Top critical review
Okay for a light read
on 6 January 2016
While I think I can see why some people rate this novel so highly, it just wasn't the story for me.
I liked the idea behind it more than I did the execution. The worldbuilding was heavy-handed and never really went deeply enough. A lot of it is exposited in the eleven page introduction which reads like a geography text book. There was a distinct lack of politics in the story, despite how the world was formed, and the book frequently dropped concepts or used unique words without fully explain them. It took me half of the book before I sussed what a fewmet was!
I also found the treatment of the dragons to be a little unpleasant. Yes, I know that they're fantasy creatures in a made-up setting but people treated these obviously intelligent creatures horribly throughout the novel - hitting them with sticks and cattleprods and forcing them to battle in violent cock-fights. Even Jakkin, who speaks as though he is forever concerned about his dragon's safety, is still very quick to shove her into a potential fight to the death.
The novel also contains some questionable material and so I'd advise parents read it before giving it to younger teens - there are frequent references to drug use and prostitution and some gory dragon-deaths throughout. However, the tone of the novel is fairly light and so it would make a quick and easy read for a teen reader.
In terms of the characters, I was also disappointed. Jakkin was okay, if a bit forgettable. I didn't dislike him but he sometimes behaved incredibly childishly and naively and so it was easy to forget that he was supposed to be fifteen. The other characters were far less interesting. The only female character of note was Akki, who existed to be a love interest for Jakkin. All of the other characters were pretty bland and the dialogue felt unrealistic and over dramatic.
All in all, it was okay for a light read. Fans of dragon stories might get a kick out of it but there are far better YA fantasies out there.