Flying Blind (The Dragon Diaries, #1)by Deborah Cooke Published 07 Jun 2011
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|Publisher||New American Library|
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The next generation of shape-shifting dragons from the popular author of the Dragonfire novels.
Zoë Sorensson is perfectly normal, except she's been told she's destined for great things. Zoë's the one female dragon shapeshifter of her kind. But Zoë is at the bottom of the class when it comes to being Pyr and her powers are AWOL, so she's sent to a Pyr boot camp.
Zoë quickly realizes that she has to master her powers yesterday, because the Pyr are in danger and boot camp is a trap. The Mages want to eliminate all shifters and the Pyr are next in line-unless Zoë and her friends can work together and save their own kind.
Book Details: Format: Paperback Publication Date: 6/7/2011 Pages: 336 Reading Level: Age 18 and Up
"Flying Blind (The Dragon Diaries, #1)" Reviews
Aerial dragon battles. A girl with a cool mystical powers. Cute boys on motorbikes. What more could you ask for in a fun and fluffy paranormal book?
Flying Blind took me completely by surprise. The story follows Zoë Sorensson, the only female dragon shapeshifter in existence, who has important duties to assume when she comes to maturity. The problem is, her powers haven't bloomed properly and the few times they begin to appear--in the form of a mesmerizing flame in the pupils of her eyes and a single curved talon--she can't control them. As a result, she's shipped off to dragon "boot camp" where she's huddled with a group of dragon boys she's known all her life, including Nick, the attractive guy whom she may be destined to be with.
The dragon lore is exceptionally well thought-out, with specific behaviors and mythology. I enjoyed the vivid descriptions of the different dragons, from a green one with silver-tipped scales to a beautiful garnet and gold one to a regal pewter and purple one with silver accents. The dragon battles are also very easy to picture, with muscular physical tussling, claw-slashing, orange-flamed fire-breathing, and tail-whomping--and with none of the typical fast-healing, "easy fix" powers to lessen the stakes.
Zoë is a bright, funny heroine who narrates in a breezy tone that's immensely appealing. She's attempting to gain control of her body while trying to figure out why such a dark cloud seems to hang over her normally good-natured friends, and there's a lot that's thrown at her as she's coming into her role as a member of the Pyr. She makes a lot of mistakes, but she owns up to them and is never afraid to take action when it matters most. I like that every person in the huge cast of secondary characters has a distinct voice and identity, and that things don't always go the way that seasoned YA readers might expect with mysterious strangers or popular girls. The story is fairly complex for a short book, but it's very light-hearted in tone, which is a refreshing change from all those supernatural YA books that aren't well-thought out or that take themselves too seriously. One of the many humorous touches? Zoë, kickass girl dragon, is a vegetarian.
This book is apparently a spinoff of the author's adult PNR series, but it doesn't feel like something that's hastily cobbled together or that is at all lacking in explanation. The author does a terrific job of gradually revealing the rules and history of dragon behavior, as well as in giving enough time (but not too much time) to characters from the other series in a way that doesn't feel tiresome or forced. It's also great to see a book that shows teens with strong, loving relationships with the adults in their lives--but the crises are deftly handled and solved by the younger dragons themselves. I will say there's a lot of information to process, some of the "dark cloud" behaviors drag on for a little too long, and Zoë does occasionally get a little moony over her crush. But all the romance issues are resolved by the end of the book, and there is plenty of time spent on the family and friend relationships, mythology, plot, and personal development to balance the relationship stuff out.
I'd highly recommend Flying Blind to any fan of non-angsty paranormal/fantasy YA, especially to fans of series such as Hex Hall or The Darkest Powers. Zoë does a lot growing up in this zippy, action-packed story--and after having such a fun whirlwind of an adventure in her company, I can't to see where the next story takes her!
This review also appears in The Midnight Garden.
P.S. The cover and title are very misleading, in my opinion. I think a story that has such a humorous feel to it deserves a cover design that makes it stand out a little more from all the other typical paranormal YA books out there. I really can't picture Zoë with such a serious look on her face at all! Also, newsflash: gorgeous battling dragons are a huge selling point. At least for me, anyway.
there was a guy in my bedroom.
it was six in the morning and i didn’t know him.
i’m not much of a morning person, but that woke me up fast.
i sat up and stared, my back pressed against the wall, sure my eyes had to be deceiving me. no matter how much i blinked, though, he was still there.
he seemed to think my reaction was funny.
he had dark hair and dark eyes, and he wasn’t wearing a shirt, just jeans—and he had one heck of a six-pack. his arms were folded across his chest and a smile tugged at the corner of his mouth.
OH, COME ON! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
Flying Blind is the first in Deborah Cooke’s DRAGON DIARIES series, the young adult spinoff of her DRAGONFIRE paranormal romance novels. The DRAGON DIARIES are set in the near future, and the heroine and her peers are the children of the protagonists of the DRAGONFIRE books.
Zoë Sorensson has always been told she has a great destiny: she is the Wyvern, which means she’s the only female Pyr (dragon shapeshifter) of her generation, and is supposed to have certain powers beneficial to her fellow Pyr. Trouble is, those powers haven’t manifested yet — at least not until she jumps to the defense of a bullied friend and undergoes an incomplete shift in the process. Partially as a punishment for shifting in front of humans, and partially to help her develop her powers, Zoë’s dad sends her to Pyr boot camp with a group of other young Pyr.
Deborah Cooke does a lot of things right in Flying Blind, subverting some tropes that have become clichés. The concept of fated love appears, for example, but not at all in the way you might expect. Cooke also strikes a good balance between the teen and adult characters, letting the former save the day without painting the latter as incompetent.
Unfortunately, the boot camp section seems to drag and can be annoying. Zoë and the other young Pyr spend most of this time bickering, having drama, and acting like jerks. After a while, I didn’t like any of them much, including Zoë. [spoilers removed]
The story picks up momentum again when the teens discover a plot against their fathers and against the Pyr race as a whole. There are plenty of twists and revelations, and a suspenseful battle in which everyone’s skills are tested.
The ending evoked irritation again, though. One twist makes it look like future books will focus (at least in part) on whether Zoë chooses to lose her virginity and the magical consequences of that choice. I’m weary of plots that tie sexuality to the threat of metaphysical disaster. In adult urban fantasy the heroine often has to have sex to avert calamity, and in YA she usually has to not have sex, but either way, I wish more heroines got to make these choices based on their own values and desires instead. Also, there’s a character who leaves the scene abruptly after the battle, and it seems more like an authorial decision to create tension for the next book rather than what this character would actually do at that moment.
Flying Blind has some good points but also some annoying ones. Young adult readers tired of destined true loves and moronic parents may find it right up their alley, though.
(Contains minor spoilers - although they would hardly come as a surprise to anyone who begins reading it -, and it's assumed that you've read the book description.)
I love dragons. I really do. Actually, the best thing about this book was that it was about dragons. Unfortunately, this was also the only good thing about it, and it was the only thing that made me keep reading, hoping it would get better. It didn't. If we subtract dragons, the book is a junk. A huge disappointment.
The world is apparently shared with the Dragonfire series of the author, which I haven't read, because I'm not a fan of romantic books (even if it is paranormal romance). This turned out to be a mistake, as the author didn't bother to explain too much in this book about her world, even though this is the first book of The Dragon Diaries series. It's left to the reader to figure out what he can. For instance, I still don't really know what a 'firestorm' is (in the context of this world), other than that it has something to do with Pyr mating.
What I see from the world isn't very exciting either. Apparently, there are the Pyr, the dragon shapeshifters, who are the guardians of the Earth. They can shift between human and dragon forms, although it seems that they don't have to bother with their clothes in the process. Quite convenient... and unrealistic.
As dragons, they can do what one would expect: they have claws, can fly and can breath fire. They don't age, and are able to communicate over long distances, in a language that humans can't hear or understand.
There are also special Pyr, who have all sorts of superpowers. One of them is the Wyvern, the only female of the race, who can, among other things, see the past, present and future and can teleport at will. By the way, this is supposed to be Zoë, the heroine of the book.
There are also other kinds of shapeshifters, and there's also magic. The archenemies of the Pyr are the Mages, who are human spellcasters, and they are evil and want to rule the world. I'm afraid there's really nothing exciting.
We follow the story from the point of view of Zoë. Basically the first half of the book is plain trash, nothing exciting happens. The heroine is trying to learn into her powers, and mostly fails. Then, around halfway through the book, a hot guy comes, he and Zoë immediately fall in love with each other (sort of), although the guy is, at least, a decade older than the girl (who is just entering adolescence), but hey. The guy tells Zoë to believe in herself, she says "OK" and all her powers start to work. Serious, what the hell?!
The second half of the story brings a lot of action, which is just lame. The fighting dragons are unimpressive, and so is the magic. One good thing about the story was the mystery from the very beginning, which is sadly all revealed in the beginning of the second half. Zoë suddenly becomes all-powerful, which basically ruins any excitement a reader would feel.
Romance also couldn't be left out from the book, no, no, that would be terrible. Zoë's relationship with that said-to-be-hot, spellcaster (good-mage) guy (I forgot his name) is ridiculous, at best. However, Isabella and Nick's affection was a lot better pictured, although for only a single scene. One of the very few things that prevented this book from getting 1 star only.
There are interesting inconsistencies in the plot. At some point, it turns out that the Mages got extremely powerful while the Pyr weren't watching (what? what sort of guardians are they? seriously, what the duck?). Then at the end of the book, they are easily defeated by the Pyr. Huh?
As for the characters, this is obviously meant to be a coming-of-age type of book, but it fails miserably to show up any character development whatsoever.
The characters we meet are all black-and-white: there are the good guys (mainly the Pyr) who are all just dumb and there are the bad guys (mainly the Mages), who are all, well, evil.
Similarly, they are all terribly unrealistic, and it's very hard to relate with them.
I'm afraid that's all there is to it. In summary: I mostly wish I haven't read it. I don't recommend it to anyone, except perhaps if you really really love dragons, and there's absolutely nothing else to read. But it's best not to have any expectations, because almost certainly you'll be disappointed.
Apparently the second book of the series, titled Winging It will be published this December, but I don't think I'll ever read it. In fact, this book has pretty much ruined my mood for trying books about dragons anytime soon.
On the bright side, I'm quite sure that I'll enjoy the next book I read a lot more, whatever that may be.
Review courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy
Dragon mythology is one of the few in paranormal fiction that is still relatively fresh, and Cooke runs wild with her dragon world. If you’ve read her Dragonfire paranormal romance series, you’re already familiar with these elemental based dragons and will even recognize many of the parents in FLYING BLIND.
Zoe is the protagonist in FLYING BLIND, a fifteen year old impatient to grow up and develop her Pyr abilities (along with a nice set of boobs). She’s likeable from page one, if a bit on the young side of fifteen for a YA title. She’s displays a brave, loyal streak throughout the book that helps to temper her occasional recklessness. She believably worries about boys and is no stranger to jealousy (but she isn’t ever petty about it). It all added up to a very realistic teenage girl.
I have to mention one scene that really threw me very early on when Zoe and her friend get into a fight with a few nasty girls from school while everyone is showering after gym class. I couldn’t get past the fact that this physical fight was supposedly taking place while everyone was naked and yet no mention was made about that. It all seemed very unrealistic to me.
Overall, the writing is swift and fun, just like I’d imagine flying on the back of a dragon. The characters do kiss the line between YA and Middle Grade, but the innovative mythology and mature storyline should please readers of any age. If you’re looking for a break from vampires and werewolves or you’re a fan of Cooke’s adult Dragonfire series, you won’t be disappointed with FLYING BLIND. The next book in the Dragon Diaries Trilogy is called WINGING IT and will be published on December 6th 2011.
I can't believe this book was written in 2011. It's like this author studied how to write YA by reading and watching stuff from teh 80s and 90s.
I'm just SO sick of the mean girl, girl jealousy, succeed for a boy, drink to be cool mentality. Ffs! Hey look at me: I'm underage and I'm drinking to show off for a boy and I hate that other girl because she's so much prettier than me and the only boy I'll ever love is so cool, definitely overage and also a bad boy.
This book left a bad taste in my mouth.