“NetGalley delivers digital galleys, often called advance reading copies, or ARCs, to professional readers and helps promote new and upcoming titles. Professional readers–reviewers, media, journalists, bloggers, librarians, booksellers and educators–can join and use NetGalley at no cost.” Netgalley is a special section of my book discussions where I post reviews of the digital books I read through this service. It’s quite amazing the gems you can find. I’ve yet to regret reading a book, even if I don’t like it…
Sixteen-year old Elena Watkins is hurried from her house for the upteenth time by her dad, “We’ve got to leave! Now!” This time she finds out why…dragons exist and since she’s been on the other side of the wall, they can find her and her dad. With him out of the picture she is taken to safety in Paegia where she is allowed to go to school at the dragon academy despite being the daughter of a copper dragon because she has a dark mark, like a really dark mark.
Amazingly I was quite captured by this world despite the books many, many, many flaws. First is the terrible writing that pops up randomly, like this quote from the book:
“I pinched my arm quickly. He was such a god, and I had to make sure that this wasn’t a dream. He came back and handed me both axes gently.”
Add to all this that all the guys were hot, pretty or sexy and all the girls were described in some version of cute. Also any time two teenagers who just met “kiss passionately” it makes me want to gag on my tongue. It just doesn’t work for me!!
The next problem was the Harry Potter type world. Boarding school, castles, turret type dorms, magical lessons and training and even a shopping trip to pick up magical necessities, plus a headmaster one can respect and an evil wizard that is breaking out of his confinement. While it was all surface stuff, like a sort of listing of things that should exist if the writer wants it to be as popular as Harry Potter, I just wish some creativity could have been used to make their own world free of HP. Ideally, I’d want to read the book and not know absolutely that the author was a fan of HP!! That is an over arching problem of the book though, its fully of cliches, over used tropes and stereotypical writing and situations and none of it was made especially unique.
That is because the world building was very weak. It’s not that the world was boring or uncreative. The dragons were thought through and the idea of dragonians a good premise. Dragon shifting to human is not a new idea but she used it well as the core of the world that Elena comes to. And some really great history was developed around that core idea. It’s just that all the information about the world was dumped into dialogue and unless it was something she read, it was only passed to the reader through dialogue!! That is too much! You need the protagonist to explore the world themselves and make conclusions and share with us what they think and learn. All the telling was too much! The museum was a tad creative in that at least there was displays to describe besides the dialogue and it was a good way for the girl to know what the various dead people looked like.
Along with the Harry Potter type world we got the same boring high school experience for the entire middle of the book. It could have been set in any boarding school anywhere, it didn’t need to be magical nor did there need to be a prince. There was the classic two boy matchup though the second boy seems to be deliberately keeping away. Actually the battle from the beginning of the book kept me going through this part. There was a cool segue where one of her new, instant best friends ascended and won her dragon, but that simply helped you carry through. And it was a good idea to have tutors to help Elena pass so she could meet new people.
Then at 75% finally some good stuff started to happen. We got a cool little legend that played out, we met the evil wizard and averted total destruction of Paegia. “Finally!” I thought, “Something is happening besides history and info dumping!” There was so much potential in this world and even the characters, while somewhat cardboard, all had the makings of powerful examples in a rich story. Overwrought in the language, but a nice ending – the world has tons of potential and while the end was contrived I liked it. This seems to be the author’s debut book and for that it was good! I look forward to improvement in the next book…
BOTTOM LINE: Poor execution of many good ideas and a strong dragon filled world.
Thanks to Netgalley and Fire Quill Publishing for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.