That is the question at the heart of The Fallen Prince, as Riven grapples with the question of whether she is more human, or more machine. Specifically, she struggles with wondering whether she has a right to human emotions, like romantic love. And if she doesn’t have a right to those feelings, should she just resign herself to being an calculating killing machine, like she was designed to be?
The Fallen Prince is the second book in The Riven Chronicles series, but it stands alone well. I had no problem following the story line, and any references to the previous book, The Almost Girl, were well explained. My main issue with this book, was the lack of connection I felt to the characters for most of the story. In fact, I didn’t start to feel anything towards them until the last quarter of the book. That quarter, however, was excellent and had me on the edge of my seat!…but, it was a slow struggle to get there.
First, I will get my criticisms out of the way. While this is by no means a bad book, I felt that many of the elements involved in the romantic storyline were predictable, and disappointing. One of my biggest issues with it, was that the relationship between Riven and Caden seemed lacking; the physical aspects were there in spades (and at times super hot!), but I was left wanting a deeper connection between them. I also love a good love triangle, or at least some romantic trepidation, but the romantic issues were just not believable, and I never doubted that they would be resolved easily by the end of the book. And indeed, the romantic tribulations were neatly tied up at the end, yet I didn’t feel as blissfully fulfilled as I usually do at then end of a book about relationships. Similarly, I felt that most of the characters in the book were very one-dimensional, which goes back to why the book felt extremely predictable.
All that being said, there were some things I loved about this book! There is one huge plot twist that I didn’t see coming, involving the identity of the book’s evil mastermind, which is why the last quarter of the book was thrilling! I also genuinely liked Riven, since I am partial to sword-swinging alpha female characters, who hide their vulnerabilities behind a mask of bravado. The other thing about this book that I both enjoyed and appreciated, were the underlying themes. One question posed in the story involved the issue of just how far we should go in developing technology and artificial intelligence. In our ever more tech-centered world, I think this is an excellent question to ponder. The second theme, as I mentioned at the beginning of the review, is what makes someone human? What is humanity, and is it something every being carrying human DNA has? The character of Riven clearly shows that humanity is about intent and heart, and about being willing to sacrifice for others. Meanwhile, the villains in the story show that humanity is a quality that can be lost in one’s quest to become superior, if that quest in undertaken at the expense of others.
Overall, I would recommend this book, with the caveat that you have to be patient and wait for good stuff! I think it would make an great train/plane/car trip book, and with summer upon us, it is an excellent little mid-week escape. If you would like to get a copy, click here!