There’s Nothing Worse Than Being Disappointed in a Dragon Book

Before She IgnitesBefore She Ignites by Jodi Meadows
Series: Fallen Isles Trilogy #1
Published by: Katherine Tegen Books on September 12, 2017
Genre: Dragons, Fantasy
Pages: 400
Source: Edelweiss
Book Details
Rating: ★★½


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.

Well shit. I’m sad I didn’t love this. 🙁 It had so much potential and I was SO excited. But it ended up falling kind of flat for me. By the time I got to the end, I was doing a lot of skimming just to be done with it.

Things I didn’t like:

The format

It kept flip flopping between different time periods and I didn’t like it. I’m not opposed to that overall, but I didn’t feel like it really worked here. I think the book could have been more powerful and interesting if it was linear. Instead it was like:

  • Now
  • 10 years ago
  • Now
  • 10 days ago
  • Now
  • 7 years ago
  • Now
  • 8 days ago

It was all over the damn place.

Kind of boring

Like 95% of the “now” chapters took place in a pitch black prison. There’s only so much interesting stuff that can happen in those circumstances. I just wasn’t super excited about what was happening, and by the time exciting stuff did happen, it was the end of the book and I had already decided I wasn’t super invested.

The characters were pretty bland

The main character wasn’t bland—she was kind of interesting. But everyone close to her was. She has two best friends, but 95% of the book is spent without them. So although they were clearly important to her, I had a hard time connecting with them because I saw so little of them.

Then, her main prison friend who is around her quite a bit is literally known for not speaking. They do find ways to communicate, but even then, he was a man of few words. It just made it that much harder for me to actually care about him or see a strong connection between him and the main character. View Spoiler »

The one character I did really like is kind of an awesome badass. She spends all her time in prison working out and she has this awesome attitude. But she was a minor character in the grand scheme of things.

The world building

There was clearly a lot to this world, but it was really shallowly explained. There’s tons of history, culture, and politics that are REALLY important to the plot, but none of them were explained very well so it was hard to get invested or truly understand and appreciate what was going on. It was hard to care about it when I knew so little about it. It seemed like we only scraped the surface of what this world was all about, but it seemed to be what drove the entire plot, so that wasn’t very satisfying.

The main character’s “fame” was strange

The whole thing that drives this story is this peace treaty thing. The main character is hugely famous and known as “the Hopebearer” simply because the treaty was named after her. She didn’t make the damn treaty or have any part in it whatsoever… it was just named after her.

But despite her non-existent role in the treaty, everyone treated her like this amazing, magical person. I couldn’t stop thinking about how weird that was.

The dragons 🙁

The dragons didn’t excite me as much as I thought they would. Although the “dragon trafficking” is the focus of the story, the dragons seemed to play a surprisingly small role. Maybe that was because the main character spent the whole book in prison where there were no dragons at all. I think there was just so much more that I hoped for and my expectations were too high.

Before She Ignites wasn’t terrible but there was a lot I was unhappy with. I think I’m hugely disappointed because I love dragon stories and this one fell so short of my expectations. I wanted to love it, devour it, obsess over it… and I didn’t get any of that.

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  1. What a bummer! Dual timelines focusing on one character are hit or miss for me, I don’t always love when they jump around that way. And being in a prison for most of one of the POVs doesn’t sound great :/ Hopefully I like Mira and enjoy the book but we’ll see I suppose.

    Morgan @ The Bookish Beagle recently posted: The Big Summer Reading Recap
  2. Nooooo! I had such high hopes for this one but the unhappy reviews just keep rolling in. I mean, it’s a gorgeous cover and there’s dragons. How can you go wrong with that? The skipping all over would drive me nuts. I don’t mind some flash backs but it sounds like this one needed to start with her in the cell and then go back in time leading up to her current predicament. Especially since it sounds like nothing of interest was going on in the cell anyways. 🙁

    Kristin (Book Sniffers Anonymous) recently posted: Review: On the Chase by Katie Ruggle

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