ARC Review: Shatter the Sky by Rebecca Kim Wells

Genre : YA Fantasy
Publication Date : July 30, 2019
Publisher : Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Somehow, 2019 has gone from Hot Girl Summer to Hot Dragon Summer. I don’t know HOW it happened, but at the start of 2019 I very firmly Did Not Like Dragons and yet, here I am, seven months into the year, with 80% of the books I’ve read having involved a scaly flying fire-breather in some capacity. And honestly – I kind of love it. (Thank you NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for the ARC!).

Dragons lie at the heart of Rebecca Kim Wells’ debut novel Shatter the Sky. The story opens in the mountains of Ilvera with Maren and Kaia, childhood sweethearts. Ilvera, once the land of the dragons, has been reduced to a shadow of its former glory ever since the emperor invaded and stole the dragons away. Kaia, the more bold and daring of the two, has grand plans of leaving Ilvera to travel the world. Maren, less certain of adventures, is reluctantly resigned to follow the love of her life wherever she goes. All of this changes, however, when the emperor’s band of Aurati come to Ilvera and steal Kaia away. Maren, usually timid and cautious, decides to steal a dragon from the emperor and use it to break Kaia out of the mysterious city of Lumina where she is imprisoned.

I really and truly adored the world of this story – Wells does a brilliant job at making her universe seem real and lived-in. I particularly loved all the small details of Ilvera culture, especially the focus on music and its connection to dragons. I was also super intrigued by the idea of the Aromatory and the use of condensed scents to control and communicate with dragons. Unique details like this are sprinkled throughout the book, keeping me interested and wanting to learn more and more about the characters and the world they live in. I can’t wait to learn more about the Aurati and the emperor going forward – Wells just touches the surface of these subjects in this first book, and I know things are going to get wild in the sequel!

Maren’s journey and character arc was such a delight to read, and rightly my favorite part of this book. She went from timid and cautious to fierce and independent in the span of 300 pages – and I believed every moment of it. Watching her become more and more self-confident throughout the book was so beautiful (I particularly loved all the scenes at the dragon training academy!). I can’t wait to see how her character continues to develop and grow moving forward, especially in relation to other characters like Kaia and Sev!

Shatter the Sky is 100% the kind of book I wish I’d had in middle school and high school – it has passionate and resourceful young women, beautiful world-building, DRAGONS, and of course a totally amazing and earnest love story between two girls (and a possible love triangle with a handsome prince???). Basically, this is everything I ever wanted as a kid, and I’m so delighted that young readers have access to books like this now! If you love amazingly queer YA fantasy, pre-order it now – we need to support more fantastic diverse fiction like this!!

P.S. ALSO OK I don’t know if Rebecca Kim Wells is familiar with Avatar: The Last Airbender but there was a scene involving a cabbage merchant that had me laughing OUT LOUD for way longer than was necessary…….so if you’re an A:TLA fan, keep an eye out for that lol

10 Angry Bisexual Dragon-Stealing Teenagers out of 10

June Bookshelf

HAPPY JUNE!!!

Sara:

  1. Stronger Than A Bronze Dragon by Mary Fan – The title itself was enough to grab my attention, especially since Emory has been on a dragon binge with her books. This one promises not just your every day dragons, but mechanical dragons! Sounds like a cool twist, and I can’t wait to read it!
  2. Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson – This book sounds like it has everything – evil sorcerers, magical books that transform into monsters made of out ink and leather, unlikely alliances, and sabotage! It already has great reviews on Goodreads, and I’m so excited to get it!
  3. Wicked Fox by Kat Cho – Out on June 25th, Cho’s debut novel takes on the Korean myth of the gumiho, a nine-tailed fox who must devour men in order to survive. I mean…do I need to say more? (No, but I will!). The protagonist, Miyoung, is one of these gumihos, hunting in secret in modern day Seoul when she decides to spare the life of a human boy – Jihoon – and loses her fox bead (her gumiho soul) in the process.
  4. The Girl in Red by Christina Henry – This book is right up my alley. It’s a post-apocalyptic twist on the classic fairytale of Little Red Riding Hood. Desperate to get to her grandmother to ensure her safety, Red braves the dangerous forest that is packed full of monsters (wolves and humans).
  5. The Outside by Ada Hoffman – Ada Hoffman has been making strides to include more autistic characters in speculative fiction (check out her Autistic Book Party). The Outside features Yasira Shien, an autistic physicist whose work on a space station backfires when it explodes, throwing her into a confusing set of events that includes cyborg servants of God, her long lost mentor, and traveling beyond reality itself.

Emory:

  1. This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone – A novella co-written by two of my favorite authors! Out in July in the US, but I managed to snag an eARC on NetGalley! I started reading last week and it is truly breathtaking!
  2. Shatter the Sky by Rebecca Kim Wells – Bisexual dragon-stealing ladies! Need I say more? (Apparently I really do like dragons now!!)
  3. New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color ed. by Nisi Shawl – A brilliant anthology featuring work by some of my favorite short story writers (Jaymee Goh, Rebecca Roanhorse, and Steven Barnes to name a few!). And, of course, an intro written by THE Levar Burton!
  4. The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi – A reimagined 1880s Paris feat. a gang of unlikely friends (a hotel owner, a engineer, a historian, a dancer, and a fighter). I can’t wait to start reading!
  5. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke – As I embark on my journey to read every Regency fantasy novel out there, I must confront the fact that I only ever read 1/4 of this book and then watched the TV series instead. Time to dive back into this delightful brick of a book!