March 12, 2015

Shadow Scale Tour: Review + Giveaway

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman, being presented by Random House Children's Books! Today I'll be sharing my review of the book - and don't forget to enter the giveaway to win 1 of 2 finished copies! Check out my stop on the Seraphina blog tour for an author interview and another giveaway HERE!

Shadow Scale (Seraphina #2)
Author: Rachel Hartman
Genre: YA Fantasy
Release Date: March 10, 2015
Publisher: Random House Children's Books


Seraphina took the literary world by storm with 8 starred reviews and numerous “Best of” lists. At last, her eagerly awaited sequel has arrived—and with it comes an epic battle between humans and dragons.

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?
Shadow Scale is the highly anticipated next installment in a thrilling young adult fantasy series. It continues to follow our main character, Seraphina, as she adjusts to the knowledge that she's half-human and half-dragon. She's honing her special skills so they aren't so sporadic and visions don't take her by surprise any time they want. As Seraphina is learning to harness and control her special gifts, a war between humans and dragons begins. The humans are fighting rebel dragons over power. The battle is raging in her land, and Seraphina learns that because of her heritage, she is the only one with the ability to stop the war and unite the kingdom - which she fulls intends to do. Convinced that the other half-breed people will only help her, she goes on a quest to find them and convince them to fight with her. Along the way, Seraphina will learn things she never dreamed possible - from terrible secrets and lies to hidden histories - and the realization that someone is trying to stop her. What makes things worse is the fact that this person is a half-breed like her, one who will stop at nothing to make sure both sides - human and dragon - are destroyed.

I have to admit that due to all the hype about the first book along with the huge buzz and anticipation for this installment - I had some pretty high hopes and expectations before even opening the novel. I shouldn't have worried though, because there was nothing at all lacking from this book. It was just as magical and enchanting as the first - immediately sucking me back into Seraphina's world from the opening words and not letting me back out until I was completely finished. I felt that this book deals a lot more with the political unrest in the kingdom and the war between the humans and dragons for power. Normally those types of concepts would make me wary of a book, but I found myself eagerly reading everything to see what was going on and why - and what was going to happen next. I loved that there was a bit of a mystery thrown into the plot with Seraphina realizing that one of her own people is working against her and wants to see both the humans and the dragons destroyed. I continually tried to figure out who it might be, but I couldn't do it on my own and had to wait until it was revealed in the book. 

There are three major aspects to this book that made me love it so much. The first I've already described above - the plot. It was original and had tons of action and adventure  - which kept me on my toes the whole time. There are a couple storylines happening at once during part of the book, and I loved that they were both written in a way that didn't confuse the reader, and also when they melted into each other to return to the main story line. The second thing is the character of Seraphina. She's an incredibly strong female lead for the book (and the series) and continues to grow and mature all the time. We see a lot of growth from Seraphina in this book - she learns that she is the key to stopping the war and uniting the kingdom, the pressure to find others like her to help fight, and overcoming several other obstacles throughout the story. She's already strong - physically and mentally - as well as smart, intuitive, determined, and willing to do whatever is needed to make things right. Because of these attributes and the various situations and problems she encounters in the book, she has to mature even more than before and in a short amount of time. She can't be so blind to things that are going on around her - she has to be alert and always on guard in case something should happen. The changes in her character are obvious at the end of the book, but seem to happen gradually in the book - which I really loved.

Lastly, the main aspect of the book that I loved more than anything, was the author's writing. This is where it gets hard for me to put my thoughts and feelings into the right words and I never seem to be able to describe things enough to emphasize how incredible they are. Every part of this book was written with such attention to detail - down to the most minute details - and with such description that it truly brings Seraphina's world alive for me. I immediately felt like I was inside the story alongside Seraphina, experiencing everything that she did. The author used intense and vivid imagery along with incredibly detailed descriptions throughout the entirety of the story. As I mentioned, the world the author creates feels so realistic that I easily slipped right into it from the beginning. I could shut my eyes and see, feel, hear, smell, and taste everything in the story, from the tiniest detail to the important parts like the battles - and everything in between. The book is told from Seraphina's point of view, which is my favorite writing style. Because it's first person, we're able to know every little thing that goes on in her head - doubts, fears, dreams, hopes, insecurities, along with her inner dialogue and the story from her vantage point. By the end of the story, we feel as if we actually know her as we would a good friend or even somehow closer. Using the first person point of view also makes the book feel more conversational in tone and the flow comes naturally - like the story is being told by Seraphina to us - not the author writing it on the pages. It's this part of the book - the writing - that makes or breaks a book, for me at least. The author didn't disappoint with this novel. I was instantly mesmerized and stayed that way throughout the entire book - which is actually really long. It takes phenomenal writing to keep a reader enthralled for such a long period of time. Like I said at the beginning of my review, I can't ever seem to find the right words to describe why I loved the writing so much or what it is about the novel that made it blow my mind. I can never do it the justice it deserves. All I can say in closing is that this is one of the best books I've read this year, and by far one of the best YA fantasy books I've ever read and it's now a new favorite. I can't wait until the next book to see where the story will take us. If you're a fan of YA fantasy, paranormal fiction, action, adventure, mystery, high fantasy - or just a reader looking for something different to lose themselves in for awhile - then you need to read this book. I personally think everyone should read this book due to all the different genres it combines and because it's such an exceptional novel in every way. READ. THIS. BOOK. NOW. I promise you won't be disappointed.

One of the Best YA Fantasy Novels I've Ever Read - a Definite New Favorite of Mine!
Rachel was born in Kentucky, but has lived a variety of places including Chicago, Philadelphia, St. Louis, England, and Japan. She has a BA in Comparative Literature, although she insists it should have been a BS because her undergraduate thesis was called “Paradox and Parody in Don Quixote and the satires of Lucian.” She eschewed graduate school in favour of drawing comic books. She now lives in Vancouver, BC, with her family, their whippet, and a talking frog and salamander (who fight zombies)(really. There are a lot of zombies in the Pacific Northwest).  Her first YA fantasy novel, Seraphina, was published by Random House on July 10th, 2012. 
Author Links:
Giveaway: (2) Hardcover copies of Shadow Scale - Open to US/CAN!


1 comment:

  1. Lovely review, Steph! I'm so excited to read this. It's sitting on my shelf, taunting me. So many good books all out at once! I'm glad to hear that it keeps up the magical-ness of the original. Seraphina was an easy 10 for me, and sequels can be so tricky. I'm excited to get to know the other half-dragons more!

    Sarcasm & Lemons