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Riders Hardcover – 16 Feb 2016
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"Rossi has laid the groundwork for an intense new series sure to be loved by the author's fans. Intense enough for reluctant readers yet sophisticated enough to entice those who enjoy books with a military background and lots of action."--School Library Journal, starred review, on Riders
About the Author
Veronica Rossi is a New York Times bestselling author of fiction for young adults. Her books include Under the Never Sky, Through the Ever Night, Into the Still Blue. She completed undergraduate studies at UCLA and then went on to study fine art at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco. She lives in Northern California with her husband and two sons. When not writing, she enjoys reading, painting, and counting down the minutes until she can get back to making up stories about imaginary people.
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What intrigued me: The concept! I'm always ready for apocalyptic ya!
Not really an apocalyptic slaughterfest -... sadly
Rossi made the decision to have protagonist Gideon tell the story of how he became War in retrospective, under the influence of a truth serum. There's a sense of mystery to the story because we only get bits of it at a time, and this is just what had me on my tiptoes the entire time and really got me invested. However, because Gideon is narrating, the story sort of loses its focus on the paranormal aspect early on and turns into a typical contemporary story with a nauseating amount of filler that's super exhausting to read.
Because the majority of the book is spent dealing with the origin story, we have to wait for things to get really going. I was hoping for action from the first page and chaos and destruction. Instead of a dystopian, chaotic read with a side of fast-paced fighting scenes, this reads more like a paranormal YA with a twist. This is where I think this book completely fails, because you can't just turn a killer premise like that into a boring origin story book when it has the potential to be epic. I assume we'll find the epicness in the sequels (which I'm not going to read)
Great characters saving the day
Even though the synopsis suggests it, there isn't much romance in this book, and I'm very thankful for that. Because it has a male narrator I was very skeptical and weary of this maybe turning into a cheesy instant love romance. What ultimately breaks this book's back isn't the romance but the sheer lack of world building and plot. Nothing really happens in this, and it's just an awkward, almost road trip feeling kind of contemporary. It's really, really, really a way calmer read than I expected.
Well, at least I liked the protagonist. Gideon is a class A macho army kid, and yeah, I dig it. His voice is interesting, his character well thought-out, and his perspective seems very realistic. I especially enjoyed his relationship with his sister, it's always nice to see siblings who love each other and stand up for each other. Gideon really is what ultimately gained the two stars because the plot is absolutely boring. I like Gideon, I like the idea of this book, but with a massive lack of world building and poor pace, RIDERS isn't anything special and definitely not a must-read.
Overall: Do I Recommend?
RIDERS wasn't really what I expected and bored me more than it fascinated me. The interesting premise is pretty much wasted through the snail pace, which is a pity - I was ready to love this.
After surviving a death-defying accident, eighteen-year-old Gideon Blake awakes in hospital to find his wounds miraculously healed, his temper high, and a strange cuff attached to his wrist. And now, he has a strange but pretty girl telling him he is War, one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse.
Soon joined by his three other brethren, Famine, Conquest and Death, the four of the them now have the heavenly task of protecting a sacred key from demons. But when the horsemen fail and are taken captive by the government, everything now rests on Gideon being smart enough to convince his captors that the world is in great danger—and that he, and the rest of the apocalyptic horsemen—are actually the good guys. But will they believe him in time..?
It’s been ages since I read a book with a male protagonist— and I thought Veronica Rossi pulled it off very well. Combined with military, magical, and pure boyish elements, I thought RIDERS was a quite a refreshing read.
Gideon was a really likeable hero, very macho and real in his reactions to the fantastical. I liked the simple direction his thoughts went in, and since the story is all from his view point, the military style run-downs describing people and scenery were direct and to the point. It also made following the action scenes very easy.
In terms of the other characters, I’m really hoping to see more character building in the next book. I felt that we didn't get to know most of the other characters properly, especially Death and Conquest, both of whom didn't come into the story until nearly midway. I’m also hoping book two will have some much needed, bro-bonding time.
But the horses… I loved the horses! Actually the whole package of manifesting weapons, armour and shadowy/dusty/fiery/star-blinding mares and stallions was spectacularly done. Also I was moved by the fact that it was Riot, Gideon’s horse, who really broke through Gideon’s shell of grief and anger.
In terms of plot the story felt very mission like. The characters always had an objective, were always on the run from bad guys, and everything was very much go, go, go. However I think having the story from Gideon’s perspective really helped slow the action down, giving it a perfect pacing as he sort to rationalise and justify everything before taking action.
My only criticism is that I never felt the URGENCY that was clearly fuelling the characters along. While I really enjoyed the story, I didn't feel the characters really cared about protecting the key from the bad guys —partly because everyone seemed to withhold important information. Rather, all the action seemed to be based around the four of them staying alive. The all important key more or less took a back seat until the end of the story.
I think that’s why it took me so long to read this book—I found it easy to put down—however it was also a nice book to come back to. But it took me nearly 3 months to read this story since I would only read a couple of chapters here and there, usually in-between reading other things. It wasn't until the last third of the book that my attention was truly hooked and I managed to finish it.
But I most definitely will be reading the second book, and despite taking a while to finish, I did enjoy this story. It was something a little new and different. All in all, 3.5 stars!
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
I have been a fan of Rossi for years and was thrilled to see she was venturing into such a different type of book with Riders. From early reviews I knew this was going to be a much different reading experience and, overall, I found it to be incredibly original and interesting. I did, however, find that I was missing a level of connection to the characters that would have pushed this book into being an outstanding read.
We follow the story through Gideon’s first person point of view and watch things unfold through his experiences and memories. The approach Rossi took in telling the story, by using flash backs and an interrogation, worked for me better than I expected. I found myself captivated in finding out what exactly was happening and why.
Gideon was not what I expected for a main character though I had been warned by early reviews. His voice was so different than her other characters and he was much of a guys guy. I think this shows how great a writer Rossi is-she was completely capable of creating fully original characters in this new series. Though I respected Gideon’s character growth I never was able to really feel what he felt or connect deeply with him. I’m not sure if that was due to his character or me.
The secondary characters were well done (maybe easier for me to relate to than Gideon?) especially Daryn. I loved how mysterious her role in the story was and I really didn’t know where her storyline was going. Plus, she had great chemistry with Gideon. Each of the other members of the horsemen were pretty well developed though I favored one above the others. Plus, the horses. You can’t have horsemen without their steeds and Rossi really pulled out all the stops in describing and creating them.
Another plus in this book- the bad guys were really wonderfully evil. I was very pleased that one twist caught me completely off guard and I still don’t know exactly where things will go in the next book. This book was such a toss up of success and disconnect for me it’s rather hard to put into words. I did finish knowing that I’ll be reading the follow-up because I’m so curious to see where things will go.
The overall themes Rossi drew into the story such as, the four horsemen of the apocalypse, mythology, demons, and a few other things I’ll leave as a surprise really worked for me.
Though Riders wasn’t a complete success for me-I found myself intrigued with the storyline and how creative it was. The book was able to surprise me on at least one occasion and left me curious to what will happen in the next book.
Have you read any of Rossi’s work? I really enjoyed her Under the Never Sky trilogy. If you like YA sci-fi/fantasy, it is definitely worth a read! I think Rossi must have a great sense of humor because of the wit infused in that trilogy as well as in Riders.
Riders is written in first person from Gideon Blake’s point of view. It has been a long time since I’ve read first person from the male point of view, and I think Rossi pulls it off well. I enjoyed Gideon’s wise cracks and tendency to shoot off at the mouth in general yet, on the other hand, the leadership and bravery he can exhibit.
The storyline is extremely unique. Gideon dies in a parachuting accident and wakes up with a mysterious cuff on his wrist. Soon he meets Daryn, a girl he immediately likes. She tells him what his cuff means and what his mission is. He is a horseman, as mentioned in the book of Revelation in the Bible. Daryn and Gideon need to track down the other three horsemen and bring down the Kindred, an evil group of dissenters from Satan who are seeking power of their own.
I really liked this book! I immediately connected with Gideon and enjoyed the relationships he establishes with Daryn as well as with the horsemen. I think the descriptions of each horsemen’s abilities, weapons, and (most importantly) their horses are really cool. I like the strength exhibited by the only prominent female character, Daryn. She is an important piece of the puzzle and is respected by the guys. I also enjoyed how the story is told…It begins at the end, with Gideon being questioned about what in the world has happened, and is told through flashbacks.
I recommend this book to anyone wanting a good read that is different than other recently published YA. Plus, we get a sequel next year! The very last page of book 1 (don’t go read it!) ;) and the book 2 title give me an indication of where it might be going. And it’s something I’m excited to read about!
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Who wouldn't want to read about the four horsemen of the apocalypse? Veronica Rossi takes these fierce but holy horsemen and makes them humans who die and find themselves called to battle for dominion over mankind. They are all so different, and you will feel a part of the story as you come to love them all.
And then there are the horses which are as unique as their owners. The seeker Daryn who receives holy instructions to guide the horsemen. And yes, Veronica has added a love story.
Take a ride with the horsemen. You will be glad you did!