Undergrad California girl reading and reviewing young adult, mystery, classics and whatever else takes my fancy.
This book had all the ingredients to be a brilliant read: an intelligent and sympathetic protagonist, political and social conflict, a touch of romance, quality writing, fear of alienation, fear of the unknown, good guys, bad guys, guys who think they are good but aren't, and, of course, dragons! But I just couldn't get into it. It just wasn't for me.
There were a lot of interesting and compelling elements to this story. For one, our main heroine Seraphina herself. She is an excellent protagonist! Her personal dragon issue provides a plot, but her personality and character are what truly make her awesome to read. She is very private and very emotional. She is highly sensitive to the emotions and relationships of everyone around her. She reminds me strongly of my favorite protagonist: Jane Eyre. They both have an intense inner life as well as empathy and understanding for others. And both have passionate personalities, but are also a bit rigid and "prickly." (For those who are into this stuff, as a complete non-professional, I'd say that they are both INFJs in Myers-Briggs.)
The effect of Seraphina's narration is to illuminate all sides of the socio-political issues of her world. She sees all sides, therefore, we do too. This brings me to the other major highlight of this story: the complicated and realistic socio-political world building. How do humans react when trying to coexist with another intelligent life form? In this case, it's dragons. Rachel Hartman presents us with a dilemma more similar to our own world than I was expecting.