SPOILER ALERT!

Dragons Chosen

The Dragons' Chosen - Gwen Dandridge

I received a free copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review.

 

Formatting: I originally opened the file on my computer in Calibre to view before sideloading it on to my tablet. It showed up with no major issues. The formatting wasn't pretty, but it was readable. The only possible issue that I could see was that the page numbers were included in the text, which doesn't really work if you're reading a reflowable format. Once I loaded the book onto my tablet, I opened it in the Kindle reading app. The book was unreadable. There were no spaces between words, in some spots letters were stacked on top of other letters, and punctuation floated all over the screen. Since this was a mobi file, I was a little disappointed that I couldn't read it in the Kindle app. I was however, able to read the book in the Moon+ app after checking "disable all css". Unfortunately, if you "disable all css", the spaces between paragraphs  disappear and you lose the indents that mark the beginning of a new paragraph. It is possible to increase spacing between paragraphs within the app, but I prefer to not waste too much time messing around with settings and to just read. I did not check the book with any other apps, so it might have been readable with Coolreader or any other app, but I can't say so with any certainty. The issues with formatting were most likely a result of converting from a Word document or pdf, however, I will emphasize that this was a review copy. I received the copy directly from the author before the book was published; any or all formatting issues may have been fixed before release. If you're interested in reading this book and my comments about the formatting have made you hesitate, I would suggest downloading a sample to view on your reading device before purchasing. Once again, the issues with formatting may have been isolated to this file.

 

Story: I was initially really excited about receiving a copy of this ebook. The summary was very promising; it had me picturing two strong female protagonists on a quest to defeat a dragon or uncover a horrible plot to overthrow kingdoms in some far away land. What's not to like? In short, the summary, while accurate, left me some want disappointed in the story I did read.

 

There seems to be a pattern in YA fiction of writing strong female characters, not by actually make them strong, smart, brave and/or determined, but by making every other character less so. I knew there was going to be trouble before I got past page 25. Every female character, but Genevieve and Chris screeched, tittered, fainted, asked inappropriate fashion questions in times of great distress, worried about their honor and just showed an alarming lack of awareness/interest in what was actually going on around them. I am not a fan of the whole hysterical, air-headed woman trope; it needs to die a horrible, painful death, not be glorified in YA fiction targeted towards teens. Trust me, they get enough of that in the real world. Yes, there are people like that out there, both male and female, but every female character that is not the protagonist should not be behaving in that manner. It's called diversity, and there's a lot of it out in the real world. The story easily suffers from the lack of it too, the background characters are just there as set dressing and it shows. I couldn't tell you any of the other characters names without opening the book again, they're completely interchangeable. The guards that journey with Genevieve could just have easily been named Guard 1, 2, 3, etc

 

The story starts out with Genevieve learning she has been chosen for the next sacrifice to the dragons for this century. And there's a remarkable lack of reaction or even action from almost everybody around her. There's a bunch of whispering about her, one of her handmaids asks her what color dress she should wear for dinner that night and then everybody just continues on with their lives. So why does Genevieve feel the need to console everybody, honestly nobody seems that upset. In fact, her designated role the first half of the book seems to be apologizing or reassuring everybody she interacts with. The woman is about to be eaten by a bunch of dragons and she's apologizing to everybody!? Nobody seems all that concerned about her, Genevieve keeps telling us how everybody is upset, but we never actually see any of the background characters show express this concern. Nobody asks how she's doing, if they can do anything for her, or even offers up suggestions for a way to stop the sacrifice. Instead, they wait until Genny (hate the nickname by the way) is about to leave for the sacrifice to tell her, "you can figure a way out of this." Thanks. You know what would have been really helpful; somebody offering up suggestions, a sword, or doing some kind of research. Where's Hermione Granger when you need her?

 

Which brings us to Chris, she pretty much drives the plot. If she hadn't included in the story Genevieve would have simply gone off to the sacrifice without a moments hesitation. Genevieve very much reminds me of Bella/Katniss, very passive. The only reason she looks so active is because she's surrounded by a bunch of people who don't DO anything. Then suddenly, half way through the book Genevieve seems to swap personalities with Chris. After spending the first half of the book letting events happen around her, she's suddenly standing up to five dragons. Where did that come from? The first half of the story doesn't support her character development near the end.

 

And now we come to the potentially triggering portion of the review. Shortly after leaving her kingdom, Genevieve stops at another castle and is assaulted by a demi-nobleman. Her guards step in to save her at the last moment, but the way the entire thing was handled left a bad taste in my mouth. I actually put the book down for a moment and seriously considered not picking it up again. There was so much victim-blaming going on, it was unbearable. A kiss is not anything more than a kiss. When you kiss somebody, you are not leading them on nor are you giving them consent to do whatever that person wishes. You are not a harlot for kissing somebody and you do not deserve to be assaulted because you choose to do so. This CANNOT be said enough. There was no need for the guards to say she had made a foolish mistake and no need for Genevieve to go on about how she should know better. As a method of showing how horrible a place she lives in, it was unnecessary. Her family shipped her off to be eaten by dragons without a second thought, trust me, we don't need anymore proof. As a vehicle for delivering the information that the dragon only takes virgins it's completely unneeded. It's already known by at least two people, Genevieve's mother and the man that attacks Genevieve (and it turns out to be misinformation). I can only assume other people are aware of this, since the sacrifices have been going on for 800 years. This information is also readily available in the book that Genevieve carries around with her. The book that doesn't get opened, until Chris suggests they do some research. I mean, who wouldn't want to sit around and mope about how hopeless the situations is instead of doing something? This assault is then followed by a second assault, this time against Christ. And our protagonist, our feminist, never once says, "No, you can not blame the victim." She gets into arguments with one of Genevieve's guards about women fetching pails of water, but lets go the comment about the way she dresses leading to her assault!? True, it shouldn't be up to the victim to put a stop to this kind of nonsense that is so prevalent in society, but you can't have a character trying to fight the patriarchy in a society and let something like this go with barely a comment. By doing so, you are unintentionally perhaps, condoning comments like this.

 

The big reveal was a bit of a let down. I won't go in to too much detail, but I really wished the story had gone in a different direction. Honestly, when we get to the part  about fighting for Genevieve's hand in marriage, I rolled my eyes. Believe it or not, it's not every woman's dream to have multiple men fighting for her affection and yet, YA fiction constantly comes back to this. What I wouldn't give for one of the protagonists to just once say, "No, I'm not interested."

 

The setting was uninteresting and not well fleshed out, I found that I couldn't picture the world they inhabited at all. It was a pretty big disappointment; I love new worlds and traveling across them. Most of the journey was spent on Genevieve's thought with little attention paid to the surroundings.

 

The writing could have used a little more polishing before publishing. It wasn't horrible, I would say it was okay, but if I'm not enjoying a story, I focus more on writing. The writing could not stand up to that kind of scrutiny. There were quite a few sentences that didn't read quite right and could have used another look. There were some odd word choices sprinkled throughout the text as well. They were used accurately, but they just didn't fit the overall tone of the sentence. On the other hand, there were a couple of sentences that really stood out to me, so much so, I highlighted them. They were, to me, beautifully crafted and I think offer a wonderful example of the kind of work the author is capable. The pacing of the story was very uneven. We get long pages of nothing happening, half a page of some small action, and we're back to nothing.

 

Overall, the story was a let down. There were some parts I did like, the contract reading part, while not anything new, is always going to be a winner for me. Maybe I went in to the story with my expectations set too high or maybe I just get tired of reading the same tropes over and over again. To me it was the same story told over a thousand times before; girl doesn't want to marry, girl meets boy, girl falls in live (with the obligatory multiple interested parties).

'There is nothing new under the sun. It has all been done before'

                                    -Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

I gave the book 1 1/2 stars

 

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