This book fell victim to the hype for me—both positive and negative. I was honestly expecting amazing things from this book because it has, I thought, so many of the things I adore: dragons and riders where the dragons choose who they want based on merit, and a heroine that no one expects to survive. I love everything about that. But the hype train on this sold me on the idea that this was THE book I had been waiting for all year and, while it had a strong start and an exceptionally strong finish, I soon found the middle to be lackluster, to feel like it was slogging through a checklist of tropes that are better suited in YA novels, where this book definitely does NOT belong (not a dig at YA either, just saying).
And then the negative hype train started, centered on a statement this author made and I looked into some of the “problems” people had with the book itself—while still reading. Perhaps that was a mistake of mine, but after looking at what others had said, I could see how Xaden’s story arc could be problematic and harmful, and how uncomfortable it is to have Violet be so incredibly thirsty for this man. Plus Violet can be seen a bit too much like the “white savior”. Some of those things were bothering me before looking at other reviews, but those feelings got worse afterwards.
It honestly made me stop and really analyze what I truly felt for this book free of others’ opinions. My conclusion? The story is merely fine. The genre is a bit confused because the tropes and cliches are better suited to YA dystopian, a la Hunger Games with dragons, but the violence, language, and sex definitely make this a NA or above, hence the 3 stars. I think too much time was spent in the school setting and not enough on the twists that unfolded in those last chapters, which were great! Those last chapters do make me excited for the sequel, but I’ll be going into that with lowered expectations, which is, quite honestly, probably for the best.
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