Monday, March 16, 2015

Review + Giveaway: Shadow Scale

SHADOW SCALE
Seraphina #2
Rachel Hartman
Young Adult/Fantasy
608 pages
Random House
Available Now
Source: ARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
The kingdom of Goredd: a world where humans and dragons share life with an uneasy balance, and those few who are both human and dragon must hide the truth. Seraphina is one of these, part girl, part dragon, who is reluctantly drawn into the politics of her world. When war breaks out between the dragons and humans, she must travel the lands to find those like herself—for she has an inexplicable connection to all of them, and together they will be able to fight the dragons in powerful, magical ways.

As Seraphina gathers this motley crew, she is pursued by humans who want to stop her. But the most terrifying is another half dragon, who can creep into people’s minds and take them over. Until now, Seraphina has kept her mind safe from intruders, but that also means she’s held back her own gift. It is time to make a choice: Cling to the safety of her old life, or embrace a powerful new destiny?


MY THOUGHTS
In this much-anticipated follow up to 2012’s Seraphina, Ms. Hartman flexes her extraordinary world-building muscles once again, surrounding us with rich foreign lands and enveloping us in the warmth of beautifully nuanced characters. We’re given considerable time to admire the skill of every stitch making up the tapestry of this dragon-filled world given this book's 600 page length, and though we sit in awe at the attention to detail, it does make for a slow read at times. The first half in particular is a touch tedious as Seraphina sets out to track down her fellow half-dragons, the hundreds of pages detailing her search and interactions with those she finds making us wonder if perhaps this section of the story could have been streamlined in a few places.

Though the sheer vastness of this world is responsible for much of the slower pacing in the first half, Seraphina herself also keeps us from settling in fully, the tension that came with her having to hide who she is now gone as she lives in the open, but it takes her until nearly the end to actually embrace the totality of who she is. She shows very few signs along the way of making progress toward dismantling the walls in her mind she set up so long ago (to be fair, it takes a while before she fully understands this is a necessary course of action), instead relatively content to leave things as they are even when she realizes she’s missing the mind-fire that’s so much a part of the other half-dragons.

Despite her seeming lack of growth and progress until the very end however, Seraphina is still someone with whom it’s easy to spend time, her various relationships with the half-dragons she locates fun to watch unfold given how distinct and unique each one is. Her friendship with Abdo is the main highlight however, their banter something we can cling to and use as an anchor as we’re swept from one city to the next.

The villain of this story is another highlight, Jannoula spectacularly infuriating in the subtlety of her villainy, able to appear vulnerable and utterly guileless one minute before showing her true colors the next. She’s the type of bad that masquerades as good, using the faith of those she seeks to rule as a stepping stone onto the pedestal she’s convinced herself she deserves, claiming divinity and then proving to be exceptionally convincing in that claim. Once Jannoula’s endgame becomes known in the second half, the pages start turning with far more speed than they did in the beginning, and while things wrap up a touch faster than we might expect given the length of the build up, our time with Seraphina ends with nothing but hope for her future and that of those closest to her.

Rating: 3.5/5


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This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

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GIVEAWAY

Thanks to the amazingly generous team at Penguin Random House, I have one copy of Shadow Scale to give away on the blog today! To enter, please fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Giveaway is open to US/Canada.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

37 comments:

  1. How to Train Your Dragon, both movies and book series are pretty cool

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  2. Your rating of this one, Jenny, appears very similar to mine. I really enjoyed the worldbuilding but struggled with the slow pacing at times.

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  3. I would have to agree with alena, and say How to Train Your Dragon :)

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  4. It sunds like nice sequel. I remember all the nice reviews of the first book and I confess that I'm curious to try because of the interesting topic.

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  5. I am hoping the library gets it as they have book 1 *fingers crossed*

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  6. I really liked Talon by Julie Kagawa

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  7. I have to say Talon by Julie Kagawa as well! One of my more recent dragon reads at least! Loved it! Movie wise, definitely How to Train Your Dragon!

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  8. I can't believe I haven't tried this series yet, I so need to Jenny because, hello dragons! :P
    I haven't read very many dragon books or even watched very many dragon movies sadly unless the dragons in the H.P. series count?

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  9. Hmm... I think I would be super frustrated with the lack of character growth, especially since this does seem like a lengthy book. I'm glad there were still elements to the plot you enjoyed, Jenny. Maybe one day I'll give this a shot.
    Lovely review!

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  10. I'm glad to know that I wasn't the only one who struggled with this book at times Jenny. And oh my gosh don't get me started on Jannoula's character she made me so mad! But Seraphina's interactions with Abdo certainly made up for it! Lovely review as always! :)

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  11. I'm glad you enjoyed the world building and spending more time with Seraphina. I love Dragons, so this is a must read series for me. It sounds like the pace was something of a challenge, so I'll keep that in mind.
    Thanks Jenny for the lovely review and chance to win this gorgeous book :)

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  12. I am shelving this one for now. I finally read Seraphina and I enjoyed it but I wasn't over the moon over it. I think this one with its slow pace and 600 pages won't work for me right now. Thanks for the review.

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  13. I definitely agree with your assessment that the second-half picks up significantly and though I enjoyed this immensely, there were also aspects of it that made it pale in comparison to Hartman's debut for me. Still, I can't wait to read anything else this author chooses to write and I adore your review, Jenny! :)

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  14. I agree, I love Seraphina's relationship with Abdo. He's definitely my favorite half-dragon. :-) And Jannoula made me absolutely furious. I really enjoyed this and am quite bummed to have to say goodbye to Seraphina and her friends, but like you I have hope for their future. Lovely review!

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  15. Argh! If only I lived in the US or Canada... It seems a lot of people have struggled with the pacing - interesting. Now I'm even more curious to read it. But I loved Seraphina, so chances are I'll love this one too.

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  16. I enjoyed this one more than the first. I think I heard so much about the first book that it was almost overblown to me and this one was more like new territory. I'm glad you enjoyed in the end!

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  17. I didn't think I did like dragon books or movies and then I read Seraphina. (I would have like How to Train Your Dragon - it was cute and well-made, but I cannot stand Jay Baruschel's voice. It is irrational, I know, but I can't listen to it.) Seraphina was amazing and I can't wait to read more set it her world.

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  18. Eragon is definitely a favorite.

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  19. My favorite dragon related book is His Majesty's Dragon: A Novel of Temeraire by Naomi Novik.

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  20. this looks and sounds like a lot of fun! I really liked Dragonheart with Dennis Quaid. Thanks for sharing!

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  21. Lovely review! I have yet to read this series but you certainly have me intrigued. Thanks so much for the giveaway!

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  22. Favorite dragon related book is Eragon of course :D Seraphina is in the top handful, of course. (I really haven't read that many dragon books).

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  23. I have book one but keep taking it out, looking at it and picking something else. I am just not sure Jenny. Wonderful review :)

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  24. The Inheritance Cycle, for sure!

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  25. Very glad to hear that the pacing picks up on the second half of the book, because I hit a point that was irritating me a bit, but I'm looking forward to get back to reading it again now!
    Great review Jenny!

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  26. Thanks for the heads up on the slow pacing, which seems to be most people's complaint about the book. Still looking forward to reading this one.

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  27. I go for the classics; I'm a huge Anne McCaffrey fan. But Seraphina is close to the top!

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  28. I'm serious when I say this, but..
    How to Train Your Dragon.

    Hiccup and Toothless are my favorite dragon and human pair!

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  29. I loved Seraphina the first book of this series but I also really enjoyed Jo Walton's Tooth and Claw. Victorian dragons who eat their family at the funeral. What's not to love?

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  30. I loved Seraphina the first book of this series but I also really enjoyed Jo Walton's Tooth and Claw. Victorian dragons who eat their family at the funeral. What's not to love?

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  31. I don't think I have a favorite. I've never read a book with dragons in it.

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  32. Quite willing to discover another great series of wonder.

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  33. I'm gonna have to go with how to train your dragon or eragon

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  34. I'd say Eragon...it's absolutely fantastic. Of course, when I was young I had an obsession with dragons.

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