Shatter the Sky

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 30 Jul 2019

Member Reviews

This was not at all what I expected but in a good way. It focuses more on the characters and world-building than the actual dragons aspect -  I look forward to the sequel!
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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. 

The Ending
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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Shatter the Sky by Rebecca Kim Wells | a dragon adventure with a I was so excited about reading Shatter the Sky. I mean, dragons? With a bisexual protagonist on a frantic mission to get back her girlfriend? And while a lot of what I was hoping for delivered as promised, there were a lot of parts that made the book a lot slower than I would have liked.

In general, I liked Maren and her narration; she’s enjoyable to read about, with a streak of determination a mile wide. Yet she’s also your typical Chosen One, despite the attempt Shatter the Sky makes to subvert the trope. Everything works out very well for Maren and her abilities precisely because she is the Chosen One, which is all good, but a lot of Maren’t storyline felt quite unrealistic for me.

Another thing that I wasn’t fond of was, despite the whole plot being Maren aiming to take back her girlfriend, the set-up between Sev and Maren. To me, it seemed to come out of left field, something very odd for a protagonist whose main motivation was to rescue Kaia from the Aurati, and who initially sees meeting Sev as more of a means to that end. Of course, I’m thrilled by the bi rep. But I was really looking forwards to an f/f book, and to have Kaia be in so little of the book was a bit of a letdown for me, and I definitely wanted more depth to their relationship–as well as all of Maren’s relationships.

I did find the worldbuilding quite fascinating, and it was definitely one of the strongest parts of the story. The magic system was not at all typical for fantasy, which I appreciated. I was really into learning about the Aromatory and the Aurati.

The pacing, however, was probably my biggest problem with the book, especially once it hit the fortress–it really started to drag, and I couldn’t keep interested afterwards. There was so much of the world I wanted to see that interested me – the dragons, the Aurati, the dynamics between the main empire and Maren’s hometown – but ultimately it wasn’t explored as much as I would have liked.

Even though this book may not have been my particular cup of tea, it’s still definitely worth a read. If you’re looking for some good bi rep, or if you’re a particular fan of dragon fantasy, go ahead and check it out!slow pace
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It took me a little while to really get into this book.  I had trouble connecting with the characters and didn’t really care what happened to them, well we really only have one to deal with, Maren.  We meet her girlfriend, Kaia, but she disappears quickly (don’t fret, we’ll see her again).  It wasn’t until the 40% mark that I started to enjoy the book.  That’s about where Sev and the dragons come in and the pace picks up.
It reminded be a lot of Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau-Preto.  Although all they really have in common is a girl on an adventure and mythical creatures.
I loved how the story used scents to control the dragons and music helps Maren communicate with the dragons.  What a unique twist on the traditional telepathy with your mystical creature.  
ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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DNF @ ~20%

My issue with the book wasn't any one thing in particular, it's just that the writing feels a lot more suited for readers who are younger than me, and I had a hard time connecting with the story. It's a fine, light read with likeable characters. Just not for me right now.
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The main character Maren is impulsive and strong willed. Her determination to save her girlfriend no matter how slim the chances of success was admirable, if a little reckless. As a result, she makes some questionable decisions like leaving on her own without a real plan. She probably would have died several times without some help. From the start I wasnt a big fan of the power imbalance in her relationship. Maren idolized her girlfriend and would do anything for her while her girlfriend didn't seem willing to do the same. Setting out on her own teaches Maren some independence and makes her realize that shes a lot braver than she gave herself credit for. This character growth changes the dynamic between them, but its still doesnt feel like they mesh well. I believe the relationship is being set up to fail. At least I enjoyed Marens relationship with her parents even though we only see them for a short amount of time.

I had such high hopes for this book, but for something pitched as sapphic it felt pretty hetero to me. The plot centers around the main characters journey to save her girlfriend by stealing one of the emperor's dragons, but the story is mostly spent with a boy who she starts to develop feelings for. I really liked Sev as a character and probably would have been all for their romance under different circumstances, but I feel like it would have worked better as a platonic relationship in this situation. On top of the romance being a let down, the plot wasnt very memorable. I found it predictable and even a little unrealistic at times. The whole prophecy was super obvious, but I did find Marens dreams of her girlfriend exciting. I also feel like the pacing wasnt that great either, especially in the middle. The danger of infiltrating the dragon fortress wasnt as tense as it should have been.

This world only has a little bit of magic so it should be easy to grasp for anyone who doesnt read much fantasy. Besides the dragons, there are some people known as Auratis who have clairvoyant abilities and deliver prophecies across the kingdom. These are the same people Maren needs to rescue her girlfriend from and they have the emperors protection since they answer to him. We get to spend time in some awesome settings like Marens mountain village, the haunted caves, and the dragon fortress. I loved the dragons and the use of aromatherapy to train them. Its a unique twists I havent seen before. The formulas of the scented oils is one of the emperors most closely guarded secret as he want to keep sole control over the dragons. We get to spend some time with an adorable baby dragon, but with it being so young we dont really get to see it talk with Maren. Im seriously hoping we get some communication and more dragon bonding in the next book.

We do get some anti-colonization themes with Marens people having been conquered and their dragons taken away. The theme becomes a bigger focus as the story develops into more than just saving Marens girlfriend, but stopping the power hungry emperor and hopefully liberating the nations under his control. I loved all the diversity with the main character being a bi girl of color and how being queer seems like its completely accepted in this world. Despite my issues, this still had some of my favorite elements like dragons and queer characters so I did end up enjoying it. I just really wish the romance would have been handled differently or at the very least have the summary mention Sev. Now that I know what to expect I think I might enjoy the rest of the series a bit more. I just personally expected something different from this book since Ive seen plenty of glowing reviews.

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Thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for the eARC!

Maren is seventeen years old and ready to strike out on her own. Well, not exactly on her own. She has a girlfriend, aka a heartmate, Kaia, who is the more adventurous of the pair. They are head-over-heels in love for one another—but when an elite group of Aurati, women who do dirty work for the repressive Emperor, show up and abduct Kaia for purposes unknown, those roles have to change. Maren leaves the village she’s known for her whole life and gets a job at the nearby dragon fortress, the only place in the world that can rear and train dragons for the Emperor’s elite Talon force. Maren’s plan is simple: steal a dragon, rescue Kaia. What could possibly go wrong?

A lot, as it turns out, and of course that’s the beauty of Shatter the Sky. The narrative twists and turns, and just when you think you’ve figured out every possible ending, something else happens. There are certainly moments that feel predictable, but one thing I can’t accuse this book of being is boring.

Shatter the Sky reminds me of another fantasy book I recently read, Smoke & Summons . Both books create fantasy worlds that are new and different from what I’ve seen in a while. I would love to spend more time in these novels’ worlds, learning about the cultures and histories and goings-on. Both books have interesting female protagonists (I’m trying to avoid the nebulously cliche “strong”), although they have extremely different upbringings, and Maren at least has a bit more initiative. Mostly, though, both books have similar issues in terms of pacing. I compared Smoke & Summons to a Doctor Who story, and the same critique works here.

This feels like it should be more than one book (despite it not being that long as it is). Earlier I praised how Wells introduces new twists all the time, and I do like it, but some of the twists come too late to be as effective as I’d like. This is particularly true at the climax, where we essentially get a new antagonist, only for Maren to dispatch them a few pages later.

I want to interrupt my own critique at this point, though, because I do have to praise the climax and how Maren decides to deal with what is essentially a hostage situation. True to its title, this book is the equivalent of “Fuck it, let them all burn,” and in a much more satisfying way than that Game of Thrones episode, if you know what I mean. I’m very happy this is the ending Wells gives us rather than something a lot more complicated.

Anyway, back to my critique: this book is somewhat untidy. It’s an example of the difference between an entertaining, satisfying story from a competent writer and a grand slam of an experience from a grandmaster of a genre: the former is good, and I’ll definitely read it, but the latter is one or more strata above. Shatter the Sky is a satisfying, fun story about a woman trying to rescue her love. When it delves into deeper issues of oppression and politics, it never quite manages to make those work organically within the narrative.

As far as the romantic elements go … meh? I love Maren’s character development. She starts off somewhat withdrawn, whereas Kaia is the bold one. Their roles kind of reverse. Kaia’s experience dampens her spirit, for now, whereas Maren has awakened to a strength and fire within herself that she hadn’t even suspected existed. Nevertheless, the relationship itself is nothing to write home about. And there’s some weird moments mid-way through the book where Maren might be attracted to someone else, and it’s kind of awkward? In other words, for all its romantic inciting forces, this book is not itself much of a romance.

Shatter the Sky is probably the type of book some people have been waiting for: a story where the damsel in distress is being rescued by another woman, who plans to do it on the back of a dragon. That is, objectively, badass. It’s a fairly well-written book with a window on a world that is intriguing enough that I want to know more. That being said, it’s still very much a debut fantasy novel, rough around the edges and with that gooey centre that is delicious perhaps because it wasn’t baked quite long enough.

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Typicall YA with the goods and bads of this genre. It also made me realize I should be more carefull and pickfull about the book I choose to ask!
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I like this book a lot  i alway enjoy a good dragon story and this one was good 
Can wait to read the next one !
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