Publisher: Greenwillow / HarperCollins (April 2014)
Genre: Fantasy, Dystopia, Young Adult, Dragons
Format: Hardcover ARC (432 pages)
Source: Free copy from publishers for honest review
Find It: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Rating: ★★½☆☆ (2.5 stars)
Debut author Joshua McCune’s gritty and heart-pounding novel is a masterful reimagining of popular dragon fantasy lore, set in a militant future reminiscent of Paolo Bacigalupi’s Ship Breaker and Ann Aguirre’s Outpost.
It’s a high school prank gone horribly wrong-sneaking onto the rez to pose next to a sleeping dragon-and now senior Melissa Callahan has become an unsuspecting pawn in a war between Man and Monster, between family and friends and the dragons she has despised her whole life. Chilling, epic, and wholly original, this debut novel imagines a North America where dragons are kept on reservations, where strict blackout rules are obeyed no matter the cost, where the highly weaponized military operates in chilling secret, and where a gruesome television show called Kissing Dragons unites the population. Joshua McCune’s debut novel offers action, adventure, fantasy, and a reimagining of popular dragon lore.
At A Glance
I think this might be the most conflicted I have ever been over a book. So bad, yet so good.
The concept was amazeballs. In short: Some dragons are bad, some good, but most people think they are all killers. So the world is ruled by a government that kills and experiments on them. They also use and abuse teenagers who can talk to dragons to capture and kill even more of these beautiful creatures. Blood and pain ensues.
I love dragon books and we just don’t get enough of them in the YA genre. The dragons were my fav characters. They had so much passion, so much bravery, and so much anger. I really got a good visual of them, as well as an understanding of their personalities.
The action was damn good. The dragon fights up on the air were bananas. The extent of cruelty the government was capable of really kept me on my toes because they had no limits. People without limits can be a frightening thing.
Allie was Batty BcBatterson. Coco for Cocoa Puffs. Crazy, party of one. And I loved her the more for it. She was just another talker amongst the dragon talkers. But she had been reconditioned, and when you are reconditioned, you are never quite right in the head again. Allie does crazy good. She plays the game, the ‘I hate dragons, kill them all’ game, but deep down, she knows who the real monsters are.
By the end, I was dying to read book #2 already. Just…wow! Even with a rating of 2.5, I know for sure I will continue this series. Now that is saying something.
There were some parts where pivotal things happen. But they go by so fast, are so glossed over, and are so straight up confusing that I found myself scratching my head on what just happened. I don’t want to feel that way while reading a book.
Most of the characters, but especially Melissa and James, were pretty unbearable. Melissa is an insensitive, selfish, uninteresting bitch. And James is her boring, annoying, tantrum throwing love interest that served no purpose. I almost stopped reading because of how little chemistry and realness these characters had. Not a genuine emotion between the two.
You know who will love this book? People who love torturing dragons. Oh, you don’t like when dragons are bashed, broken, fried, and flayed in the name of good fun? For 75% of the book? Oh, well then, you might not like this book. Because it’s pretty much a manual guide on how to torture and kill dragons…and people.
Very little world-building and the writing was stiff. The villains, which were the majority of the population, were evil for the sake of being evil. I find it hard to believe the government and the general population could be that monstrous.
The romance is pretty meh. It never really gets anywhere. James and Melissa connect a little in the beginning, all those long talks during war, death, and dragon killing. But when they meet again in the second half of the book, things take a one-eighty, and honestly, I just didn’t care. As a couple and as characters, they meant very little to me.
Some sexual situations but nothing too bad for a YA. I think it would be all the detailed dragon and human torture that would not be suitable for a young audience.
Technically, this was not a well done book, but for some reason, by the end, I was a little obsessed with it. Definitely a love/hate relationship. I want to read the next book but I don’t know if I would read this book if I knew what was coming. It’s up to you guys if you want to try this one out.
Can’t quote from the ARC, sorry.