Riders by Veronica Rossi
Book One of the Riders series
Publisher: Tor Teen
Publication Date: February 16, 2016
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publsher
Summary (from Goodreads):
For eighteen-year-old Gideon Blake, nothing but death can keep him from achieving his goal of becoming a U.S. Army Ranger. As it turns out, it does.
Recovering from the accident that most definitely killed him, Gideon finds himself with strange new powers and a bizarre cuff he can't remove. His death has brought to life his real destiny. He has become War, one of the legendary four horsemen of the apocalypse.
Over the coming weeks, he and the other horsemen--Conquest, Famine, and Death--are brought together by a beautiful but frustratingly secretive girl to help save humanity from an ancient evil on the emergence.
Now--bound, bloodied, and drugged--Gideon is interrogated by the authorities about his role in a battle that has become an international incident. If he stands any chance of saving his friends and the girl he's fallen for--not to mention all of humankind--he needs to convince the skeptical government officials the world is in imminent danger.
But will anyone believe him?
What I Liked:
I'm going to start my review by saying that this is one of those books that you really need to read for yourself, don't necessarily trust the reviews (positive or negative). Obviously my review it going to be positive, but I've seen many negative and DNF reviews for this book. I adored Rossi's Under the Never Sky trilogy, and I thought her New Adult contemporary romance series (under Noelle August) was just okay. I've had Riders for months, but I put off reading it until February, upon the publisher's request. I personally think it was well worth the wait! By now, I've seen a mix of reviews, but I managed to evade the specifics and form my own opinion. I encourage anyone interested in this book to do the same!
This book is written backwards - Gideon is telling a federal agent what happened, so the story is being told to us. We know that Gideon is drugged and held in a prison at an unknown location, and that he has been separated from three males and one female that he had been with, in Norway. We know that he is one of the four Horsemen, and that they was protecting something incredibly important, but everything went wrong. Gideon must tell his story in hopes of the agent believing him and letting him go - but it's not as simple as all that.
I don't usually like books that are written such that the story is being told back to us, in which a character is in the present and telling us the past. However, I think this type of storytelling worked, in this book. I think a lot of people struggled with this, especially in the beginning, but I think Rossi did a really good job of crafting the story with this uncommon way of sharing the story.
I adore Gideon. He's got a temper, he's a tough guy, he's a hard worker, he's got a serious case of OCPD, and he's a good person. He has so many layers - I love how thoroughly and deeply Rossi digs into his character. He has so much baggage from his past that is weighing him down, and part of his journey throughout this book is coming to terms with the baggage.
This book is told exclusively in Gideon's first-person POV, and I love this change of pace (compared to most YA novels). Just Gideon in first-person, no one else. Gideon has an interesting and hilarious voice. He's sarcastic and yet direct, commanding and sometimes harsh. He has a military mindset, with the precision and the commands and the physical and mental strength.
Gideon is War, hence the temper. Throughout the book, he and Daryn (a girl who shows up needing his help) search for the other three Horsemen. There is Sebastian, who is Famine. He is talkative and excitable, and the joker of the group. Marcus is Death, and he is hardened and almost unfeeling. He and Gideon do NOT get along (but they are so similar). And finally, there is Jode, who is Conquest. He's a "pretty boy", rich and cultured and polished. Together, the group must work together to help Daryn and protect the mysterious THING that the bad guys are looking for.
There is romance in this book, and there is NO love triangle/square/pyramid/pentagon/anything of the sort. It's a linear romance, and a slow-burn one, and not an easy one. I loved watching Gideon and Darryn fall for each other, but Darryn pulls away from Gideon constantly (for good reason, unfortunately), and I just wanted to smoosh their heads together! The romance is pretty minimized, though it is there. I think it might be a tiny bit more present in the next book, but I like that it isn't the main emphasis of the story. Not by far.
I won't say much more on the plot, but I will say that the story starts very slowly. I remember reaching the fifty-page mark and losing interest a little. But if you power past the 100-page mark, you'll be fine. The story took off around page 120 ish, and I couldn't stop reading. I loved seeing Gideon's character development, the small progressions in his relationship with Darryn, as well as how the four boys work together. The bad guys - demons - were a strange bunch, as was the world-building of this book. Still, I like what Rossi has going on here.
Overall, you can probably tell that I liked this book. Maybe not as much as I'd liked the Under the Never Sky series, but this new Rossi book didn't disappoint me at all! I can't wait to read the next book in the series.
What I Did Not Like:
Like I said above, the beginning of this book is SO slow. I actually wasn't getting into the book and wanted to push it back (for the forty billionth time), but I wasn't feeling it. It took me about 150 pages before I really started flying through the pages. So, be aware of that.
Would I Recommend It:
This book is set in the modern world, but obviously it's got tons of fantasy elements. If you're a fan, give it a try! This book isn't stuffed with religion (though there are Biblical references), and it also isn't consumed by romance. Gideon is a likable and noble hero, and I wouldn't mind reading more from his POV! Book two, here I come!
4 stars. I'm so glad I kept reading, and that I didn't get deterred by negative reviews. I wasn't likely to get deterred, since I got this one from the publisher and I've had it for review for months, but it's disheartening to see people dislike a book that you've been dying to read for years. I'm glad it didn't disappoint me!
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