Series: Heartstrikers #2
Also by this author: Nice Dragons Finish Last
Published by Audible Studios on October 13th 2015
Length: 18 hours 9 minutes
After barely escaping the machinations of his terrifying mother, two all knowing seers, and countless bloodthirsty siblings, the last thing Julius wants to see is another dragon. Unfortunately for him, the only thing more dangerous than being a useless Heartstriker is being a useful one, and now that he’s got an in with the Three Sisters, Julius has become a key pawn in Bethesda the Heartstriker’s gamble to put her clan on top.
Refusal to play along with his mother’s plans means death, but there’s more going on than even Bethesda knows, and with Estella back in the game with a vengeance, Heartstriker futures disappearing, and Algonquin’s dragon hunter closing in, the stakes are higher than even a seer can calculate. But when his most powerful family members start dropping like flies, it falls to Julius to defend the clan that never respected him and prove that, sometimes, the world’s worst dragon is the best one to have on your side.
What can I say? I really hoped to love this one as many of my trusted blogger friends did. And while I did enjoy it over all I definitely did not love it. I have had a hard time deciding exactly why that is, and it may just come down to I find Julius a bit boring and I got a little sick of the whole “nice dragon” thing. While things get “hard” for him during the book, I feel like the solutions almost seem to come easy or conveniently. I have always preferred dark books with troubled protagonists, so really maybe the biggest surprise should be how much I enjoyed the first. Now, that doesn’t mean I never like nice characters, I just am way more interested in the ones that have shades of grey to them. Perhaps the first book just worked better for me because everything was new and fresh. Since much of that has already been established by the time you get to book 2, I just didn’t have as much to learn about the world in this book and then too much of my enjoyment was reliant on the characters and plot. The plot was good! But the resolution is something I can have a harder time with.
I am having a difficult time determining how to best write this review, because I feel like my chief complaint is actually a feature of the book and not really a fault. It comes down to reading and character preferences. Or maybe I was just crabby when I was listening to it (I don’t really think that’s the case, and ultimately it doesn’t matter, because my reaction is what it is)
While there are some very interesting aspects to the world, I honestly think it is the characters and their relationships that don’t work as well for me. I think so many of them almost feel simple, like caricatures, which leaves me feeling disconnected. This type of story telling and character presentation can work very well for many readers, so I don’t even want to fault it for that. But if you are like me, and generally not interested in fairy tale style stories, it may not work quite as well for you. (I feel I need to add a disclaimer, there are some stories I’ve read that have a real fairy tale aspect to them that I have enjoyed, but typically it is the dark and twisted fairy tales that work for me).
Now, don’t take my initial negativity as a sign that all is wrong with this book. I still love Marci. She has a wonderful personality and we also get to learn a lot more about Ghost (her spirit cat) in this book. I am always a fan of cat characters for some reason. They are usually so full of attitude, it’s just hard not love them. So getting more details on Ghost was certainly very interesting. There’s definitely more to that cat than you realized and I would be interested to see how that may impact future story lines.
While I find myself rather indifferent to Julius’ brothers, I may have been a bit more interested in his sister Amelia. Being an ‘A’ name, that means she is one of Bethesda’s oldest children. Her and Marci actually find some common ground, so since I really enjoy Marci, I have to admit, that worked in Amelia’s favor. Plus, she is pretty kick ass all on her own. Very old, powerful dragon that has some tricks up her sleeve.
Overall, I think if you enjoyed book 1, definitely give this one a try. From what I have seen, my reaction is more negative than most of the others I know that have read it.
Audiobook Note: Once again, I felt like Vikas Adams did a good job overall. However, there are still some character voices that continued to irk me a bit. Bob in particular felt over the top/exaggerated. Perhaps it is a fare representation of the character himself, but either way, it did not work in the books favor for me. Luckily there was not much time spent on that character, so it really didn’t impact my listening experience too much. And there is always the benefit of being very easy to identify a character based on what they sound like.