Synopsis from Katherine Tegen Books: “Mira Minkoba is the Hopebearer. Since the day she was born, she’s been told she’s special. Important. Perfect. She’s known across the Fallen Isles not just for her beauty but for the peace treaty named after her, an agreement that united the seven islands against their enemies on the mainland. But Mira never felt perfect. She counts compulsively. She struggles with crippling anxiety. And she’s far too interested in dragons for a girl of her station.”
For me, Before She Ignites gets an easy 5/5 stars. I absolutely adored it. The book was wonderfully detailed and the world building was amazing. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I related to Mira, and the anxiety representation in this book was so much better than I would have expected given that it’s a fantasy novel. Here are a few thoughts on why I loved Before She Ignites!
- Mira is a character who suffers from both sever anxiety and low self esteem. Personally, I haven’t come across a fantasy book that deals with mental health as explicitly as Before She Ignites. Thus I was surprised by just how much the book got right when it comes to anxiety. The descriptions of Mira’s panic attacks felt very real (consequently this book may be quite triggering for readers who are sensitive to such topics), as did her coping mechanisms. It was also great to see a book portray the use medication for anxiety treatment in a positive light.
- Of course, I also loved the dragons. Mira has a special affinity with dragons, thus we hear quite a bit about them. Honestly, I’d love to see a glossary (or even a guidebook?) that details all the different types of dragons that were mentioned. And YES I need a copious amount of pictures of the cute little dragon that’s small enough to sit on Mira’s shoulder. If you see any fan art, please do link me to it!
- I also loved the pace of the character and plot development. Personally, I want to know all about the characters and the world they live in before the action starts, and this is exactly what we get in Before She Ignites. As the book is the first in a trilogy, author Jodi Meadows spends a lot of time laying the groundwork for the rest of the series. We learn intricate details about the cultures of the Fallen Isles; Meadows describes their religious beliefs, languages, and customs beautifully. for the same reason though, I can see why others might not enjoy this book. It’s very internal, focused mainly on world building and Mira’s personal growth. For those who like fast paced reads full of action, I wouldn’t recommend Before She Ignites. And while a lot of NA / YA books are known for their steamy sex scenes, this novel features very little romance. There are a couple of potential love interests that I can see Mira getting together with eventually (I’m hoping a love triangle doesn’t develop, but I fear it might), but the closest this book comes to romance is Mira holding hands with a friend.
Overall, I absolutely loved Before She Ignites, but I feel I may be quite biased because of how much I related to Mira. Dragons and stunning world building aside, one of the things I loved most about this book was that it portrayed a character whose experiences with anxiety and self esteem so closely mirrored my own.
For a more objective (and comprehensive!!) review of Before She Ignites, I would definitely recommend watching this video by Francina Simone. Francina also discusses some of the controversy over racial issues surrounding the book that I didn’t go into here. I acknowledge that these issues are important and worthy of discussion, I just feel that race isn’t a topic I’m particularly knowledgeable about, thus I’d much rather defer to the experts, or people who have more personal experience. The last thing I want is to become one of those people who starts spouting opinions about issues they don’t fully comprehend. I also love that Francina describes Mira as a Hufflepuff! And I 100% agree, Mira is kind, loyal, and gentle; a total Hufflepuff Queen!
I hope you guys enjoyed my review! Feel free to leave a comment of contact me via Instagram, as this is a book I’d love to discuss.