Author: Adrienne Woods
Publisher: Fire Quill Publishing
Format: eBook – NetGalley
Release Date: September 19th, 2014
Rating: 1.5 out of 5 Stars
~ Goodreads Synopsis ~
Dragons. Right. Teenage girls don’t believe in fairy tales, and sixteen-year old Elena Watkins was no different.
Until the night a fairy tale killed her father.
Now Elena’s in a new world, and a new school. The cutest guy around may be an evil dragon, a Prince wants Elena’s heart, and a long dead sorcerer may be waking up to kill her. Oh. And the only way Elena’s going to graduate is on the back of a dragon of her own.
Teenage girls don’t believe in fairy tales. Now it’s time for Elena to believe – in herself.
~ ~ ~ ~
Today I am bringing you a review of a book I am excited to talk about – but not for good reasons.
Firebolt is the first book I am reading from NetGalley, so I would like to thank them as well as the publishers for the chance to read this. However, it was so incredibly problematic that it made the story almost unbearable. When I say problematic, I do not mean grammar issues or anything of the sort, but I mean that this book is filled with such harmful tropes that I cannot stand it.
In the beginning I really liked the book, it was alright and I was so interested. The plot sounded great, and it was about dragons and a boarding school in a parallel land, like that is awesome. The execution of this story was just not what it should have been. I feel bad for talking about a book this way because not all books are for everyone and I understand the time and trouble it takes to create a book, but I will explain.
Once our main character, Elena, learns of dragons and Paegeia, she is brought to a school there to learn how to be the dragonian she was born to be. When she arrives, she is so ridiculously boy-crazy, along with all the other girls who have lived there their whole lives. I get it in the first couple chapters – they’re gorgeous dragon boys that she has never seen before – but after so long it was just wayyy too much. It was like every time a boy breathed around her she was thinking “Crap, he’s so hot” *an actual quote from the book.* I began to highlight all the sentences that really blew my gasket, so I shall share some with you:
“I just didn’t like my flat ass. I wanted it to be plumper.”
Do I even need to explain what is wrong with this quote? Elena was trying on dresses and thought this of herself. For young girls reading this book, this is just enforcing body images. Authors are supposed to make lessons for readers, not projections of harmful expectations.
“Some even threatened her about what they’d do if she claimed George.”
The author never failed to pit girls against each other in this book, either. Every time one the three main girls even looked at one of the boys, the girls would threatened the three and glare at them. Don’t even get me started on Arianna.
“Hot flushes washed over my body as I struggled to keep my eyes off of him. I wondered how I’d ended up with a guy like him.”
And we’re back with the low self-esteem trope that is far too common in YA and again, does not send a good image to young readers. And we’re also back with the boy-crazed main character.
“an urge to start painting again developed inside my gut. I used to be good at it…”
Ok, this one is random, and it’s not a trope, but, this is the one and only time, I believe, that Elena’s painting is referenced in this book and it made me a little confused.
“Which made him blush with a super cute smile.”
Show, don’t tell please. Another common thing in this book.
“He wasn’t oriental, as I imagined he would be…”
His name was Cheng. And, as if the book isn’t already diverse, the author had to point out the fact that the book was not diverse.
“his upper lip curling up. it made him look extra hot, and I could hear a couple of girls nearby sighing.”
Please tell me why every single girl in Paegeia is annoyingly boy-crazed, while the guys are relatively unphased by the girls and actually do well in everything.
“You’re just a girl who knows nothing. You’ll never understand.”
This book was written by a girl, right? I understand that the sexist theme is powerful, but only when the girls actually do something to show they are strong and not held down by misogyny. Here, Elena does absolutely nothing, and it was her own boyfriend that said this to her.
Ok, so I’m done with the quotes, but those are the ones that bothered me the most from Firebolt. In all, I have to say I was very disappointed. I actually skimmed through the last few pages just because I was so uninterested by that point, and those are supposed to be the most exciting pages.
The tropes of this book entirely ruined the story for me, and I really wanted to like it. The characters were also super one-dimensional, and just symbolized all the “classic” characters of a teenage drama. And, can we not forget Elena’s cringy catchphrase (the worst I have ever read), “for the love of blueberries.” What blueberries?!
For me, a two-star rating was a little generous. If I weren’t reading this for a review on NetGalley, I would not have finished it.
Let me know what you thought of the book if you read it, or just rant with me in the comments about books with similar tropes.
Thank you for reading!