‘Before She Ignites’ by Jodi Meadows is not at all what I expected it to be.
Mira is glorified puppet, she is told what to do, eat, wear and what to say; all because she represents a treaty and unifies the Fallen Isles. Her one weakness is dragons and when she finds out that dragons are missing and the treaty isn’t what it appears, she is sent to prison. Mira finds strength in silence and allies but can she escape to set things right?
The different Isles and their attributes drew me in from the first line they were mentioned. The idea that each isle and its occupants live by precedents is unique and it gives the author plenty of play room. I am very interested to see what the other Isles are like, especially Idris. I think Mira could learn so much now that she knows the silent language.
At first, I didn’t know how to feel about Mira. For the first half of the book I found she was ridiculously naive and far too trusting of the Luminary Council. Even though she was allowed time spent with dragons, I felt she had been coddled up until her incarceration. However, it has to be said that she was an alluring character and most of that is down to her vanity. This nugget of sin is what makes her human and it’s a weakness that quite a lot of my generation suffer with (excessive selfies anyone?) and I liked that about her. It made complete sense for her to be obsessed with her appearance, to be trusting of the Council and to be childlike in her expectations of prison; of her lack of survival knowledge. Mira’s development is wonderfully written. When she arrives at the prison and is told she would have to clean her own cell, she panicked due to never having cleaned before herself, and towards the end she thinks to pick up blankets and first aid kits in case they may need them. It’s only occurred to me now how divine this book is.
The prisoners that Mire held company with are all vastly different to each other. I like Gerel (she’s so badass and sassy and everyone knows how much I love that in a character) and I have faith that she will continue to help Mira. Chenda didn’t have much time in the book but I suspect she will become a more prominent figure in the sequel. Aaru has great potential in the next book despite his silence. If anything, I think his silence will be an advantage and I like the fact that at the moment, only Mira can understand his silent language. Plus I would like to see their romance blossom because lets face it, they definitely have that feel. I also kinda hope that Altan makes an appearance in the sequel too; the Luminary Council are too broad to hate fully, Altan gives me a singular vision to focus my anger on.
I would say about 70% of this book is set in the Pit and it’s pretty amazing that I didn’t get bored once. You would think that having similar scenery would get a bit tiresome and same-y but the story and Mira’s drive kept the staleness at bay. In fact, I loved that there was so much prison time because it gave the author a tunnel-vision-like ability to hone in on her characters. Mira, Aaru, Gerel and even Altan, they all had such depth to them and I believe its because they were the only things I really had to focus on. Which makes me want to applaud Meadow’s even more because her characters are under more scrutiny in this light than they would be if they weren’t in prison. Correct me if I’m wrong. I won’t bite.
I really enjoyed this book and I would go so far as to say it’s the best dragon book I have read despite there not actually being many dragons in it. I would have loved to have given this 5 stars because it is worth it, however, despite me wanting to turn the page ever faster, I did feel the book’s length. I don’t want to say that it dragged because it didn’t, but when I finished it, it made me feel like I had spent weeks reading it. Perhaps it was the Pit taking its toll on me as reader! Also, another reason for the docked star, is the lack of dragons. I know they were in prison for the majority of the book but I went into this with dragon eyes and came out slightly disappointed at the lack of.
Having said all of THAT, I would recommend this book in a heartbeat!
“There is strength,” he said slowly, “in knowing when to speak, and when to listen.” His hands stayed on his chest, motionless. “And when to say nothing at all.”
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