I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Series: Fallen Isles #1
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on September 12th 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
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Mira Minkoba is the Hopebearer. Since the day she was born, she’s been told she’s special. Important. Perfect. She’s known across the Fallen Isles not just for her beauty, but for the Mira Treaty named after her, a peace agreement which united the seven islands against their enemies on the mainland.
But Mira has never felt as perfect as everyone says. She counts compulsively. She struggles with crippling anxiety. And she’s far too interested in dragons for a girl of her station.
Then Mira discovers an explosive secret that challenges everything she and the Treaty stand for. Betrayed by the very people she spent her life serving, Mira is sentenced to the Pit–the deadliest prison in the Fallen Isles. There, a cruel guard would do anything to discover the secret she would die to protect.
No longer beholden to those who betrayed her, Mira must learn to survive on her own and unearth the dark truths about the Fallen Isles–and herself–before her very world begins to collapse.
I was so excited to be approved for this eARC through Edelweiss (I’ve been having more luck than usual with Edelweiss recently – anybody else??). Thanks publishers! I have really enjoyed the first two books in Jodi Meadows’ New Soul trilogy (gotta pick up that last book soon!), as well as Lady Jane which she collaborated on, so I was very excited when I heard she had a new fantasy book coming out.
The World Building
The world building was by far my favorite part of this book! Already in this first book there was a lot of culture and religion introduced, and I can tell that this world is a lot bigger than what was touched on in this first book of the series. There are multiple cultures and it was interesting to see them contrasted with each other, with the main message of the book being equality. I loved how Jodi Meadows took a real world conflict and brought it to life in a fantasy world. I hadn’t read the synopsis before picking this up and didn’t realize there were dragons in this world, so that was an amazing surprise (I LOVE DRAGONS). I really enjoyed this take a on dragons – there are many different species of dragons that come in various sizes with their own characteristics. I definitely didn’t get enough of the dragons in this first book and I need more! This book really only serves to introduce you to the dragons in this world but you don’t get to spend as much time with them as I would have liked.
I really liked the main character Mira. She wasn’t your typical bad ass female heroine – she has “flaws” that she has to overcome to save herself and her friends. By “flaws” I mean that Mira has a lot of anxiety, which isn’t really a flaw but more of a realistic attribute that we never see portrayed in heroines. Mira is constantly worried about her safety and the safety of her friends and has to fight off panic attacks, which she does by obsessively counting things. Mira is also a person of color! I know that Jodi Meadows did enlist the help of sensitivity readers and, while my opinion might not be the most important voice on these matters, I thought the mental health and POC representation was done well. There is also a slow burning romance that I really enjoyed (I love me some slow burn!!) and I LOVED that this romance didn’t magically “fix” Mira’s anxiety.
The plot was probably the weakest part of the story for me, but I still really enjoyed it overall. I would warn you that this book is not action packed – it is more of a slow moving mystery where pieces are revealed as you go along. The mystery aspect is what really kept me intrigued. As the synopsis tells you, Mira is sent to a prison and most of the book is set in this prison. You don’t actually find out why she was sent there until almost halfway through the book, so I spent the first half of the book extremely curious as to how she got there. There are a lot of flash backs in this book, which reveal Mira’s life before her imprisonment, and I really enjoyed those glimpses of her past. We get to know Mira’s two best friends through these flash backs as well as see the dragons. I do have to mention that I never completely understood why Mira was such a special person in her community. Why would you name a treaty after a baby, and why would that baby be special just because a treaty was named after her? I think this question will bug a lot of readers, but I was able to look past that and just accept it to enjoy this story.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book! The world building was complex (and I know there is so much more to learn about this world), and the main character is so unique and different from typical YA fantasy heroines. The story might be a little slow moving, but the complexity of the world and the added element of a mystery kept me intrigued and coming back for more. I’m definitely looking forward to the next installment in this series, even though I’m going to have to wait a while. I recommend this book to fantasy lovers who appreciate complex world building and diverse characters (and DRAGONS).