When I visited a bookstore and asked for a recommendation from a staff member, this was one of the many they gave me. I had forgotten about it completely until another person recommended it to me. Figuring I had little to lose, I got it. And I was not disappointed.
Warning! Minor spoilers ahead, but spoilers they are.
You have been warned.
The kingdom of Goredd and the dragons have not fought for forty years after a truce between their people was signed. But humans are untrusting of the dragons, and conflict between the two species continues to brew. And Seraphina, who bears the nickname Phina, finds herself in the middle of it. Half dragon, she is considered an abomination by both dragons and humans. Working to solve the mystery of a price's death, Phina learns that there is more at stake than she originally believed.
And...no more spoilers! Phew!
In her New York Times bestselling and Morris Award-winning debut, Rachel Hartman introduces mathematical dragons in an alternative-medieval world to fantasy and science-fiction readers of all ages. Eragon-author Christopher Paolini calls them, "Some of the most interesting dragons I've read in fantasy."
Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty's anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.
Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen's Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.
I love a good romance novel just as much as the next person, but sometimes I get sick of how YA always seems to mean romance. I'm always looking for YA books with strong plots that don't revolve around a relationship or the conflicts the relationship creates, so SERAPHINA got major points for that. I feel the need for there to be more books like this one, and if you know of a good YA book like that, PLEASE send the title my way.
The first thing I am going to address is the plot. SERAPHINA has an intricate plot, but it doesn't feel cumbersome. Sometimes books with complex plots can be hard to follow (especially if you are reading it whenever you catch little snippets of time), and I was pleased that SERAPHINA did not find itself in that group. The ending genuinely surprised me, something that does not often happen. Many of today's books follow the same plot recipe, and once you read enough books, it can be difficult to find a book that falls outside of that recipe. I can't say SERAPHINA uses a completely different blueprint, but Hartman puts her own twist on it, effectively concocting incredible plot twists.
Another thing I enjoyed about SERAPHINA was the incredible world building. The dragons' richly crafted society made story that much better. It helps to root the reader in Phina's world and understand the conflict on a deeper level.
I found the characters to be well-developed. I love the dragons, especially Phina's uncle Orma.
Most of the characters' relationships in SERAPHINA are well-developed. I did feel that Phina's relationship with Abdo required a little bit more development. It seemed sudden and a tad unrealistic, but isn't too big of a flaw considering how awesome SERAPHINA is.
My copy of SERAPHINA came with a glossary and character list. I believe they are included in every copy of the book, but my copy has other extras. The glossary and character list are extremely helpful if you use them. I would recommend skimming the glossary before reading the book.
An excellent book, SERAPHINA deserves every bit of praise I've given it and then a little more. If you are looking for a good YA book, read it! If you need more encouragement, just check my "Awesome Book" page. After reading this, I felt the need to add it there. Yes, it's that good.