When Maren’s girlfriend Kaia is taken by the Aurati to join their evil ranks, Maren decides to save her girlfriend the only way she knows how—by infiltrating the emperor’s dragon fortress, stealing a dragon, and then storming the Aurati stronghold. It’s impossible, but Maren is determined to be reunited with her love.
This is a story that I probably would have adored 4-5 years ago.
Dragons. High stakes. Rebellion. A bisexual heroine in a fantasy world where queerness is accepted and normal.
Maren has absolutely no personality beyond “I must save my girlfriend!” Absolutely none. Which made me roll my eyes at everything else that happened to her, because it just felt like she was going through the motions of the plot—and is suddenly good at everything she does.
She has an amazing sense of smell. Somehow learns enough of what the Aromatory does (after that women dedicated her life to her work) in like, a month to recreate vials and potions well enough to train dragons—and oh, learns enough to be able to control dragons and know what is best for them.
Everyone she meets wants to flirt with her or kiss her (for the most part, but it happened enough that I rolled my eyes so hard I felt like they were going to fall out of my head), and she is weirdly attracted to Sev for no real reason I can see? I dunno.
Plus, in a turn that should surprise no one, in a leap of really blessed logic, this Mary Sue magically deduces a very spoilerly thing that both comes out of nowhere and should also surprise no one. Because Mary Sue.
None of the other characters were developed enough to really pay attention to. The only ones I found partially interesting where the Aromatory and the SPOILER, but they had such a small role in the entire book.
As for the rest of the story. I just. I don’t know.
I wanted to love the world-building, but it felt all over the place and contradictory at times. Maren’s understanding of the world waffled between ignorant little mountain girl to all-knowing savant, and it complicated the world-building and how everything worked.
Finally, her attitude towards the rebels (of course there are rebels and of course Maren meets them), is, “OMG you people are such phonies! You only want dragons for your own selfish reasons“, hypocritically ignoring the fact that 1) she just met them 10 minutes ago and 2) for the past 2/3 of the book she too had been trying to acquire a dragon for her own selfish reasons—chiefly, rescue her girlfriend.
So. Things I appreciated:
1. Super queer world.
2. People of color prominently featured, even if the cover feels lacking
Things I really did not like at all:
1. Bland, Mary Sue MC
2. Bland, generic plot (but with dragons)
3. Bland, half-assed love triangle
This is not a bad book, but it was definitely one that I should have DNF’d 50 pages in. But I didn’t, and while things perked up around page 100 (when Maren finally finagles her way in as the Aromatory’s apprentice), things devolved considerably once she leaves the dragon fortress.
However, my experience isn’t one-size-fits-all.
This might be the book for you (did I mention there were bisexuals and dragons??).
It just wasn’t the book for me.
I received this ARC from NetGalley for an honest review.
Shatter the Sky releases 30 July 2019