Fantasy, Young Adult
Hardcover, 608 pages
Published March 10th, 2015 by Penguin Random House
Note: A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for my honest review. All opinions expressed here are completely honest and completely my own.
This is the second book in the Serphina duology by Rachel Hartman, and it picks up right where the first book left off. So, warning! This will contain spoilers for the first book!
At the end of Seraphina, war broke out in Goredd. This war is between the humans and the dragons, and amongst dragons of differing ideologies. Seraphina Dombegh is among the rare half dragons, the ityasaari, who have a strange bond with one another that may help win the war. Seraphina can see these ityasaari in her mind’s garden, but she must find them in the real world and enlist their help.
Set sets off to faraway lands with her friend Abdo, in search of those like themselves. This journey leads them to strange places and stranger people, stringing together a group of misfits. However, there is one of the half dragons who is unlike the others. She is not well meaning. She has a strange gift that allows her to creep into the minds of others and influence them, even take over their bodies. Seraphina has been able to shut herself off to this ityasaari… but in shutting herself off from them is she also shutting herself off from realizing all her gifts? She has to decide between taking a risk, or playing it safe.
I received a copy of this book from Random House Canada for review. Since I listened to the first book in audiobook form, I paired the written book and audiobook together this time. It was great! Same narrator. Loved it!
I really enjoyed getting back into this world and learning more about the characters. But while I did really enjoy it, I had a few qualms. Okay, well, SEVERAL.
This book is huge. And it felt it. At the beginning, Seraphina is getting ready to set off on her journey, and she and Kiggs are keeping things on the DL. Like, seriously on the DL. They are practically never together, which is disappointing. The beginning was really quite boring and this was actually my second go round. I tried to read it back in March when it came out but just couldn’t get into it.
There is also a good chunk of the book just devoted to Seraphina’s travels, probably half of the book or more. The actual conflict doesn’t start until more than halfway! This was really fun at first, but I their journey kind of dragged for me after a while. It got SO REPETITIVE. Search, find, success, STUFF, Search, find, success and/or STUFF, BADDIE. All the while, the Seraphina we know and love is kind of… Just there. While we do get peeks into her mind, they are much less interesting than the first book. While she does begin to question their quest, her motivation, and the reasons why she can’t see mind fire, there just isn’t the same inner turmoil. She doesn’t appear as strong or something. And there is way less emphasis placed on her Mind Garden, which is just kind of odd? And her music is just basically not in this book??
I was also a little disappointed because they were away for so long and Kiggs and Glisselda weren’t in it during that time! We only heard about them when Seraphina would talk to them on the thnik. Also, Orma is hardly in it at all… 🙁 The good thing about this journey part though was that were learned more about mind fire, as well as about the countries surrounding Goredd. It was really interesting to see the different cultures and approaches to dragon-kind.
I also found that the baddie was depicted as too infallible, and the ultimate solution was too weird and easy and quick. The same goes for the dragon war. Pretty anti-climactic if you ask me. It all resolved way to quickly, especially for such a big book.
I found the resolution to the romance kind of weird, but interesting. I am sad, however, that there wasn’t more time spent on this after the solution is revealed. Because… I WANT TO KNOW MORE. IT’S SO UNIQUE, ESPECIALLY IN YA.
So… In conclusion, there are some solid additions to the world building, but the pacing was off, the characters weren’t quite as good, the plot was repetitive, and the ending came about too quickly. HOWEVER, I did still enjoy this book. Rachel Hartman is an amazing writer and world-builder. On the whole the book was so-so, but the writing was beautiful. If you liked Seraphina, definitely read this. Just don’t expect it to be as good.
Beth is the founder and editor of Fuelled by Fiction. She is a twenty-something east coast Canadian girl who loves writing about books and feminism.