by Rachel Hartman
I got this as an audiobook from the library just before we left on our Thanksgiving trip to Memaw and Papa’s house. Since we didn’t have a family read for the long ride, I offered my book.
I didn’t know what to expect when I picked this up. I’d heard good things, and knew it was about a half-dragon. Beyond that, well, I just hoped it would be age appropriate for my three little spiders (ages 6, 8, & 10).
I would place the age range slightly above the little spiders’ age range. Fortunately anything that might have been inappropriate was worded subtle enough that it passed over their heads.
Both the writing and the world building are more complex than the spiders are used to, but they’re loving it almost as much as we did. Even our youngest laughs about some of the scenes and talks about the half-dragon girl, and here, I figured she’d fall asleep out of boredom.
The vocabulary was a bit advanced, which I loved; there were even a few words I had not previously known. These words were easy enough to understand in context, and don’t worry there is no vocabulary quiz at the end. ;-)
I liked the vocabulary too, but at the same time, it sometimes lulled my mind into a sleepy state. Maybe it was the reader’s soft voice and the way it rolled melodically through my head, but whatever it was, my mind would wander out of the story and then I’d be lost for a moment.
Best part of this story is the dragons. Every word the dragons say shows just how non-human they are: their emotionless nature, their analytical minds, their inability to understand the basic human concepts of love, honor, or empathy.
The best parts for me were when she meets the other half-dragons. I especially liked Lars exclaiming “I LIKE IT LOUD!” in the middle of his concert. I liked seeing how they were all marked with different strengths and afflictions and how they had adapted to them. It is interesting that so many of them excel at the arts when it is something that dragonkind cannot seem to grasp.
Haha, Lars was awesome. And Mrs. Fuss Pots hitting Seraphina with a book! That had us all laughing too.
Two things that made me grit my teeth:
(1) Seraphina’s constant lying to keep her secrets from people who I liked and felt like she could trust, and she kept cowering and wallowing in self pity. Oh, I’m so ugly with my scales. If they knew, they would revile me. So THANKFUL when she finally got over that.
(2) The racist bigotry from both dragons and humans in their great dislike and distrust of each other. Why can’t we all just get along? Why can’t we love each other for our differences?
Yet both of these things added tension and world building and character development to the story. They frustrated me, but at the same time left me in awe of the author for the added detail.
Describing music in words has always been a difficult task. Yet the author seemed to make it look easy. As an old band geek and choir singer I have a passion for music. I also spent a few years in architecture classes (until the lack of sleep took its toll). At one point she begins describing the music using architectural structure elements, I was in awe hearing her describe the music this way spoke straight to my soul.