By Deborah Cooke
I am going to be receiving the second book, Winging It in the next few weeks from paperbackswap.com, so I thought I would revisit this book before it showed up. This book is the first in a YA series, released June 2011 and a spinoff from Cooke’s Dragonfire (Paranormal Romance) books. I have read the first three of those and they are a PR where each strapping hot alpha-type male in the pack/group finds their intended mate, one pairing per book. This particular series features shifter dragons, or the “Pyr”. Anyway Flying Blind is the beginning of the Dragon Diaries, about the kids of those same adults. Zoe, the new wyvern (there can be only one female Pyr – did you hear Sean Connery too?, and she is it) should have super powers, but the problem is she hasn’t had any powers since she was two. But after trying to defend her friend from bullies at school, she partially shifts and is sent off to Pyr boot camp with the other kids her age. By the way, she is 15 and the other boys seem to be in their teens. There are no books about being the wyvern and no one will answer any of her questions so she has to figure things out on her own. At boot camp it quickly becomes obvious something is wrong, but no one can agree on anything, there is a lot of jealousy and fighting and issues these kids have to overcome, or risk losing everything.
So this book was a pleasant surprise since I first read it before reading the adult books. The young adult element was good for 12 and up, first love, disappointments, teen snark, coming of age, puberty – the whole enchilada. Plus Zoe is a good, strong, though unsure of herself at first, heroine. It was written well, the teen high school drama smoothed out and became dark and intense. Also the dragon shifter element was great. I have only read one other series like these by Shana Abe, about the Drakon. But really the only similarity between the two is that they can both turn from human into dragon.
As for the rest of it, the boys are a little like werewolves, boisterous with too much energy and strength. Zoe must be a popular YA heroine name these days, the House of Night series has the same though spelled differently. (Remember when it was a different name? I had only heard of it from that JD Salinger book…). Also, one of the characters reminds me of the bad guy in the House of Night series, not sure if the characters have similar roots in legend or not though. And, if you have read the Cassie Palmer books and this series, is the Pythia a little similar to what a wyvern can do? Seems pretty close to me… I guess the more you read the more similarities you find between stories, myth and legend. But Cooke does a good job claiming these things as her own. Also, there is one lame thing about the ending, argh! I hate it when there is a dangling WTF! thing that happens. One character is so out of character, at least up until that point, it was kind of irritating. I am sure it will be addressed in the next book, and I realize not everything can be wrapped in a tidy bow, there has to be some question niggling in the back of our minds…but jeez! I guess the book succeeded, it got to me and I cared about the characters enough to be annoyed.
So all in all a really good addition to the YA pantheon and the original series is also great fun. I am excited to receive Winging It.
Giveaway – So, I somehow ended up with a second copy of Flying Blind which I will mail to one of my lovely readers if you simply comment below (be sure to leave your email address!). I am sorry, I have to limit to US only. This contest is open until Sunday, June 17th. I will pick your name from a hat (or in some random way) on Monday. I won’t be held responsible if the book gets lost in the mail (though I will feel bad). Best of luck and thanks for reading!