I found this book by browsing the highest ratings in sci-fi & fiction. The description had an original feel to it, and the cover was intriguing, so I decided to give it a try. I'm glad I did, because it was a great read. I always look up the authors I read as well, so when I found out that Miss Ivanovich was a new author I was excited to write a review and help her first book get the attention it deserves!
That being said, I like to start w/ any negative comments I have so that I can finish on a positive note. :D
If there's anything negative I could say about Haven, it's that it's a fairly slow starter. It wasn't a problem for me personally, but less patient readers may get a little, well, impatient. Take that with a grain of salt though - I'm conscious of the fact that this is a teen/young adult novel with a female protagonist, and I'm a guy in my late 20's, so the beginning, which concerns Katelyn's home and school life, will be a lot easier for its primarily intended audience to identify with. And just to reiterate, while I recognized that the beginning was a bit slow, the steam punk influences, the mysterious hints about the outside world and founding of Haven, and the quality of writing, among other things, were more than enough to keep me engaged until the meat of the plot began to unfold.
I also wanted to make a note about the larger than usual number of typos in the kindle version. I worry that people will make a "bush league" sort of attribution to the author. More likely, it's error that occurs in the process of formatting the digital file to be compatible with Amazon's publishing software (I hope to publish at some point and looked into doing so through Amazon, and have read that it's difficult to make it turn out perfectly). My point is, it's probably Amazon's fault and not the author's so keep that in mind!
As far as the positives go, I think Haven has a lot to offer. The basic premise of a cloistered, utopian community isn't unheard of, but the author takes the idea, makes it her own, and executes it masterfully. She did a fantastic job revealing the history of Haven little by little, so that I devoured every nugget of information she provided and was always extremely curious to find out more. The characters were all interesting and realistic, and some (I'm thinking of Katelyn's dad, for instance) featured archetypes/personalities that I don't think I've really seen before. She did a great job with Rune and Dylan in particular, keeping you on your toes, never completely sure that you knew what they were really like until the end. Katelyn, the protagonist, was also great of course - very believable and easy to get invested in.
The last thing I want to comment on is that the story has a "happy" ending. I'm a very, very firm believer in novels having happy endings. Save your poetic or literary or whatever-fancy-word-you-want-to-call-them endings for short stories! If you're going to write a novel and get people emotionally invested in your characters, those characters should be not necessarily be perfectly happy, but realistically content(if you don't understand what I mean by that, read the last few pages of the last book of The Inheritance Cycle...Eragon's cliche "My life sucks but what the unknown future has in store is exciting so I'm happy" contentment is NOT realistic). I'm not going to give spoilers, but suffice it to say that while things aren't exactly the way Katelyn would like them to be at the end of Haven, she is happy and you leave the book feeling content. That, more than anything, is a good reason to read this book.
In case you didn't know Miss Ivanovich is currently writing a sequal to this book! There's a lot I'm still very curious about, so I for one will be excitedly awaiting it's release. :D