Shatter the Sky by Rebecca Kim Wells
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The introduction to Shatter the Sky is absolutely adorable. We meet two girls, clearly in love, who are kissing in the woods. How cute right?! Sadly these two girls are almost immediately separated. Although that is the plot of Rebecca Kim Wells story; so I suppose it's hard to critic (lol). Unfortunately the remainder of the story isn't written as smoothly as the opening chapter. Many times Wells goes from stilted plot points to convenient happenings to confusing the heroine's goals throughout the 300 pages. And while there are dragons present they are perhaps not as prominently featured as many would like. Although I expect that will change into book 2 of the series.
Yes, there are dragons. Yes, people ride them. No, I do not know anything more about dragon riding than you can assume in advance of reading this novel. At best we learn about dragon eggs and bonding humans to dragons. That is essentially it. I craved a lot more context and content about how they rode dragons, our lead gals plan to steal one (she has no plan ever which was annoying), and/or if dragons were inherently friendly or not. We get tidbits of the personality of some dragons (and some possible reasons why) throughout; but I never felt like I really understood the culture of dragon riding or the historical reasons for dragons being used the way they are (other than the usual boring reason of war).
The overall plot is cliche but works. Girl looses girlfriend to an enemy group, girl leaves home to venture to save girlfriend, girl determines she needs a dragon to win, girl meets boy on the way and girl does a bunch of things because conveniently events fall into place for her. Oh wait, that last one is perhaps not in well written books.
One of my top 3 pet peeves in any plot is convenience. If a lead character just 'happens' to find a trap door, secret entrance, stumble upon a conversation, or is in the perfect spot every time they turn around; then probably your story is too convenient. I'm okay with these things happening once in awhile; but not every time the lead leaves her room. I got excited at one point during the novel that maybe our lead gal had some bad luck... except that bad luck 'drops' her into the hands of the boy who leads her on her journey. *sigh* Convenience is very boring and takes away from the excitement and drama that unexpected happenings bring to a story.
One nice thing about setting up our gal as a lesbian from the get-go is that the attractive boy she meets along her quest isn't a romantic factor. Instead he's just a friend. It mildly annoys me that he's still clearly gorgeous, special and affluent as though he was going to be a romantic interest; but then again I suppose that is just the formula of YA novels so I'll allow it.
I do like that Wells keeps the devotion and love of the lead gal for her girlfriend throughout. We often see our lead gal drawing strength from remembering why she is doing things and persevering because of the loving bond she has with her girlfriend. The devotion towards a lover is a wonderful change from many others YA books. It also (so far) ensures there is no love triangle! Always a plus in my books.
Shatter the Sky is oddly written in that the beginning (minus chapter 1) is weaker than the end. Usually debut authors end up putting too much time into the beginning of a book and their endings suffer because of it. However Wells has a great ending. The writing style, pace and action all make the closure to this book really positive. However be aware, it is a series and there is a major cliffhanger.
I wouldn't be opposed to reading book 2 in Shatter the Sky series; but I doubt I'll go out of my way to get it. I'm interested to see what happens; but not dying to know. I'm also concerned that the convenient plot points will continue and the lack of dragon lore both items which are sure to annoy me if carried forward. But if Wells can capture the success of the ending of book 1 and build from it then book 2 would definitely be worth adding to the 'to be read' shelf.
All that said, for a debut YA novel, this is a decent read. I wouldn't discourage anyone whose interested in the premise from reading it; but it doesn't make my recommendations list either. Wells may be an author to watch in the future however as she is signed to Simon Schuster. There could be some great potential for her if she matures her plots and can replicate the narration pace of the end of the story throughout her future stories.
Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.
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