Katelyn Kestrel has always had a knack for finding missing things. All she needs to do is think about what she wants to find, and her gut tells her where to go.When she decides that she wants to check out the forbidden outside world, it’s not difficult to find. A quick look and then she’ll return to the idyllic Haven with a tale of a secret adventure. Unfortunately, Katelyn quickly finds out that there was a reason that access out of Haven was blocked hundreds of years ago. Suddenly thrust into a violent world with warring princes, people with abilities, and the frightening possibility that she’ll never be able to return to Haven, Katelyn has to figure out a way to escape without bringing this violence down on the home she left behind.
Haven was a quick read with likable enough characters. But, as a whole, I feel that the story could have used a little more character building because I felt that a lot of their actions were sudden and not thoroughly explained. There wasn’t really any buildup to events; they just occurred in a fly by the seat of your pants way. Which made it very easy to flip through chapters, but not very easy to connect to characters. I understood why they were in danger, but I didn’t feel the danger. Katelyn was a typical teenager who–surprise!–is slightly different than her friends. She’s not incredibly popular, does things that alienates her from her peers, and longs for adventure. It becomes a little bit of a story of how special she is, which may have been meant as an ah ha! moment but had been obvious from the start.
She also was a whiner, which is something that can drive me crazy in a protagonist. Her call to adventure was so stupid. She’d had a bad evening, people made fun of her, and when she got home the door was locked. Instead of knocking on the door like a normal person, after saying how much her family–half blood, half step–loved her, she decides to run away because she just wants to be anonymous somewhere. I get the desire to escape, especially when this is meant to be an adventure story. However, running away seemed so extreme after she had literally said the paragraph or so before how much they loved her. It just marked her as very immature, a trend that continued when she had dealings with characters–including a couple cases of instant-love–in the outside world. The other characters in the outside world were interesting. Dylan Axton helped her around the new world and served as a way for her and for readers to learn how the world worked out there, while Rune served as a tragic character who couldn’t control what was happening to him. I liked when they were more involved in the story.
The world building of the outside world was done well. At first I didn’t feel that it went into much detail, but as the story progressed the world was gradually built up with only a few moments where I felt it was slightly info-dumpy. The outside world was more fascinating than Haven; whenever the characters were in Haven, the story slowed because it was the standard teenagers goofing off just before graduation fare. I thought that A.R. Ivanovich did a nice job with building up the world of abilities (and those who use them for both good and bad), Dragoons and their military standing, as well as the motivations of the people in the outside world. I wish that the novel hadn’t moved so quickly through events and places because it would have been fascinating to see how Katelyn reacted to common life there.
Haven is one of those books that wraps up with a tidy little bow and if I didn’t have the next three in the series lined up on my kindle, I would assume that Haven was the end. As it is, there wasn’t much left in the way of continuing the story other than the vague threat of something is out there, so I am interested in seeing how the series continues. There’s a lot of potential for me to like the outside world and its characters even more, so I’m hoping that they get away from Haven in the next book.
I received a read-to-review copy of Haven from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.