*I received an ARC of this title from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*
Title: Before She Ignites
Author: Jodi Meadows
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: September 12, 2017
Mira Minkoba is the Hopebearer. Since the day she was born, she’s been told she’s special. Important. Perfect. She’s known across the Fallen Isles not just for her beauty, but for the Mira Treaty named after her, a peace agreement which united the seven islands against their enemies on the mainland.
But Mira has never felt as perfect as everyone says. She counts compulsively. She struggles with crippling anxiety. And she’s far too interested in dragons for a girl of her station.
Then Mira discovers an explosive secret that challenges everything she and the Treaty stand for. Betrayed by the very people she spent her life serving, Mira is sentenced to the Pit–the deadliest prison in the Fallen Isles. There, a cruel guard would do anything to discover the secret she would die to protect.
No longer beholden to those who betrayed her, Mira must learn to survive on her own and unearth the dark truths about the Fallen Isles–and herself–before her very world begins to collapse.
Review: After first starting this book I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy it because it kept going back and forth between the present and before, but once the plot started picking up, I found myself really enjoying the context provided between chapters. Now, I’m still having mixed feelings over Mira’s character because she seemed so helpless and so concerned about her looks, but she really did grow throughout the book. She learned how to become a survivor, but I guess that’s pretty much a given when you’re thrown into the Pit.
One aspect to this book I was not expecting was Mira’s anxiety. This shatters her image of perfection making her have this kind of flawed beauty. It balances well with her proposed outer beauty because inside she is simply an insecure teenage girl struggling through every day, on the verge of panic attacks and compulsively counting things to keep them at bay. The anxiety ended up being about something greater than Mira in the end, too, and I love that it ties into the actual plot rather than being a useless subplot.
I really loved the world that Jodi Meadows created for this book. The mythology behind everything was well thought out and I wish it was explored more. I would have loved to hear more about the Fallen Gods and the island culture, as well as the dragons. There weren’t as many dragons as I had hoped, but it was exciting to read about the different species and what they can do. I was devastated to find out that they were being taken from the sanctuary and smuggled to a foreign empire though! It was so unexpected and I hope to see where the sequel will go. Crossing my fingers for more fire-breathing mythical beasts!
Jodi Meadows also deals with a lot of important messages in this book as well, which was surprising. The basis of the plot deals with the Mira Treaty and how it supposedly keeps the islands at peace and the dragons protected. What Mira discovers, though, is that the entire treaty is a cover for something else and that the Luminary Council (her island’s political leaders) as well as leaders from the other islands are suddenly not who she thought they were. The themes of class status and questions of equality are also prevalent as well.
If you’re looking for a read that deals with political intrigue, dragons, friendship, and anxiety, then look no further.