YALSA’s 2013 Hub Reading Challenge: Book 1 Complete!

Posted on February 6, 2013. Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , |

The Hub Reading Challenge is something like 25 books in 20 weeks, choosing from this year’s award winners, honor books, and top ten lists. My list of books that I plan to read (dictated mostly by what’s available in my library) is here. I’m happy to report that I’ve finished my first book!

Book cover of Seraphina

I like fantasy novels, so this one was great to start off the challenge. Seraphina by Rachel Hartman, her debut novel, has a heroine that you can’t help but root for. Seraphina has had an unusual life. She’s an unnaturally gifted musician but is forbidden by her father to play in public. Her tutors have been dragons (in their human form, of course), and at the young age of sixteen, she becomes assistant to the court composer, putting her in view of the royal family. Such prestige would be an honor for anyone, but Seraphina wants desperately to stay out of the limelight. If anyone found out that she was only half-human, it could mean her life because she’s not supposed to exist. But Seraphina can’t help but become involved when the prince is beheaded, making it seem that the long-held peace treaty between dragons and humans has been broken. She starts working with Lucian, the captain of the Queen’s Guard, and finds it harder and harder to keep her secret as her feelings for him grows.

Seraphina does not deviate greatly from the fantasy genre, but it’s sufficiently different that you won’t think “didn’t I read this already?” Seraphina has flaws (such as being “prickly”) and makes plenty of mistakes and has enough internal struggles that it feels like she could be real. Nothing comes easily for her, but it doesn’t feel like there are any unnecessary conflicts.  If you’re a romantic, you’ll be rooting for Seraphina and Lucian, and if you’re not, the romance is fairly minimal and is mostly evident towards the end. I didn’t figure out the book’s mystery but the clues became obvious after finding out the solution, and the ending feels like a set up for more to come, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this isn’t the last we’ll hear from Seraphina.

If you like Tamora Pierce and Kristin Cashore’s books, you’ll like Seraphina.

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