.

Relationship Status: Second Date-Worthy

Although there were things about your story, Book, that I found a little ridiculous, our first date was quite enjoyable overall. Your world is unique, and your characters, although damaged, are interesting and worthy of time spent learning their flaws—it was good to see them grow as people rather than being forced to play a role the entire time. I’m interested to see where life takes them, and I look forward to our next date.*

*The Almost Girl is part one of a duology.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a free review copy from Strange Chemistry. I received neither a private dance performance from Tom Hiddleston nor money for this review. The Almost Girl is available now.

Mandy Curtis's photo About the Author: Mandy is a small town girl living in a nerdy world, or—if you want to get literal—an editor/writer living in Austin, TX. In addition to yearning for YA books—the more dystopian or fantastical, the better—she can also be found swooning over superheroes, dreaming of The Doctor and grinning at GIFs.
K