Now that I am more connected with the book community online, I’ve actually been reading up to date and popular books as they come out. It’s such a strange phenomenon.
Riders by Veronica Rossi is a young adult novel, the first of a duology, that received plenty of hype up to and following its release this February. I read it. Now I’m going to tell you about it.
Context: I was really concerned about this book. I was raised in a military family and am an equestrian, and am therefore generally really snobbish and picky about both of those elements in books. Also, I’ve been disappointed by several new releases in the young adult target genre recently, so I went into this story mentally braced for impact.
Positive: Both the narrative and voice of Riders were highly enjoyable. The plot structure was interesting, and served well to keep me engaged, despite the somewhat bizarre concept. Certainly it wasn’t the strangest thing I’ve read, but it was abrupt and did take some getting used to. The dialogue was enjoyable, and overall the book was well paced and gripping. There was little attempt at realistic horsemanship (phew), which helped integrate the equine elements smoothly into the story. However, Rossi did manage to describe the bond between horse and rider so well, it made my heart ache with the truth of it. The military half was thorough, accurate, and respectful – more of a plot tool than a character element, but could continue to grow in the sequel.
Negative: Consider me jaded, but I am so sick of novels – especially in the young adult realm – beginning with the appearance of a mysterious and attractive individual. Maybe you could argue that Riders didn’t begin with Daryn’s appearance, but I feel that the forward moving plot really did. Which, to me, makes the romance aspect of the story seemed contrived and ridiculous. I’m tired of teenagers falling in love with other teenagers they don’t know. I’m tired of “instinct” driving their every action. Which leads me to the fact that the characters in Riders, besides Gideon’s, all seemed very generalized. It was almost as if they were concepts of characters, rather than multi-dimensional, concrete characters. It’s possible that this was an intentional choice on Rossi’s part, as the characters- and their corresponding horsemen of the apocalypse – do represent concepts, but it prevented me from caring about them or their quest.
Summary: If you’re a fan of young adult fantasy/adventure, I guarantee you will enjoy this book. I had a great experience reading Riders. But, it was trapped in the unfortunate cycle of falling short of its own potential. In a way, it seemed incomplete. Like perhaps another editing pass could have added the depth of character and thematic material that the book – and the young adult “genre” as a whole – are currently missing.
XX. Shelby Jo
P.S. This is going to be my last categorized review. I enjoyed the process of my Batman vs. Superman review immensely, and it’s time I stepped it up.