Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Received: book tour
Genres & themes: YA, dragons, shapeshifters, friendship, family, drama, magic, teen romance, boarding school.
Finding out on your sixteenth birthday you’re a shape-shifting dragon is tough to swallow. Being hauled off to an elite boarding school is enough to choke on.
Since Bryn is the only crossbreed at the Institute for Excellence, all eyes are on her, but it’s a particular black dragon, Zavien, who catches her attention.
Zavien is tired of the Council’s rules. Segregated clans, being told who to love, and close-minded leaders make freedom of choice almost impossible. The new girl with the striped hair is a breath of fresh air, and with Bryn’s help, they may be able to change the rules.
At the Institute, old grudges, new crushes, and death threats are all part of a normal day for Bryn. She’ll need to learn to control her dragon powers if she wants to make it through her first year at school. But even focusing on staying alive is difficult when you’re falling for someone you can't have.
Going Down in Flames was a pretty surprising read and I enjoyed it more than I expected. I’m usually not that into shapeshifters, as I said in my review of Dead Witch Walking, but I never read a book with dragons before, of what I recall, and I thought it’d be interesting to try one.
And it truly was!
The world building Chris Cannon created is detailed and elaborated. It’s obvious that she worked hard on it and made some research to gain some new inspiration and ideas. I respect that and I admire how gracefully she left some descriptions here and there about dragons, how they behave, how they live, their magic, etc. Because, yes, they do have magic. There are 4 different classes of dragons; red, black, green and blue ones. The black dragons are the most interesting and ''rebel'' of the four and Zavien is one of them. Our heroine, named Bryn, is a crossbred between a blue and a red dragon. Which means she can control fire AND ice and some other things that I’ll let you discover.
While the world building was well done, I hated the main character, Bryn. She’s sixteen but acted like a twelve years old one. Multiple times in the book people told her to stop acting like a 5 years old girl so I believe I am pretty generous by saying twelve. She’s simply immature, impulsive, doesn’t know when and can't shut her mouth, disrespectful and swears so so much. I have no problem with adults swear but I can’t help but cringe my teeth when teenagers do so, except in M/M romances (exceptions can apply.)
The writing was great. It was fluent and very pleasant to read. Even if Going Down in Flames has 400 pages, it never felt like it did. It’s the kind of light book you read to entertain yourself and don’t even realize you just read 100 pages because you were into the story and had fun reading it. I know it says ''revolution'' but it doesn’t actually apply as a ''heavy subject'' to the book. It’s important and kind of serious by moments, of course, but it’s not as serious as you may think. Bryn and some other people want to start one in purpose of changing some rules but Going Down in Flames feels more like the ''step one'' to it and, no, there is no war (yet?).
I talked a lot about Zavien because he is yummy. I always was into manga characters (because of their charm principally) so, when the author made that description, I knew I would like him, and I did! I wanted him to be more ''bad'' and rebel because I guess it would have suited his physics better but that’s just me having a ''bad boys in books'' adoration (or craziness?) right now. BUT, I did like him still.
Another thing I also didn’t appreciate that much in the book, again regarding the main character, is Zavien being her love interest. Not because I want him to be mine *coughs* *coughs* but especially for the reason that he is nineteen and mature and Bryn is sixteen and immature. It doesn’t feel like they're meant for each other in my opinion. Maybe you will think otherwise, I hope so at least.
Again, Chris Cannon thought about a lot of things while writing her book. She didn’t forget to include funny and endearing secondary characters, a lot of enemies so it actually confuses you when there is something bad happening to the heroine, because you don’t know anymore who did it, and different settings. I first thought the whole book was going to take place at the boarding school for dragon shape shifters but many events are happening and they don’t all take place there. It's the main setting, without doubt, but it's not boring or dull at all.
This is definitely a book I would recommend. Even if you mind whiny and annoying main characters, as I do, I think you'll still like it (at least a bit.) I know that if Bryn was acting differently and not like everything revolves around her (which is a little bit true but still…) and was more mature, I would have given this book 4 stars without hesitation.
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