Monday, February 8, 2016

Early Review: Riders by Veronica Rossi

by Veronica Rossi
Read: January 27 - 30, 2016
February 16, 2016 by Tor Teen

Source: Borrowed from Katie @LibrarianKatie_ 
Category: YA, angels/demons, male narrator 
Series: Book 1/2 

Book Depository: 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.

They fail.

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?

I've always been obsessed with books featuring horses, and the moment I saw the cover of Riders, I was desperate to read it. I really, really wanted to love this book, and was quite sad and surprised find myself struggling with the story at the beginning. In fact, I almost gave up, until someone recommended I give Riders at least 150 pages. That was a good suggestion, because it picked up big time around 100 pages, and I was very invested for the rest of it. However, despite my investment, the ending was rough again (I'll get to that), so I felt rather in the middle with this one. 

My major problem is that the story was told largely in flashback, and the lack of forward momentum in a book is hard for me. (highlight for spoiler) That coupled with the fact that the MC Gideon is tied up the entire time, and drugged to get him talking freely, was really tough for me. I don't like feeling trapped and powerless for that much of a story. Thankfully, as the middle got going and Gideon's storytelling got more fluid, with less stops back in the present, I was able to forget that it was all flashbacks for a while. 

This book has a whole angel/demon + elements from the Book of Revelation in the Bible set-up, which I thought was a creative take on a theme we've seen a lot of. I've never read a book focused on The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and I loved the way their group came together. It was exciting to find out who each of them would be - their personalities and abilities. The demons certainly were frightening, each with their own abilities. Though it was stressful to watch the characters encounter them over and over again, before they'd had much of any training.

The hardest part of this book for me was the first 100 pages, because it was slow to start and took a while to get to where the characters come together. Information about what was happening to them and why they had these powers was also slow to come (all the world building). And I greatly question why Daryn thought she had to keep all the secrets she did. Or at least I don't know if the benefits outweighed the consequences on everything. Although she is in much of the book, I don't know how I feel about her, so I am glad that the second installment will be from her perspective. It was very hard for me to sympathize with her choices sometimes. And I need more from her to really get into the romance.

This story is narrated by one of the Horsemen, Gideon and I liked Gideon's voice a lot (I think it was my favorite element), which largely saved this for me. He has such anger inside of him and I loved watching those layers peel back as we got to know him better. Gideon has the ability to make other people feel anger too, and as an already emotional reader anyway, who was frustrated by the beginning of this book, I'm pretty sure he worked his mind magic on me, because I felt amped up while reading. So for that, this book is definitely a success. 

My second favorite element was following Gideon and Daryn as they start looking for the other 3 Horsemen. That was a lot of fun, as was watching them learn about their powers, weapons and meet their horses. I loved the horses. 

The ending of this book brings a lot of high intensity and action. I was definitely on the edge of my seat through all of it, and picked up my reading pace a lot. I also get now why the story was told in flashbacks. But for me, the benefits from the flashback element did not outweigh my struggle with that method of storytelling. But that is a lot of 'it's me, not you' so take that into account. 

The book ends with a cliffhanger and that was really stressful for me. I've sort of made my peace with cliffies since they're everywhere now (and I told someone recently, I'd much rather deal with a cliffhanger than a love triangle!). However, I think because I struggled so much with the beginning as well as the general lack of forward momentum in this book, I really needed a more solid ending to this installment to feel really good about it. But the ending had several elements, that while surprising and intense, set my nerves on edge further and stressed me out even more. 

I definitely plan on reading the sequel - unless it's told in flashbacks again - but this one was mixed for me overall. Some really strong engaging parts, and some parts that frustrated me. I think that if you're able to handle the flashback set-up with no trouble, you're going to be fine with this one.

Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger scale: Based on my scale, Medium. But emotionally for me, High.


  1. This is the first review I've seen of this and as a fan of Rossi's debut trilogy I'm glad to know that I shouldn't go into this with extremely high expectations. I generally am not a fan of flashbacks and I feel as if I've been reading a lot of books this year that take awhile to pick up--like Truthwitch--and though I've eventually enjoyed them, it's been hard for me to love them. Anyhow, thanks for such a honest and helpful review, Lauren. I'm definitely still going to be picking this one up but it's good to go into this with the knowledge you've imparted opposed to completely blind. Gorgeous review, Lauren! :)

  2. Awesome review Lauren. <3 I love that you had such mixed feelings about this book. But aw, I do think you liked it more than I did, lol :D I mostly just disliked it all the time, sadly :\ The flashbacks were not written well. Sigh. And I never liked Gideon :p The only time I liked the book, truly, was at the end, when someone lost an arm, LOL :D Thank you for sharing sweetie. <3

  3. Sorry you didn't end up loving this one. I'm looking forward to it (I loved her trilogy) but I'm the opposite, I would rather have a love triangle these days than a cliffhanger ending. So stressful!!! Unless the next book is out and you can power through. Maybe I should wait until the whole series is out. I'm seriously considering just stopping any new series until they're complete. I would obviously have to have exceptions, but I really can't take all of these series. I can't keep them straight, I can't remember anything from book to book, and all of the cliffhangers are stressing me out. Sorry for the rant, but there you go.

    Great review, as usual! ~Pam

  4. Great review, Lauren. As always you perfectly articulated all ups and downs with this book.

    I hate cliffhangers! I on the other hand much rather deal with a love triangle than a cliffhanger. So I think I’ll wait for the next book before picking up Riders.

  5. I'm curious as to if the sequel will be told in flashbacks. I didn't love this form of narrative, but it didn't bother me too much. I liked this book a lot! Just not as much as Under the Never Sky. :D

    Great review, Lauren!

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!


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