Monday, December 2, 2013

Haven - A. R. Ivanovich (War of the Princes #1)

11758870Ivanovich's Haven is the story of Katelyn Kestrel, a girl with an uncanny ability to find things who decides she wants to find a way out of her home in Haven Valley to see the Outside, which her people abandoned seven hundred years ago.  She does so with remarkable speed and in the process runs into Rune, a wounded soldier who's so sick he thinks Katelyn is either a delusion or a ghost.  In the process of helping him, Katelyn is captured and taken prisoner in the Outside world, and must escape back to Haven Valley.

I really loved Ivanovich's world.  It's a mix of fantasy and steampunk, with magical abilities existing alongside steamships and things like the Clockwork Ferris Wheel.  I would have liked to see more of the people in Haven Valley, like Ruby and Katelyn's other friends, but I think they might appear more in the second book of this series.  Katelyn herself wasn't exactly a fantastic character.  She was whiny and selfish and for the longest time had no idea about the consequences of her actions.  For example, the character Dylan explains to her that soldiers like Rune are not allowed to have connections; they have no family, no friends, no lovers, and forming those connections would result in death for the involved parties and the recruitment of another child to fill the soldier's place.  Despite that, Katelyn goes on and on about how betrayed she is that Rune won't turn into a mushy pile when he sees her, even after she meets his former younger sister--you know, the type of kid who'd be forced to become a soldier if Rune strayed from the rules.  Katelyn does eventually grow up a bit, but it's not until the very end of the book, and then it was remarkably abrupt.

The romance in this book isn't quite insta-love, but it is perilously close to it.  Rune is, obviously, the main love interest, though there's an almost-love-triangle with Dylan at points.  I wouldn't go so far as to say Katelyn falls in love with Rune as soon as she meets him; rather, she is intrigued by him and wants to help him, very much like Dylan is intrigued by her.  However, her intrigue rapidly ascends into what might be called outright obsession, and two kisses later she's declaring she's in love.  So, not quite insta-love, but almost as bad.  I did like Katelyn and Rune together, I'm just not sure I liked how it was done.  Also, where did Rune get the impression that he and Katelyn had kissed before they ever actually did?  That was never explained.

I'm going to let the whole "knack for finding things" go because that was explained later in the book, and worked into the world.  It was well done, and I approve of the way Ivanovich went about it.  The whole thing with the different levels of command was excellent, and the behind-the-scenes dealing and intrigue that we don't see until very late in the book was awesome.  It's what really forced Katelyn to grow up, and I liked it.

Ivanovich isn't the best writer I've ever read.  Her style is engaging enough, I guess, but she has some grammatical issues that need to be worked out; as they are, they can jar you out of the story, and then you have to work to get settled back in.  Still, a good plot can compensate for a lot, and I think Ivanovich has that.  A lot of the issues I had with this book early on worked themselves out later, and I think I would definitely be interested in reading the second installment of the series.

3.5 stars.

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