Riders by Veronica Rossi
Book #1 in Riders
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Publication Date: February 16th 2016
ARC Provided by Tor Teen
I have had Under the Never Sky on my TBR list for a very long time so I jumped at the chance to read Veronica Rossi’s new series debut, Riders. I went into the story only knowing the basics — Horsemen, apocalypse, young adult fantasy — and I absolutely loved it! Riders was completely captivating and unique and I loved every minute of it. I actually had to break my reading time up because of real life responsibilities *grumble grumble* and it got harder and harder to pull away each time. I loved the world and mythology that Ms. Rossi created here and instantly connected with most of the characters. While I can see why some people might struggle with this book, what can I say… Riders just worked for me.
Riders was told in both first-person present and past tense, beginning at the end of the story and filling in the blanks as we go along. Our narrator, Gideon Blake, is a former Army ranger turned War, one of the Horsemen. Gideon is telling us the story of how he figured out who he was and how he, along with Daryn – a seeker, tracked down the other three Horsemen and began their fight against the demons. The story seems very straightforward at first — this happened, and then we did this, and then I felt this, and so on — but it quickly takes a darker turn when Gideon figures out his current situation isn’t exactly what it seems.
I actually enjoyed Gideon’s narration and was intrigued with the prospect of finding all the Horsemen. Since I knew going in that this was a duology, I was content to go along with the flow and allow the world to be created. Gideon’s voice felt authentic and I can definitely picture him as a real young man struggling not only with new, life-changing events but also with some deeply repressed guilt. I admit he could verge on whiny and hot-headed sometimes, but it actually felt integral to his character and development.
The other Horsemen in Riders weren’t as fleshed out as Gideon (I’m wondering if we’ll get a different POV in the next book to help with that), but some had more characterization than others. Sebastian, aka Famine, was a young Latino actor and probably my favorite character. He was so tender-hearted and just a genuinely good guy… I would love to know more him. Marcus, aka Death, didn’t have much characterization beside a scowl and tough guy exterior at first. That did change after he and Gideon started communicating more, but Marcus was a somewhat problematic stereotype at first. Jode, aka Conquest, pretty much drew the short end of the stick, being the last Horseman recruited right before they began their training montage. We don’t get to know him very well at all, beside he’s British and comes from wealth, and that disappoints me because I think I would have really liked him. The bits of dry humor he did get to show were great.
Daryn was not a Horseman, but she was a seeker — the one who received the visions of what was coming. I liked Daryn and thought she was an interesting character, but I am not sold on the romance between her and Gideon. She makes some really good points about why they shouldn’t be together, almost too good, and that never helps to sell your romance. We learned a lot about her powers and life as a seeker, but I think Daryn still has some mysteries and secrets that she is playing close to the vest.
Of course you can’t have a book called Riders and not have horses! We meet each of the Horsemen’s horses toward the end of the novel and they are absolutely magical. Sebastian has Shadow, a horse made of smoke and night. Jode has Lucent, Shadow’s opposite and crafted from the brightest light. Death rides a pale horse, Rot, and War, fittingly, has a horse made of fire, Riot. Each one had their own personality and characteristics and it was great fun seeing the humans training with their equine companions. I especially enjoyed the bonding between Gideon and Riot; Riot brought so much hidden emotion out of him and helped him to develop and mature as a character.
Gideon’s recap of events takes up about 90% of the story, but things do not end there. Oh no, Ms. Rossi is not done with us yet. There is a large and exciting battle that was chocked full of twists and turns, many that I did not see coming. The world that has been built within Riders is altered dynamically by these last few chapters. It gives this book a sense of closure, but also leaves plenty of open threads and questions for the next book. I’m definitely on board for the rest of the story and am so ready for book two!
Thank you to the publisher, Tor Teen, for providing an ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Rating: = B
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