Okay, first up! The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli. I picked up this book not knowing much about it, other than that someone I follow on Goodreads liked it, so I decided to give it a try.
Asha is a dragon slayer. She kills the creatures as revenge for the havoc and destruction they caused her kingdom many years ago. With her wedding to the ruthless commander coming in a week, her father makes her a deal: if Asha kills Kozu, the oldest dragon, then they can call off the wedding. However, when Asha sets out to kill Kozu, she discovers secrets about the dragons, as well as her kingdom, that challenge everything she believes in.
I really enjoyed this book. Especially after the midpoint, when a massive plot twist was revealed, things really fall into place, and it sets you in the right frame of mind to really appreciate everything that came before.
This month, I finished off the Lockwood and Co. series by Jonathan Stroud. Let me tell you, ooh boy, it was a wild ride, and this series is definitely in my top favourites now.
I just enjoyed these books sooo much, that they knocked me out of my reading slump after I finished The Last Namsara. There’s just something about Lucy Carlyle’s narration that pulls you in and doesn’t let go. The slow revelation of the bigger mysteries of their world slowly unfold while the back-to-back action-packed individual missions make sure that things don’t get bogged down for too long.
And just like in all books I love, what really grabs me in this series is the characters and their dynamics with each other. I love all the friendships they form, the challenges they face in their relationships, and how they overcome that. The protagonists are still teenagers, and they act very much like so, without me feeling like they’re making terrible decisions. (I kid you not, sometimes I read books in which protagonists clearly make horrible decisions and the story justifies it as them being teens, and it just… doesn’t justify it enough for me).
I especially fell in love with Lucy Carlyle. Oh my dear, salty girl. It’s strange because Lucy actually fulfils the character archetype that I don’t usually like. She’s abrasive, insecure, jealous, looks down on other girls. But I really commend Stroud for writing her flaws in a very understandable way. I wasn’t repulsed by her, like I usually am with characters who have the same personality; instead, I felt for her, and I saw my younger 14-year-old self in her. And I rooted for her and wished she’d grow and overcome her insecurities. And she did. That’s the lovely part of it. She did.
I also really love the way the romance is handled here. There’s not much of it. Perfect, just the way I like it. Hehe.