For the record, I have no idea exactly how this is going to work out. It might be one chapter per entry, or a couple chapters per entry, depending on how much TLC the chapters need. Without further ado…
I have a love/hate relationship with Firebolt, book 1 of the Dragonian Series by Adrienne Woods. This book is… problematic… at moments. The idea behind it, the world it takes place in, and even the characters, are all actually really good. If you’ve read my entry on Skyborn, you’ll know I have a massive weak spot for dragons. They’re my favorite animal ever, and well, Firebolt hit all the right notes for me.
Here’s the cover:
Just check out the freakin’ summary.
Dragons. Right. Teenage girls don’t believe in fairy tales, and sixteen-year old Elena Watkins was no different.
Until the night a fairy tale killed her father.
Now Elena’s in a new world, and a new school. The cutest guy around may be an evil dragon, a Prince wants Elena’s heart, and a long dead sorcerer may be waking up to kill her. Oh. And the only way Elena’s going to graduate is on the back of a dragon of her own.
Teenage girls don’t believe in fairy tales. Now it’s time for Elena to believe – in herself.
Not my typos that’s on the actual Amazon page, go look for yourself. Ignoring that…
Unlike a lot of authors, she doesn’t give away a lot of things. It got me intrigued. Intrigued enough to immediately dive right in. Like Skyborn I found it on Audible, and it was one of the very first things that I put on my wishlist. I didn’t even use a credit to get the book, I actually bought Firebolt outright.
Ultimately, the thing that kept me going through the entire series was Erin Moon’s amazing voice acting. It took what was… an average book and pushed it over the edge for me.
That being said… there are some issues with the book itself.
This is more of a writing exercise for me, and maybe some words of caution for authors.
So, Firebolt starts with the main character listening to a song about a girl singing about a miracle, and laments that she needs a miracle to get a normal life.
Within the next paragraph, we learn why she wants one. Her dad bursts into the room and tells her to pack her bags. We also learn that this main character has been on the run for as long as she can remember.
For the love of blueberries, no sixteen-year-old should have to live this way!
From our main character’s thoughts, we learn two things. She doesn’t like to curse, and how old she is without having clumsy exposition.
I think that ‘for the love of blueberries’ is kind of cute. It didn’t bother me.
Then… we get the first cringe.
“I climbed off my bed, and the first step I took left my toe tangled in the wide leg of my jeans. I tried to regain my balance as the closet inched closer, but with my wildly flailing arms, I came crashing down.”
Okay… clumsy YA main character who can’t stay on her feet…
It’s explained later that she only owns ill-fitting clothes due to the fact that they only have long enough to blindly grab clothes while they shop. However, this is not mentioned here, or even in this chapter. Or the next one.
Her dad helps her up and they almost sort of fight. It’s clear she’s done with running and she reveals that she’s asked a million times that she wants to know what’s going on but her dad only tells her to trust him and that he’ll tell her when the time is right.
She gets her stuff and out to their pickup truck. We learn her mom left when she was two. The only thing she has is a picture of her, that her dad doesn’t know about. She says the reason her mom left is she couldn’t stand the paranoia and constant running. Her dad hates her mom, somewhat understandably, for abandoning them both.
Then we encounter the plot. Something huge flies past the car. Her dad won’t tell her what it was, but he asks if she saw where it went. Elena screams at him to tell her what it was because she’s reached her breaking point.
He asks if she remembers the stories he used to tell her about a place called Paegeia. She only remembers them vaguely but doesn’t tell him that.
He then says they’re real.
“All of it, it’s real. The dragons, the magic, the Wall, everything is real.”
Dragons? Magic? Wall??? color me intrigued.
Of course, Elena can’t believe this. She scoffs and he tells her to think what she wants.
This is something that I initially sort of had a problem with. I’m guilty of it in one of my books, but the whole… parent-hiding-something-from-the-child-so-that-it-can-be-revealed-later-as-a-plot-point cliché is… kind of tiring. It’s… not logical to keep your kid in the dark if there’s something huge looming over them that will change their future.
Here’s the thing… that’s… not actually what’s going on here. She says she only vaguely remembers the stories he told. The thing is… it’s revealed in book 3 that he told her everything about this magical world as she was growing up.
When she was 10 he told her that she was the hero of those stories and that everything was real. Little kid Elena had a complete mental breakdown because the amount of pressure that put on her was too much for her. Ultimately magic erased the memories of ‘you’re the hero’ part. However, instead of just that being taken away, 99% of the stories he told got erased too.
So I guess she avoided that cliché.
A figure with huge paws and talons flew in front of the truck.
Weirdest description of a dragon I think I’ve ever read? I… don’t really know what I just read there, but okay.
So, he gets out to defend them, she tells him not to go, he says he has to. Now there’s a creepy dude standing in the middle of the road. Her dad tells her to drive to a motel and meet someone named Matt, then he gets out. The truck thinks it’s in a horror movie and won’t start as the creepy dude starts walking towards Elena. The truck starts and she starts driving off.
Something hits the truck on the passenger side. She gets thrown from the road and the truck lands on its hood. Lightning strikes and she sees…
“The belly of a huge, blue beast on four legs the size of tree stumps…
Okay. What the fuck does that mean?? Tree stumps are not a universal thing. A tree stump is not a logical unit of measurement. I’ve seen tree stumps that are the inches in diameter. Or does she mean like a redwood stump?
But that’s not the most wrong thing in that sentence. Tree stumps not only have varriable width, but they are typically short. Most stumps out there are as low as possible, or at most a foot off the ground.
So we have a stumpy dragon. Is it a munchkin dragon? A corgi dragon??
What I think she’s trying to say is tree trunks. I mean… if you think about it horses have legs the size of tree trunks. There are some super thin trees out there. There are super thick trees. Again, we run into the same diameter issue.
It’s still not a super clear explination of the size, but that makes more sense.
So, the blue dragon starts trying to crush the car. Okay, so that clearly means it’s not that big. A redwood stump dragon would have crushed it in an instant.
Another dragon shows up, this one is copper. It starts to fight the blue dragon. It’s actually a really fun fight scene, I recommend checking out the kindle preview for it alone.
During the fight we get… this.
A bolt of fire came from the sky and lit up the entire scene in front of me.
Welcome to the closest thing we get to a title drop in this book. There’s literally no other reason this damn thing is called Firebolt, other than possibly trying to get good feelings from Harry Potter fans.
Two more dragons show up, one is red and the other is green.
Then… we get an unholy paragraph of doom. I don’t know how an editor didn’t catch this. But whatever. In this paragraph, the copper dragon kills the blue dragon. I want you to remember this. It’ll be important in another section. Or it will if the audiobook and the kindle version keep matching up. Then the green dragon gets killed on the same page it’s introduced.
The red dragon runs away without doing anything other than breathing fire.
I flinched and finally looked away as more blood squirted out of where the green dragon’s neck used to be.
N… no… you… watch blood squirt out of what was left of the green dragon’s neck.
Unless you’re saying the copper dragon bit it’s neck clean off. I guess that’s possible, but that’s not what you wrote. You just said that he went from the wing to the neck. So then do you mean from a stump?
Elena watches as the copper dragon walks towards her. She has been trying to escape from the car this whole time but the seatbelt is stuck, and she can’t kick out the windshield.
The copper dragon walks towards the pickup and rips the windshield right off. She can’t believe it. She’s still worried about her dad and can’t find him at all. Then the dragon starts to change.
The dragon started to shrink. Its wings and legs shrank into nothing. I watched as the dragon’s huge shape melted away, and the heap transformed into a low-crouching figure. He lifted his head, and huge cuts seeping with blood became visible. It felt as if somebody had squeezed all the air out of my lungs. I’d finally found my father—without a shred of clothing.
I… kind of like this?? It’s a pretty decent way to describe something that is ultimately really hard to put into words. If it’s not entirley clear, the copper dragon turned into her father. So, after not believing in dragons for a whole chapter and fearing them, and watching them try to kill her… that’s it.
Her dad is one of them.
I also think that it’s a good way to end a pretty chaotic chapter, with another giant bombshell that gets us interested to hear more. That is how the chapter ends.