Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Review: Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Seraphina took the literary world by storm with 8 starred reviews and numerous "Best of"€ lists. At last, her eagerly awaited sequel has arrived €”and with it comes an epic battle between humans and dragons.
The kingdom of Goredd: a world where humans and dragons share life with an uneasy balance, and those few who are both human and dragon must hide the truth. Seraphina is one of these, part girl, part dragon, who is reluctantly drawn into the politics of her world. When war breaks out between the dragons and humans, she must travel the lands to find those like herself, €”for she has an inexplicable connection to all of them, and together they will be able to fight the dragons in powerful, magical ways.
As Seraphina gathers this motley crew, she is pursued by humans who want to stop her. But the most terrifying is another half dragon, who can creep into people’s minds and take them over. Until now, Seraphina has kept her mind safe from intruders, but that also means she’s held back her own gift. It is time to make a choice: Cling to the safety of her old life, or embrace a powerful new destiny?
Praise for Seraphina:
A New York Times Bestseller
An Indie Bestseller
Winner of the William C. Morris Debut Award
Winner of the Cybil Award for Teen Fantasy and Science Fiction
An Amazon Top 20 Teen Book of the Year
A Chicago Public Library Best Book of the Year
A Kirkus Reviews Best Teen Book of the Year
A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
A Library Journal Best Young Adult Literature for Adults Selection
A Booklist Editors’ Choice
An ABA New Voices Pick
A Publishers Weekly Flying Start Author
An ALA-ALSC Notable Children’s Book
An ALA-YALSA Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults Book
Recipient of 8 Starred Reviews
"Beautifully written, well-rounded characters, and some of the most interesting dragons I'€™ve read in fantasy for a long while. An impressive debut novel; I can't wait to see what Rachel Hartman writes next.€"
--Christopher Paolini, New York Times bestselling author of Eragon
"€œA novel that will appeal to both fans of Christopher Paolini'€™s Eragon series and Robin McKinley€™'s The Hero and the Crown."
--”Entertainment Weekly

MY TAKE:
I don't usually read books that are part of a series out of order, but when presented with the opportunity to read Shadow Scale, I grabbed the chance.

In Shadow Scale, in order to protect Goredd, Seraphina must find other half-dragons like her in order to create a protection that can keep dragons out of the city. However, Jannoula has found her way back and what she has in mind is too horrifying to even imagine.

It's been awhile since I've read a high-fantasy book so it took a few chapters to get accustomed to the strange names and places used. However, once I got a firm grasp of the basics, it was easy to get into the story, even though I hadn't read the first book. There are enough clues and explanations in this book for those who haven't read the first book to follow and appreciate the story in this one.

I haven't read a lot of books with dragons as main characters, so this one was a nice change. The characters were well-rounded and didn't feel like stock characters. The world was also well-thought-out and felt complete. Even though I only saw glimpses, I could see in my mind's eye the rest of the world, if that makes any sense.

The story was complex and it's not always easy to predict what comes next. Even during the moments wherein I couldn't understand why something had to happen that way, there was always an acceptable explanation later on.

For all that, however, I didn't connect with this book as well as I expected I would. I mean, the story was great, and so was the world, which is already half the battle for me. However, there were a couple of things that were probably what diminished my enjoyment of the book.

One, is Seraphina herself. I liked her most times, but there were also moments when she irritated me and I felt she needed to toughen up. I prefer my heroines to be a little bit harder than she is emotionally, and more naturally warrior-like, even if they weren't warriors per se in their worlds. As you can imagine, though, there aren't a lot of heroines I've read who were the perfect blend of warrior and vulnerable to me. In that sense, my disappointment with Seraphina was more of a personal preference thing, and I don't think the typical reader would mind it much.

Another thing that I found odd and not to my liking was how the love triangle was resolved. It made sense with the rest of the story, though, so I guess it really is one of those preference things.

Thanks to NetGalley and Random House Books for Young Readers for the e-ARC.

THE GOOD:

  1. The characters are complex.
  2. The world and its history feels real and complete.
  3. The story is intriguing. 

THE BAD:

  1. Seraphina can stand to be a little tougher emotionally. 

READ IT IF:

  1. You liked the first book.
  2. You like books with dragon or dragon-offspring protagonists.
  3. You like complex characters and well-developed fantasy worlds.

RATING:
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