Is no secret that I’m a fan of Meljean Brook. Her characters are compelling, the worlds she creates are complex and reading her books is a wonderful experience. That’s the reason why Riveted was one of my most anticipated books of the year. Now that I’ve read it, I can tell you that the anticipation was deserved.
Annika grew up on an isolated village in Iceland, a very uncommon village. What makes it extraordinary is also the reason why it must remain a secret. So for years its inhabitants have fueled the mystery with legends and stories. But one day Annika’s foolish mistake endangered that secret and her sister, Källa, took the blame. As a result, Källa was exiled and Annika left the village to bring her back.
Four years later she still has no clue of her sister’s whereabouts. Her whole life she dreamt of adventure, and now crewing on an airship has allowed her to see the world and live many adventures but it’s a bittersweet situation, first because her sister is missing, and also because her upbringing was so different that she’s not familiar with social rules and conventions, people don’t understand her and she feels like an outsider.
David is a volcanologist searching for his mother’s village. She died protecting him from an explosion and made him promise to find her village and burry her necklace there. That same explosion cost him an eye, a leg and an arm, so now he has metal prosthetics instead. But in his side of the world people like him are regarded as monsters and he doesn’t fit. Some women are afraid of him, some are repulsed, and some can’t see past his body to the man inside, so he’s resigned to be alone. But instead of brooding and tormented, David has a positive take on life, takes pleasure from his job and is driven by the desire to fulfill his mother’s last wish.
When David and Annika meet two things happen: two outsiders find a place to belong, and David finds the clue that will lead him to his mother’s village. Their differences bring them together, but their loyalties drive them apart. It won’t be an easy road, especially because they also have to deal with a villainous mad man.
This is the most detailed explanation of the plot I can give you without being detailed at all. I think that one of the reasons I enjoyed the story so much was because I read it almost completely in the dark. I didn’t know what to expect and it made the reading experience richer and surprising. Just like its characters, Riveted was different, original and refreshing.
I wrote a whole post about Annika for Heroes and Heartbreakers, so I’ll keep it short here. All the heroines in this series are memorable and Annika is no exception. She’s the star of the book. I thought she was very approachable and different. I liked that she was a bit naïve but not stupid, she was aware of her weaknesses and strengths, she knew when to save the day and when to ask for help. She gets a hero that’s worthy of her and so David was just as passionate and loyal. Ms. Brook didn’t take the common road with him, so instead of writing a tortured and dark character, she wrote a beta hero with a happy, positive disposition.
Riveted is an adventure, yet the action is never the focus, in fact, there’s not that much of it. If you’re expecting an epic journey, you won’t find it here. The book starts slow and the first half is a character-oriented romance. I thought it was part of its strengths and I was glad to have the time to connect with the character, but there’s a possibility you will find it boring. Even the setting feels claustrophobic and isolated. Riveted isn’t one of those stories in which the fate of the characters is directly connected to the fate of the world. If David and Annika don’t succeed, their particular world will end, but that’s it, humanity is not at risk. Personally I thought it made the saving of the day much more believable, but as I said, don’t expect something bigger or you will be disappointed. The action is subdued, the villain walks the fine line between nuanced and cartoonish and the ending didn’t match the buildup. But I didn’t care because I was invested in the character and engrossed by how complex and different the story felt. And that was enough for me.
I want to keep talking about the book because I didn’t even begin to scratch the surface, but that will have to wait until you have read it. It is an outstanding story and one of the best books I’ve read this year. And the best part is that it stands alone so well, it could as well be the first book in the series. Annika and David are new to the books and previous characters aren’t mentioned. A series where every book stands alone... Is like the unicorn of series! I never thought I’d see the day. Go get it!
Review by Brie
A century after a devastating volcanic eruption forced Iceland's inhabitants to abandon its shores, the island has become enshrouded in legend. But the truth behind the legends is mechanical, not magical--and the mystery of the island a matter of life and death for a community of women who once spilled noble blood to secure their freedom.
Five years ago, Annika unwittingly endangered that secret, but her sister Källa took the blame and was exiled. Now Annika serves on an airship, searching for her sister and longing to return home. But that home is threatened when scientific expedition leader David Kentewess comes aboard, looking to expose Annika's secrets. Then disaster strikes, leaving David and Annika stranded on a glacier and pursued by a madman, with their very survival depending on keeping the heat rising between them--and generating lots of steam…
Berkley Trade. September 4, 2012