My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This surprised me a bit. The first chapter makes it seem like a fairly generic fantasy (even if the romantic couple are teenage girls) where the leads are broken apart by the big bad priestesses taking one of them away. This changed the further along I read, with some interesting worldbuilding and a genuinely different way of looking at dragons, along with some notable personal growth on the part of the central protagonist, Maren.
What impressed me the most was how well-written the charcter of Maren was. I think sometimes in YA books the main characters are more "teen-agey" than they need to be--that is, they make rash and/or dumb decisions just for plot convenience purposes. Of course such characters are usually not well written to begin with. I never got that vibe from this book. Maren's single bad decision was at the beginning of the narrative, when she hatched her pie-in-the-sky plan to go to the Dragon Fortress and steal a dragon, with very little knowledge of the actual creatures or how the Dragon Fortress was run. This halfbaked idea soon came to a screeching halt, but Maren learned from her error, retrenched, and began to plan anew. She was cautious and thoughtful, and the mistakes she made were from simple inexperience rather than being Too Stupid To Live (a distinct difference). The story grew along with her character, well-paced and slowly revealing its depths, and by the time Maren busted her girlfriend Kaia out of the place where Kaia had been held captive (and acquiring a huge black Mother of Dragons along the way), her triumph felt totally earned.
This book ends on a cliffhanger, so be aware if you don't like that kind of thing. I'm not overly fond of it myself, but in this case I can live with it. I've already pre-ordered the second book in what is apparently a duology, and I'm looking forward to the rest of the story.
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